The sweet history
One of the theories is that this very popular, sponge cake like sweet in Japan, was named after Castilla monarchy in Spain. Another one said that their official royal bread is kasutera but the royal bread is hard and not sweet and nothing like kasutera today. There are many other theories about introduction of kasutera also. Dutch, Spain, Portugal and China all have a claim for its origin. I don’t know why there are no accurate accounts. When Nagasaki was opened for imports in 1571, the Japanese’s joyful acceptance of sugar grew and they developed kasutera into softer and sweeter taste. The journey took 70 years to perfect though. At that time in Japan they didn’t have the practice to use dairy products so kasutera recipe requires no milk products and has had great staying power in Japan. As for the oven, they didn’t have one back then but they used hikigama (引き釜）with charcoal, this original Japanese equipment was very helpful. I’m glad nobody gave up making, changing and developing this into really wonderful treat. Ryoma Sakamoto (坂本竜馬）who led the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and the founder of the first modern corporation in Japan - kaientai (海援隊), wrote the kasutera recipe in his record of this corporation.That is more interesting than our cookbooks today, I think.
I have a few kasutera recipes but I choose this one because it doesn’t use milk and I think is similar to the recipe of Fukusaya (福砂屋 since 1624）the original kasutera maker in Nagasaki. And it’s the easiest. Wait a couple days to eat it for a moister version.
- Eggs 8 at room temperature
- Honey 5 tablespoons
- Mirin 5 Tablespoons
- Sugar 200g
- Flour 240g
- In a electric mixer, put all eggs and beat at low speed for 1 minute.
- Add sugar and mix, starting at low speed then increasing to high speed for 5 minutes or until lifting up the beater leaves a ribbon mark.
- Mix honey and mirin in a small bowl and microwave for 30 second at 60% power
- Add honey mixture into egg mixture then at mix at low speed until well combined - about 1 minute.
- Add flour and mix at low speed. Do not over mix - about 1 minute.
- Pour into a 9x9 pan lined with parchment paper that goes 2 inches over the pan.
- Tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to remove the air bubbles.
- Stir thru the batter several times with a skewer to help remove large air bubbles.
- Bake at 340 F for 10 minutes then lower the oven heat to 285 F for 40 to 45 minutes.
- When it’s done, remove from oven and drop pan from about a foot high ( that will prevent shrinkage).
- Stretch plastic wrap on the counter and turn the pan over on the wrap. Remove the kasutera from the pan and carefully remove the paper. Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap.
- Wait a couple days before eating for moist kasutera. Do not refrigerate as this will make the kasutera stick to the plastic.
- If you are used to the Japanese way, remove the edges. When serving the cake is left upside down.
Replace 4 tablespoons of the flour with 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder to make cocoa kasutera.