Castella or Katsutera is a Japanese-styled cake that is similar to sponge cake, but not so. I would call this refreshing Lemon Castella Cake more of cotton-y!
I really love the light and fluffy texture, plus it does not costs a lot of calories! A pretty much healthier bake I would say!
Usually, Katsutera or Castella cakes come with more savoury and milder flavours such as Matcha and Honey. However, I am going to up it a notch by introducing a lemon flavoured one!
This is inspired by my Lemon Drizzle Cake and Lemon Bars. One of my close friends in my army camp love both of them a lot, and I wanted to bake the Lemon Bars again today but I decided why not try something new. Hence, this Lemon Castella Cake was born.
This Lemon Katsutera or Castella Cake is the suitable Castella Cake Recipe for beginners due to the usage of lemon juice in the recipe, which will be elaborated. Whipping up of egg whites will get a lot easier.
I shall now elaborate the recipe, method and ingredients.
This recipe is not easy, but you can definitely succeed on the first try if you follow the instructions well! This recipe is really rewarding especially considering how it requires just a few ingredients and once you get it right, you are likely to get it right for your subsequent tries.
Don’t be dejected however if you fail. Just keep trying and you will eventually be able to get it! Please do not try blindly however. Find out where you go wrong and you will be able to have a higher chance of success with each try!
Now to the method. The exact pictures matching to some of the steps are available after the explanation of the ingredients, and before the recipe card.
The crucial step here is achieving the ribbon stage or really soft peaks for the egg whites. In order to achieve this, ensure that you are using metal bowls and utensils. This is because plastic ones tend to still contain traces of fats and proteins that prevent egg whites from being whipped no matter how well you clean them. As such, even for your metal ones, ensure you clean them well!
Usually, we will just whip our egg whites up with just sugar. Occasionally, we add cream of tartar, an acidic agent, to aid in the protein coagulation. However, today we are going to use that to our advantage to create this lemon castella cake.
The acidic agent we are using will be substituted using lemon juice. This will do the same job as cream of tartar to allow the egg whites to increase in volume, while adding the lemon flavour we want. This is how you kill two birds with one stone!
For the ingredients there are pretty few so there won’t be much elaboration needed.
We are using bread flour here instead of plain flour in order to achieve the spongy texture and to create a structure for the cake. Do not use other types of flour but plain flour!
For the egg whites, ensure that you separate them well from the yolks. If there are just very small traces of egg yolks, try your best to remove them to the best of your abilities. The proteins and fats of the yolks might cause the failure of being able to whip up the eggs whites.
The extra boost of lemon flavour also comes from the added lemon zest, plus applying lemon juice at the top of the cake after it is baked! Here’s another close up before showing the step by step picture!
Here are some pictures matching the steps if you need some guidance:
1. End of Step 3, or start of Step 4 before addition of more caster sugar and lemon juice
2. End of Step 4, consistency.
3. Final Batter consistency
Now, to the recipe!
Lemon Castella Cake
by Javier Tan September-17-2017
A nice spongy Japanese cake infused with the mild but enjoyable tanginess of lemons!
- 5 Large Eggs, each about 55g, Separated into yolks and whites
- 1 and 1/4 Cups or 150g Bread Flour, Sifted
- 1 Cup or 200g Caster Sugar
- Lemon Zest from 2 Lemons
- 2 Tablespoons of 30ml Lemon Juice to be mixed into Batter
- Excess Lemon Juice from 2 Lemons for Brushing
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C and line your 8 x 8 inches baking tray with parchment paper.
- To the 5 egg whites mix it on low speed until it is frothy and bubbly. About 45 seconds.
- Add in half the lemon juice and half the caster sugar and mix on medium speed until it has increased about twice in volume. About 2 minutes.
- Proceed to add in the remaining sugar and lemon juice and mix on medium high until the ribbon stage, or very soft peaks. You know you have reached here when you release your mixer and the egg white droops over very fast, and only disintegrates back into the main mixture over about 5-6 minutes. About 4 minutes of mixing.
- Add in the 5 egg yolks and lemon zest on low speed, until a single uniform colour is observed.
- Add in the sifted bread flour on low speed until just dissolved.
- Pour it into the baking tray. Hit the baking tray against the counter or floor to dislodge excessive air bubbles.
- Bake for about 38-45 minutes or until it is golden brown on the top, retracts from the sides of the pan and springy to touch ( do not touch too long or you will burn yourself ).
- Immediately when it comes out of the oven, brush some lemon juice across the surface and rest it for 10 minutes.
- Then, invert the pan upside down and wrap it with parchment paper or aluminium foil and store it in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to maintain moisture.
- Cut using a sawing motion, with a sharp preferably serrated knife when ready to serve. Cut off the edges if desired.
- Prep time: 20 mins
- Cook time: 40 mins
- Total time: 1 hour
- Yield: Two 3.5 inches wide, 7.5″ long cakes
- If you need pictures for the steps, or need more explanation about the method and ingredients, I strongly recommend you to read the preview for this recipe above the recipe card.
- It stores well for up to 1 week in room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- The lemon i used weighs 100g each.
- The amount of lemon juice to brush over the top depends on your personal preference. It adds a nice zesty lemony taste as it is pure lemon juice added without any sugar.
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– Bakeomaniac, Javier Tan