easy desserts & recipes: not pigs in the blanket a castella pancake called dorayaki
A lot of Japanese desserts tend to be squishy. “Squishy” is not an inviting word to describe something edible, nor the term “glutinous”. Traditional Japanese desserts are just that: sticky, chewy, or mushy such as ohagi (glutinous rice cakes) and kurikinton (pureed sweet potato with candied chestnuts). But picture perfect, nevertheless. The Japanese always eat with their eyes as well as their mouths. This makes the preparation of the common Japanese desserts tedious and meticulous, much like creating works of art.
One of the few Japanese desserts I love, and not to mention an exception to the description “sticky,” is castella. It is a Japanese sponge cake made typically from flour, sugar, eggs, and starch syrup. History indicates that Portuguese merchants introduced this dessert in the 16th century and it was called Pão de Castela, which means “bread from Castile.” It is known to be the specialty of Nagasaki. Although it may look simple, its aroma, moist and fluffy appearance, and classic golden brown top are quite inviting.
Today, the castella is known as the Japanese sponge cake and is hailed worldwide. There are several variations to the castella with Western influences such as chocolate, cheese and black sugar compared to the more Japanese matcha castella.
There are several versions of the castella all around the world. In France, it is known as Pain d’Espagne, in Turkey it’s Pandispanya, in Portugal it’s Pão de Espanha, and so on and so forth. I think the adaption of the Marron Glacé (candied chestnuts) is the West meets East version that adds a sublime taste to any dessert.
I’m not a huge fan of sugary adzuki (bean paste), but I do love Marron Glacé, (Candied Chestnuts) aside from mochi and red bean soup (Zenzai). But hey, they look good and also photograph well. I love to put some raw cream on the top. While this feature is not one of my favorites, tastes are entirely subjective. Would anyone out there die for a dorayaki? I thought not!
I like to use a Castella (or English Madeira Cake Recipe which is very close to the Japanese Castella Cake), and cook the mix as you would a pancake, it yields are much more buttery and delicious results, below is a typical Dorayaki Recipe.
Adapted From: Cook it Simply
makes 12 slices
175 g (6 oz) butter
175 g (6 oz) caster sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
100 g (4 oz) plain flour
100 g (4 oz) self-raising flour
about 15 – 30 ml (1 – 2 tbsp) fresh milk
2-3 thin slices of citron peel
Grease and line a deep 18 cm (7 inch) round cake tin.If you are making Dorayaki, you would skip this step, and cook the batter as you would a pancake.
2. Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla essence until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the two flours together and fold into the creamed mixture, adding a little milk if necessary to give a dropping consistency.
3. Turn into the prepared tin and bake at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for 20 minutes. Arrange the citron slices across the top of the cake and return it to the oven for a further 40 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn out and cool on a wire rack. Notes: You can use half and half for the cake and the other half to make the Dorayaki.
Typical Dorayaki Recipe
Recipe From: Cookpad
Rice flour confectionery 90 g
Baking powder 1 tsp.
Eggs (M) Two
sugar 1 tbsp.
Honey 1 tbsp.
Mirin 1 tbsp.
Oil 1 tbsp.
Bean marmalade 2 × 7 tbsp.
Whip all the ingredients together and place the mix, using a ladle to get a perfectly shaped pancake into a non-stick pan, cook as you would a pancake.