How To Make Castella Cake (Japanese Sponge Cake Recipe)-Japanese Taste

How To Make Castella Cake (Japanese Sponge Cake Recipe)

by Mana Sobral

Dessert Wagashi Cake Mirin Egg Japanese Sweets Freezer Friendly Vegetarian

Castella cake, a beloved Japanese dessert, has won over dessert enthusiasts worldwide. It's more than just a cake; it's a masterpiece of flavors and textures with a secret ingredient - mirin syrup.

Now, let's explore the world of mirin syrup. This isn't your ordinary sweetener; it's a reduction of sweet rice wine that brings a unique sweetness and a subtle tangy twist to the cake. Mirin syrup adds depth and complexity to the cake's flavor profile, taking it to culinary excellence. But it doesn't stop there; it also plays a vital role in keeping the cake irresistibly moist.

Mirin, created through rice fermentation, offers a milder sweetness compared to sugar, allowing the natural sweetness to shine through. In the realm of Castella cake, mirin enhances sweetness, introduces a distinctive flavor, and ensures the cake remains moist. The combination of sugar and alcohol in mirin contributes to its fluffy texture, making it a great addition to the recipe.

As for the cake's brilliant color, it's all thanks to the egg yolks. Using dark-hued yolks can result in an even richer yellow tone, creating a visually pleasing and delicious cake.

The journey of Castella cake to Japan dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese traders introduced sponge cake recipes. Over time, these recipes evolved to suit Japanese tastes, leading to the beloved Castella cake we know today.

Whether you're enjoying a slice with tea, celebrating a special occasion, or simply treating yourself, Castella cake elevates the experience. Its simple yet essential ingredients - eggs, sugar, flour, olive oil, a touch of soy sauce, and mirin syrup - pay homage to pure flavors. This cake beautifully combines tradition and innovation, promising a delectable journey with every bite. It's not just dessert; it's a slice of history and a taste of pure joy.


Prep time: 40 mins

Cook time: 45 mins

Total time: 1hr 25mins

Total servings: 8

Difficulty: Medium

  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 100g White Sugar
  • 100ml Mirin
  • 100g All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-2 Drops Soy Sauce

Expert's Tip

How To Make Castella Cake (Japanese Sponge Cake Recipe)

This mirin isn't just a typical Japanese pantry item; it's a sweet secret for your Castella cake and other desserts! Experience the unique, delightful sweetness it imparts. It also complements other confectionery surprisingly well. A dash of this mirin in your dorayaki or even traditional pancake batter can infuse a delicious Japanese flavor.


1) Gathering the Ingredients and Recipe Preparations

Gather the ingredients together and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Prepare the loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.

2) Making the Mirin Syrup

Over medium heat, simmer the mirin in a small pot until it's reduced to half its original volume. When it cools down, it will have a syrupy consistency.

Tip: If you reduce the mirin too much, it may solidify like candy when it cools. If this happens, don't worry; simply add a little water and reheat it.

3) Preparing the Egg Yolk Batter

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine egg yolks and 50 grams of sugar until the mixture thickens. Once it's thick, introduce the cooled, reduced mirin and a few drops of soy sauce, and mix thoroughly. Gradually incorporate olive oil, ensuring a well-mixed cake batter.

4) Whipping up the Egg White Mixture

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the egg whites with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Gradually add the rest of the sugar to the egg whites in 2-3 portions, beating until stiff peaks form.

5) Incorporating the Dry Ingredients

Start by adding ⅓ of the egg white mixture to the yolk mixture and thoroughly combine them. Then, incorporate the sifted flour and mix until fully blended. Finally, gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture in 2-3 portions, taking care not to overmix.

6) Baking the Castella Cake

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, giving it a gentle tap to eliminate any air bubbles. Use a chopstick to create a zigzag pattern in the batter (a useful tip for removing air bubbles). 

Bake for 40-45 minutes, positioning a bowl of lukewarm water beside it. To check if the Castella is done, insert a toothpick or paring knife into the center; when it comes out clean, your Castella is ready to enjoy.

Tip: The bowl of warm water remains beside the cake in the oven to help keep the cake moist. Without this, the cake may become too dry.

7) Taking the Cake Out of the Oven & Resting It

Once you remove the cake from the oven, gently tap the loaf pan twice from a distance of about 4 inches to prevent the cake from shrinking.

Grease a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper with oil, place it on the cake's surface, and then flip the cake onto it to remove the loaf pan. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for a minimum of 6 hours, or overnight.

Tip: Freshly baked Castella is quite hot, and its texture and flavor have yet to fully settle. Allowing it to cool down and rest for a while is essential as it helps evenly distribute moisture and flavors inside, ultimately enhancing its deliciousness.

8) Shaping the Cake & Enjoying

After allowing the Castella cake to rest for over 6 hours, carefully remove the plastic wrap and parchment paper. Use a bread knife to trim the cake's edges, and then slice it to your preferred thickness. Now, it's ready to enjoy!

Tip: For clean and beautiful slices, moisten the bread knife before each cut.

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