This light, fluffy jiggly cake was the answer to all of our lockdown worries – well some of them. And it brought back some great memories of the bakeries in Taiwan that I used to frequent way too often.
By the way, the proper name of this case is Taiwanese Castella cake (I think the Chinese name is 古早味蛋糕). Like many seemingly European sweets, this probably came to Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era (and probably, originally from Portugal). But unlike other Castella cakes, it doesn’t use honey. When I first saw it, I assumed it was a bit like a fluffy Japanese cheesecake – but this one doesn’t use cheese.
This cake needs lots of eggs, which thankfully I have a lot of (did a last-minute Costco run before lock-down, which I kind of regret, and ended up with 60 eggs). The big secret here is whipped meringues to make the cake super soft, and of course, anything with eggs can be a bit hit or miss. Thankfully the cake rose to the occasion and my kids were so excited to make it with me, they almost forgot COVID stress for a moment.
This cake costs less than $4 to make – if you happened to have backyard chooks (sadly, we don’t) it would be even cheaper to make. And you can Instagram to your heart’s content knowing that you are tapping into one of the latest Asian food crazes.
70g plain flour
70g salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A squeeze of lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to around 150 celcius (fanforced).
- Choose a16cm round pan (traditionally a square or oblong pan is used, but I like to use a round one). As the cake will be baked in a bain marie, it’s best to use a cake tin that doesn’t have a removable base. Prepare the pan with a layer of baking paper and baking paper along the edges (as if you are baking a souffle).
- Sift the plain flower into a bowl.
- Separate the egg yolks and the egg whites into their own bowls and set aside.
- Place the milk, butter and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and cook until melted. Remove from the heat and pour into the flour, stirring with a whisk to combine. At this point it will look like the batter for a pancake.
- Whisk in the egg yolks, a few at a time. The mixutre should look thick and shiny, and at this point you might be wondering how this could ever turn into a cake.
- Beat the egg whites until they are starting to become fluffy.* Add the lemon juice and part of the sugar. Continue to beat, then stop and add the rest of the sugar. Continue beating until soft peaks form.**
- Using a spatula, gently fold less than a third of the beaten egg whites into the yellow batter. Then pour the batter back into the remaining meringue mixture, and continue to fold. Pour the batter gently into the prepared cake tin. Tap the tin a few times on the bench to remove any airbubbles.
- Place the cake pan into a larger tray, and fill halfway to the sides with boiling water. Bake for around 60 minutes. Then turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let it sit for around 10 minutes. This step will further help avoid it deflating.
- Before eating, peel off the baking paper around the cake. (My boys find this to be the most satisfying part).
*: ensure that your bowl and your electric beaters are totally dry. Moisture will prevent the egg whites from getting that impressive meringue look.
**: You want a good, thick beat here but you do not want the stiff peaks of a meringue. The risk of overbeating is that the cake will rise too much and crack on top. Yep, I’ve done this.\
This is a super cheap cake, especially if you have access to fabulous free eggs.
P.S. Couldn’t resist – my kids ‘jiggling’ the cake.