Have been putting off baking Castella cakes since most recipes require steam-baking. I do not have a steam oven, neither do I have a large roasting pan to hold my cake pan to do a “water-bath”. The aha moment came only when I saw this 6-inch Castella cake recipe: I can water bath this 6-inch cake in a 10-inch cake pan! I even get to omit using aluminum foil to wrap my pan since I am not using a springform pan, the only item discarded after baking this cake is the parchment paper used to line the base of the pan. There is no need to line the side of the pan.
Using the steam baking method definitely made the cake airy yet producing a fine and moist texture. No cracked top, and not much shrinkage after cooling down, all thanks to the slower (1 hour at 150C) yet even heat source from the water bath, just like this steamed chocolate cake recipe post has described.
Trim the round cake into a thick rectangular slab to serve, just like the ones attracting long queues at the malls. I found this article in mandarin that is super detailed with its step-by-step method, definitely worth a read. The instructions has an additional step to slash the top halfway during baking to make it split evenly for the rest of the process. I am thinking of making this variation already for my next attempt.
6 -INCH CASTELLA CAKE
adapted from My Mind Patch 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated * 40g rice bran oil 50g plain flour ** 30g fresh milk 40g raw sugar pinch of salt Optional: 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* I use eggs weighting 70g with shells for this recipe
** original recipe called for top/cake flour, I used plain flour to bake and the texture is still very fluffy to me.
Warm up rice bran oil in a saucepan over low heat, watch the oil carefully and turn off the fire once you see waves/lines begin to form at the base of the pot.
Add the plain flour to the warm oil and mix with a spatula, then add milk and vanilla extract, and stir to mix again.
Next, add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring well to form an even mixture before adding the next yolk. Set this batter aside.
To prepare meringue, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Add raw sugar next and whisk this mixture until it forms soft peaks.
Add about 1/3 of the meringue to the cake batter and mix well with a spatula.
Fold in the rest of the meringue to form an even cake batter.
Prepare a 6-inch cake pan by lining just the base with parchment paper. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bang the pan on the table 3 times to get rid of air bubbles trapped inside the batter. Removing these trapped bubbles ensure an even and smooth finished cake texture.
Place this pan inside a 9 or 10-inch round pan (or roasting pan if you have one) and fill the larger pan with about 2-cm deep of hot water. Send the cake to bake immediately in a preheated 150C oven for 1 hour.
When the cake is done, remove from oven and drop the cake pan from a height of 10cm onto a padded counter top, 3 times. This is supposed to help preventing excessive shrinkage during as the cake cools. Leave the cake inside the pan to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning the cake out, removing the parchment paper at the base of the cake. Return the cake to the pan and cool it further 15 minutes. This cake serves best when still warm.