Pistachio Castella Cake (開心果古早味蛋糕)

I’m carrying the theme of my last blog post of making recipes being inspired by videos that I watch on YouTube and testing them out. Today I’m taking inspiration from a video by a Korean ASMR cooking channel called ‘Cooking tree 쿠킹트리’. Now I’m not the biggest fan of ASMR videos however the cakes, desserts and pastries that the channel make are super stunning and so visually pleasing.

One of the recipe videos that I first watched was the Green Tea Crepe Roll cake and it reminded me of my Crepe Cake. That’s definitely going to be one recipe for me to try in the future however in the meantime, I tried out the no-oven Castella cake but I baked the cake instead! I’ve put the video I referred to down below:

Castella cake is traditionally Japanese (brought to Japan from Portuguese merchants in the 16th Century) but the Castella I am making today is more a Taiwanese version, adapted from the traditional method of making to suit the Taiwanese taste. Most recipes I have seen for the Taiwanese version are usually baked inside a water bath but my adaption of the video does not do this step (mainly because I don’t have a tin big enough to do a water bath). The Chinese name for Castella cake is 古早味蛋糕 which translates to ‘old fashioned sponge’; ‘古’ means ancient, ‘早’ means early, ‘味’ means flavour, ‘蛋糕’ means cake and ‘開心果’ means pistachio so this is my Pistachio Castella Cake.

Now I’m not too sure whether this is an authentic Castella cake recipe however the cake is incredibly delicate, light and fluffy. I don’t have the confidence to squash the cake like in the video I took inspiration from or jiggle my Castella cake too much but the light and airy texture is highly satisfying in itself! The cake is made using a meringue base which lends that really light texture to the final cake. It follows a basic whisked sponge method which I detail more in my Hazelnut and Coffee Traybake, except the egg whites are whisked, adding the sugar gradually and the egg yolks are whisked in afterwards.

While doing the testing for this cake recipe, I found a way to really easily line the sides of the tin to get really tight corners. Grease the sides and base of a 20cm square tin. Cut strips of parchment which are slightly longer than 20cm and 1cm higher than the sides of the tin. Use a pair of scissors to cut small notches about 1cm along the long edge of the parchment. Place the squares on the base on the tin and line the sides with the rest of the parchment so it fits snugly. Repeat for all 4 sides and then cut out a square of parchment to line the base.

Check out my other Chinese-inspired cakes and desserts:

Malaysian Steamed Sponge Cake (馬拉糕)

Coconut Milk Pudding Dim Sum (椰汁糕)

Baked Chinese New Year Glutinous Rice Cake (焗年糕)

50g shelled pistachios, roasted

20ml vegetable oil

16ml whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 egg whites

100g granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

75g plain flour

15g custard powder

First prepare the baking tin as detailed above. Place the pistachios into a sandwich bag and use a rolling pin to bash them into small pieces with some larger chunks and some smaller pieces like dust. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, whole milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large clean metal bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed and the sugar has dissolved, testing by feeling the meringue between your fingers.

Switching to a hand whisk, whisk in the egg yolks until the batter is an even light orange colour. Sift over the plain flour and custard powder and use a spatula to fold through the dry ingredients. Use the spatula to transfer some of the batter to the bowl with the oil, milk and vanilla and mix until it is even. Pour the mixture back into the large bowl and fold to incorporate until the cake batter is even.

Transfer the cake batter to the tin and level out the batter as evenly as possible. Sprinkle over the crushed pistachios and bake the cake for around 15 – 18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the very centre comes out clean. Hit the bottom of the tin while still warm; this can prevent the cake from shrinking too much.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool fully. The cake will deflate slightly after being removed from the oven, this is normal. It is easiest to leave the baking parchment on the cake and taking it off once the cake is fully cooled.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. elfhaven13 says:

    I always like to find pistachio recipes & this sounds good. It looks dense but sounds light? How did you like the texture?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bea, thanks for the comment! I’m glad you like the cake, yeah it is a bit dense but also light so it’s super easy to eat! A lot of Chinese cakes are made following this method so it’s a texture I grew up with and really enjoy, it’s really different to the texture of most cakes made with the creaming method!


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