Taiwanese Castella Cake – Pandan Chocolate

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Taiwanese castella cake is a very popular sponge cake in Taiwan and now most bakers in Asian countries bake this cake as well. It is soft, fluffy and jiggly. With its basic recipe, you can tweak it into many kinds of castella cake.

taiwanese castella cake

If you go to Taiwan, you can see so many bakeries sell this Taiwanese castella cake. They bake in giant pan and cut them into rectangles and sell in boxes.

From Taiwan it goes to Korea and many other cities in Asia.

I have tested the original recipe. This time I tried using pandan extract and chocolate, mocha paste to decorate the top with batik pattern.

If you like this kind of Asian recipe, you may also like oolong milk tea or rose milk tea.

What is Taiwanese Castella Cake?

Taiwanese castella cake is also called souffle castella. It is sponge cake baked in aubain marie method or water bath method. You basically put the cake pan on a bigger pan and fill the bigger pan with water.

The cake has a caramelized surface and is super soft, super fluffy inside and it jiggles when you touch it.

It is very popular in Taiwan and you can see it baked in a giant pan on street food cafes. It is then cut into large rectangles and sold in boxes.

In Taiwan, castella cake variation comes with whipped cream and cheese.

In Indonesia there are many home bakers who create many more variations like using pandan extract, strawberry jam, purple yam, and many more.

Origin

Portuguese merchant introduce castella cake to Japan. The name is originally Pão de Castela meaning ‘bread from Castile’.

They call it Kasutera in Japan. And later Japanese brought this cake to Taiwan and now the adaptation of this cake is very popular all over Taiwan.

Taiwanese Castella Cake vs. Chiffon Cake

The process of making castella cake and chiffon cake is almost the same. It separates egg yolk and egg white.

First, we need to mix the egg yolks with other ingredients and then egg white is beaten to medium peak. Later, put the egg yolk batter and the meringue together and mix thoroughly.

The difference of castella cake and chiffon cake is in the baking method and pan handling and the texture of the cake.

For chiffon cake, you need to turn the pan upside down to prevent the cake from imploding.

Chiffon Cake

The pan used in baking chiffon cake must not be greased at all. It should be used as is.

You will need to turn the cake in the pan upside down after it is done. This is to avoid the cake from becoming flat. So the process of cooling down include turning the cake upside down.

That’s why chiffon cake pans always have some kind of 3-4 legs to support the pan while being turned upside down.

Taking out the cake from the pan requires skill that you need to practice. This can be done with or without a knife. Please note that the cake has to be cool before taking it out from the pan.

The baking method is just the normal one without water bath.

The texture of the cake is a little bit drier than castella cake. But mostly it is almost the same, minus the jiggly part.

Castella Cake

On the contrary, when making castella cake you need to grease and line the pan with baking paper thoroughly, the bottom part, and the sides. So, the outcome is a soft texture on the sides and the bottom part of the cake.

The baking method for castella cake is aubain marie method. You basically put a bigger pan and fill it with water, and put the cake pan in the middle of the bigger pan.

taiwanese castella cake
Taiwanese castella cake – Pandan Chocolate

Ingredients

Eggs

Process the egg yolk and egg white separately. Mix egg yolks with other ingredients using a whisk. Beat the egg whites with sugar and lemon juice to create meringue.

Cake flour

You can use all-purpose flour if you want, but cake flour is better because it contains less gluten. It can produce a softer, more jiggly cake.

Oil / butter

Oil or butter is the ingredient to make the cake moist. In Taiwan, the bakers use oil for castella cake. In this recipe, although I use melted butter with no oil, it still creates a jiggly, soft, fluffy texture.

If you want to use oil, you can use any kind of oil that is neutral. I always use coconut oil.

Milk

You can add milk to thin out the batter and to add richness to the flavor. I use full cream milk.

Sugar

Sugar helps strengthen the meringue. Put the sugar in 3 parts while beating the egg whites.

Lemon juice / cream of tartar / white vinegar

To stabilize the meringue, you need lemon juice or lime juice, cream of tartar, or white vinegar. The meringue needs a little bit of acid to make it stabilized.

1/8 cream of tartar is added per 1 egg white.  For lemon juice you can add 1 tsp per 1 egg white.

Pandan extract

I use my own homemade pandan extract. 1-2 tablespoon is enough to get the fresh green color for the cake.

But if you don’t want to make your own pandan extract, you can also use store-bought pandan paste which is usually thicker and denser. Use 1-2 teaspoon and check if it is green enough.

Taiwanese Castella Cake Recipe – Pandan Chocolate

80 gr milk

48 gr unsalted butter (melt)

65 gr all purpose flour

  • 4 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp pandan extract
  • 4 egg white
  • 80 gr sugar
  • ½ tsp lemon juice

Decoration:

  • Chocolate paste
  • Mocha paste 

Step By Step

  1. Firstly, prepare all the ingredients to make the process faster and easier. I always prepare all the ingredients for cooking or baking beforehand. This helps a lot indeed.

ingredients taiwanese castella cake

  1. I use an oval pan 22 cm. If you don’t have an oval pan, you can use 6 by 6 inch square pan. Line it with parchment paper, the bottom, and all the sides.

  1. Prepare a bigger pan to accommodate the pan with the cake batter. Fill in some hot water in the bigger pan.

You can put the bigger pan with water while heating the oven.

Pandan paste

  1. In a bowl, put in the egg yolks, add milk, melted butter, and pandan extract.
  2. Sieve in the flour to avoid any lumps.
  3. Mix altogether with a whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Meringue

  1. In another bowl, put in the egg whites. Mix using a hand mixer, beat with medium high speed. Put in the sugar in 3 parts and the lemon juice.
  2. Beat using high speed once all the sugar and lemon juice is in. Continue beating until medium peak.
  3. Medium peak is when you can see the meringue forms a peak with a little hook slanting downward.
  4. Add 1/3 of the meringue to the pandan paste and gently fold using a whisk or a spatula.
  5. Make sure it is well incorporated. Add another part of the meringue and mix well.
  6. You can pour all the batter into the meringue bowl if it is bigger and mix them well.
  7. Make sure to scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl so there are no white meringue left.

Decoration

If you want to add some decoration on top, take 2 tablespoons of green batter into separate bowls.

Put in chocolate paste and mocha paste in each bowl. Mix them well.

Put the chocolate batter and mocha batter into a piping bag.

decoration
For decoration

You can start decorating the top of the cake after you tap the cake pan.

The pattern is up to you. You can follow the one in the video I made, it’s a batik pattern.

decoration
Decorating with a toothpick

Baking the cake

water bath
Water bath method
  1. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and tap it a few times to let any air bubble inside to pop out.
  2. Place the cake pan in the prepared water bath in the oven. Bake it 180°C for 65-75 minutes or until the cake is golden brown on the top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  3. After it is done, remove the cake from the oven, let it cool for a moment, take it out from the pan by lifting the baking paper. Peel the paper carefully and cut the cake.

Important Tips

  • Remember to line up the baking pan, the bottom and the sides. The height of the parchment paper at the sides can be higher than the pan. This is to help remove the cake from the pan after it is baked.
  • When beating the egg whites, you know it is medium peak when it forms a hook at the end.
  • Cut a small hole in the piping bag for decorating the cake. The batter is a bit runny, so if the hole is too big, it will drip too much.
  • Always check the oven to prevent the top burning too dark.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: What is the origin of Taiwanese Castella Cake?

A: Taiwanese Castella Cake originated in Japan during 16th century. It was introduced by Portuguese merchants and missionaries. Known as “Kasutera” in Japan, the cake made its way to Taiwan during Japanese colonization era.

Q: What variations are there from Taiwanese Castella Cake?

A: There are many variations of Taiwanese Castella Cake. Many variations include Taro, Green Tea Matcha, Chocolate, Pandan, Cheese.

Q: Are there any Taiwanese Castella Cake outside of Taiwan?

A: Yes. Taiwanese Castella Cake has spread worldwide, and most bakeries, online stores make this soft cake.

Q: How long does this cake stay fresh?

A: This cake can only stay fresh 3-4 days. However, you can wrap the cake and put it in the freezer for longer shelf life. When you are ready to consume it, you can thaw it in room temperature or warm it in the oven for a few minutes.

Q: Is Castella Cake served warm or cold?

A: You can serve castella cake in room temperature, waiting it to cool down a little bit after baking.

Conclusion

Taiwanese Castella Cake is so popular across Asian countries. Its jiggly, soft texture has made a lot of dessert lovers fall in love with it.

Check out how to make pandan chiffon cake here, so you can tell the difference!

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