Taiwanese Castella Cake

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 04/09/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 1 hour 10 minutes
Total 1 hour 35 minutes
Taiwanese castella cake has a signature fluffy, bouncy texture, and the most delicate sweetness. This popular Taiwanese dessert, is made with simple ingredients and yields the most satisfying bite you’ve ever tasted.
Taiwanese Castella Cake

Taiwanese castella cake has a signature fluffy, bouncy texture, and the most delicate sweetness. This popular Taiwanese dessert is made with simple ingredients and yields the most satisfying bite you’ve ever tasted.

A Taiwanese castella cake freshly out of the oven.

Taiwanese castella cake is a type of sponge cake that is known for its iconic jiggly, bouncy nature, smooth golden brown crust, incredible moisture, and light delicate sweetness. Beyond its pillowy soft appearance and irresistible aroma, this Taiwanese cake transports you to a world of intricate flavors and gentle textures.

This Taiwanese cake recipe may seem intimidating, but it is not as difficult as it looks with all of my tips and tricks! Serve this souffle cake with a side of whipped cream and berries for the ultimate sweet treat.

Baking is my favorite form of therapy. Baking a super soft, tender castella cake from scratch provides the most satisfying feeling of accomplishment. If you are looking for more soft and fluffy cake inspiration, check out our Japanese cotton cheesecake, Japanese cake roll, or mango cake.

Slices of Taiwanese castella cake on a marble serving board.

What is Taiwanese Castella Cake?

Taiwanese castella cake, or Taiwanese sponge cake, is a popular light Taiwanese dessert that was adapted from the Japanese castella cake. It is a type of sponge cake that is known for its incredibly light, fluffy texture, distinct rectangular shape, and subtle sweetness.

The primary ingredients for castella cake include eggs, sugar, milk, butter, cake flour, vanilla, and sugar or honey. Taiwanese castella are baked in a water bath for a slow rise that has very tight bubbles in its crumb texture. In Taiwanese bakeries, they are typically baked in large pans that are sliced into rectangles straight out of the oven.

Two slices of Taiwanese castella cake on a dessert plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Light, Airy Fluffiness. This castella cake recipe yields the most tender and soft embrace within every bite. The texture is unbeatable.
  • Not too sweet! The subtle amount of sugar in this Taiwanese cake yields a perfect amount of sweetness that is not too sweet and simply delightful.
  • Simple and Elegant. This Taiwanese castella cake recipe only uses a handful of ingredients that showcase each individual flavor and create an elegant and delicate centerpiece.
Someone breaking apart a piece of Taiwanese castella cake to show the texture inside.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following items of kitchen equipment to make this Taiwanese castella recipe.

  • Kitchen Scale: For the most fool-proof sponge cake, I recommend measuring out all of the ingredients with a kitchen scale for the most accurate measurements.
  • Oven thermometer: Not all ovens are 100% accurate in terms of temperature. To ensure that your oven is at the right temperature, have an oven thermometer inside the oven.
  • Electric Mixer: An electric hand mixer or electric stand mixer is necessary to whip up the egg white meringue to soft peaks.
  • Small saucepan: A small saucepan will be used to heat the butter and milk together.
  • Thermometer: You will need a thermometer to check the temperature of the butter and milk mixture and the water bath temperature.
  • Mixing Bowls: You will need multiple large mixing bowls to make the egg white meringue and egg yolk mixture.
  • Fine Mesh Sieve: You will need to sift the cake flour with a fine mesh sieve to remove any clumps.
  • 8x8x3 Cake Pan: This Taiwanese castella cake recipe yields enough batter for an 8x8x3 cake pan. I like to use a cake pan that is solid along all the edges to prevent any leakage from the water bath.
  • Parchment paper: This Taiwanese cake requires a parchment paper lined pan for easy removal.
  • Larger pan or roasting pan: You will use a larger pan to bake the souffle cake in a water bath.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this Taiwanese castella cake recipe at your local grocery store.

  • Cake Flour: Cake flour is a light, finely milled flour with a lower protein content than any other flour. It yields a fluffy and soft cake.
  • Salt: A dash of salt balances out the sweet flavors.
  • Unsalted Butter: Butter contains milk solids, fat, and water which adds flavor, moisture, and depth to the cake.
  • Milk: Milk adds fat and moisture to the Taiwanese cake.
  • Large Eggs: The eggs are the main base of this souffle cake. The egg whites are used to make the meringue which yields a soft cotton texture and the egg yolks add to the rich moisture and flavor in the cake.
  • Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar acts as a stabilizer for the egg whites.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds a subtle vanilla flavoring that masks the “eggy” flavor of the cake.
  • Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is the main sweetening agent for this castella recipe.
All the ingredients to make a Taiwanese castella cake.

Substitutions and Additions

This is your Taiwanese castella cake recipe. You can customize it however you please with whatever ingredients you have available to you. I’ve listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions for you below.

Substitutions

  • All-Purpose Flour + Cornstarch: If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute it with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Then remove 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  • Oil: Instead of butter, you can use any neutral oil for a tender, moist cake.
  • Lemon Juice or White Vinegar: Instead of cream of tartar, you can use lemon juice or white vinegar as a stabilizer for the meringue.

Additions

  • Honey: If you’d like to make a Taiwanese honey castella cake, add 2 tablespoons of honey
  • Cocoa powder: If you’d like to make a chocolate castella cake, you can always add 1/3 cup of sifted cocoa powder.
  • Matcha powder: For a matcha castella cake, use 1 tablespoon of sifted matcha powder.

How to Make Taiwanese Castella Cake

Here are the instructions on how to make this Taiwanese castella cake recipe. I recommend reading all the instructions and tips first before you begin.

Castella Cake Batter

  1. Prepare the pan and oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and line all the edges of an 8x8x3 inch pan with parchment paper with the parchment paper 1 inch higher than the pan. If your pan is not completely sealed along the corners, wrap the pan with aluminum foil. Heat hot water to about 175°F or (79°C) for the water bath.
A prepared lined baking pan and water bath pan.
  1. Sift the cake flour and salt. In a large mixing bowl, sift the cake flour and salt to remove any clumps.
Sifted dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  1. Warm butter and milk. In a small saucepan, add the butter and milk over medium heat. Heat until the butter is just melted and warm at about 120°F (49°C). Do not bring to a simmer or boil.
  2. Combine. Combine the warmed butter and milk with the sifted cake flour. Whisk until combined.
Pouring melted butter and milk into a bowl of sifted flour.
  1. Add egg yolks one at a time and vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking to incorporate each yolk before adding the next one. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Then add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  1. Make the meringue. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, wipe the bowl and the whisk with a thin layer of white vinegar. Then beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until foamy. While the mixer is beating, slowly pour 1/3 of the sugar and mix to incorporate at medium speed. Repeat with the remaining 2 batches of sugar until it reaches soft peaks.
A meringue with soft peaks.
  1. Combine. Combine 1/3 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and fold by using a spatula and lifting the two mixtures and turning them over until combined. Repeat two more times with the remaining meringue. Continue folding until uniform in color.
The completed batter for Taiwanese castella cake.

Bake and Serve

  1. Pour the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan from about 12 inches from the pan. Then tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles. Use a toothpick to remove any remaining bubbles.
Taiwanese castella cake batter poured into a lined baking pan.
  1. Place in a water bath. Place the cake pan in a larger baking pan and then pour in the hot water (175°F or 79°C) to about 1 inch to 1.5 inch up the side of the square pan.
A taiwanese castella cake in a water bath ready to bake.
  1. Bake. On the lower 1/3 rack in the oven, bake the castella cake for about 65-70 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown at the top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  2. Serve. Let the Taiwanese castella cake sit for 2 minutes before removing it from the pan, peeling the parchment paper, and slicing. The cake will slightly deflate as it cools.
A Taiwanese castella cake freshly out of the oven.

Tips for the Best Taiwanese Castella Cake

  • Measure the ingredients with a kitchen scale: The majority of ingredients are on a 1:1 ratio that is most precisely measured using a kitchen scale.
  • Line the cake pan with parchment paper. Make sure to line all the edges of the cake pan with parchment paper. Leave about 1 inch of parchment paper above the cake pan for easy removal.
  • If not a solid cake pan, line with aluminum foil. If your cake pan has edges that are not completely sealed like along the corners, then line the outside of your pan with aluminum foil to prevent any leakage.
  • Heat the milk and butter to just melted. Heat the milk and butter to break down the proteins in the flour which creates a soft sponge. Make sure to not overcook the milk and butter and warm until it reaches 120°F (49°C). Too hot and the dough will be too sticky.
  • Fold the batter gently. After creating the perfect meringue, gently fold in the egg yolk batter by using a rubber spatula, scraping the edge then the bottom of the bowl, and then lifting up to fold the batter over onto itself. Make sure to fold until just combined. Over-folding can lead to a dense and flat cake.
  • Make sure the water bath is hot but not boiling. We do not want the water to evaporate too quickly during the bake so make sure the water is at around 175°F or (79°C).

Tips for Foolproof Meringue

  • Wipe your bowl and mixer with vinegar. Wiping your meringue bowl and mixer with vinegar will remove any fat residue that could prevent the egg whites from whipping fully. Use a paper towel and dip it in white vinegar.
  • Do not use plastic bowls for meringue. For the meringue, do not use any plastic bowls since they have a porous surface and definitely hold residual oils.
  • Use room-temperature eggs and cream of tartar. Room-temperature egg whites and cream of tartar create a firmer and more stable meringue. This is important since the eggs are the main leavening ingredient that holds the key to its rise.
  • Whip egg whites at medium speed. Whip the eggs at medium speed so the egg whites have time for the sugar to dissolve. The slower speed also prevents any large air bubbles from forming and cracking the surface.
  • Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Soft peaks are when the egg whites are white and glossy and when you lift the whisk a small peak forms and then flops over. Don’t whip to stiff peaks, this will lead to cracks on the top.

Storage Instructions

This castella cake is best enjoyed the day it is baked. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

Alternatively, you can wrap the Taiwanese castella cake in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer-proof container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Why did my cake crack?

While not the end of the world, your Castella cake may have cracked because

  • The meringue was overwhipped to stiff peaks
  • The oven temperature was too hot
  • The water bath was too hot or there was not enough water in your water bath.

Why did my cake deflate?

The souffle cake will deflate slightly after cooling. If your Taiwanese cake is deflating significantly it could be due to the meringue being over-whipped, or you did not bake the cake long enough, and is raw in the center.

Is castella cake the same as pound cake?

No, castella sponges have a much finer, and compact texture than a traditional pound cake. The texture is also lighter and melts quicker in your mouth than a pound cake. Its texture is closer to a chiffon cake, with a smooth and bouncy texture. Also, castella cakes require a water bath to bake in whereas a pound cake does not.

What is the difference between Taiwanese castella cake and Japanese castella cake?

Castella cake originated in the kingdom of Castilla which is present-day Spain. The cake was originally called pao de lo. The Castella recipe was passed on to Japanese people by Portuguese missionaries who learned it from the Dutch. The Japanese then passed it on to Taiwanese people who adapted their own version.

The Japanese castella cake is sweeter and denser since it is made with bread flour and a type of sugar syrup or honey. Whereas, this Taiwanese castella cake recipe is made with cake flour and sugar instead for a light, jiggly and bouncy texture.

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Slices of Taiwanese castella cake on a marble serving board.

Taiwanese Castella Cake

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Taiwanese castella cake has a signature fluffy, bouncy texture, and the most delicate sweetness. This popular Taiwanese dessert, is made with simple ingredients and yields the most satisfying bite you’ve ever tasted.
Servings: 10 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

Castella Cake Batter

  • Prepare the pan and oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and line all the edges of an 8x8x3 inch pan with parchment paper with the parchment paper 1 inch higher than the pan. If your pan is not completely sealed along the corners, wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil. Heat hot water to about 175°F or (79°C) for the water bath.
  • Sift the cake flour and salt. In a large mixing bowl, sift the cake flour and salt to remove any clumps.
  • Warm butter and milk. In a small saucepan, add the butter and milk over medium heat. Heat until the butter is just melted and steamy about 120°F (49°C). Do not bring to a simmer or boil.
  • Combine. Combine the warmed butter and milk with the sifted cake flour. Whisk until combined.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time and vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking to incorporate each yolk before adding the next one. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Then add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  • Make the meringue. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, wipe the bowl and the whisk with a thin layer of white vinegar. Then beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until foamy. While the mixer is beating, slowly pour 1/3 of the sugar and mix to incorporate at medium speed. Repeat with the remaining 2 batches of sugar until the meringue has reached soft peaks. You will know the meringue is done when you lift the whisk and the meringue tips flop over and do not hold a stiff peak.
  • Combine. Combine 1/3 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and fold by using a spatula and lifting the two mixtures and turning them over until combined. Repeat two more times with the remaining meringue. Continue folding until uniform in color.

Bake and Serve

  • Pour the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan from about 12 inches from the pan. Then tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles. Use a toothpick to remove any remaining bubbles.
  • Place in a water bath. Place the cake pan in a larger baking pan and then pour in the hot water (175°F or 79°C) to about 1 inch to 1.5 inch up the side of the square pan.
  • Bake. On the lower 1/3 rack in the oven, bake the castella cake for about 65-70 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown at the top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Serve. Let the Taiwanese castella cake sit for 2 minutes before removing it from the pan, peeling the parchment paper, and slicing. The cake will slightly deflate as it cools.

Notes

  • Measure the ingredients with a kitchen scale: the majority of ingredients are on a 1:1 ratio that is most precisely measured using a kitchen scale.
  • Line the cake pan with parchment paper. Make sure to line all the edges of the cake pan with parchment paper. Leave about 1 inch of parchment paper above the cake pan for easy removal.
  • If not a solid cake pan, line with aluminum foil. If your cake pan has edges that are not completely sealed like along the corners, then line the outside of your pan with aluminum foil to prevent any leakage.
  • Heat the milk and butter to just melted. Heat the milk and butter breaks down the proteins in the flour which creates a soft sponge. Make sure to not overcook the milk and butter and warm until it reaches 120°F or 49°C. Too hot and the dough will be too sticky.
  • Fold the batter gently. After creating the perfect meringue, gently fold in the egg yolk batter by using a rubber spatula, scraping the edge then bottom of the bowl and then lifting up to fold the batter over onto itself. Make sure to fold until just combined. Over folding can lead to a dense and flat cake.
  • Make sure the water bath is hot but not boiling. We do not want the water to evaporate too quickly during the bake so make sure the water is at around 175°F or (79°C).

Tips for Foolproof Meringue

  • Wipe your bowl and mixer with vinegar. Wiping your meringue bowl and mixer with vinegar will remove any fat residue that could prevent the egg whites from whipping fully. Use a paper towel and dip it in white vinegar.
  • Do not use plastic bowls for meringue. For the meringue, do not use any plastic bowls since they have a porous surface and definitely hold residual oils.
  • Use room temperature eggs and cream of tartar. Room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar create a firmer and more stable meringue. This is important since the eggs are the main leavening ingredient that hold the key to its rise.
  • Whip egg whites at medium speed. Whip the eggs at medium speed so the egg whites have time for the sugar to dissolve. The slower speed also, prevents any large air bubbles from forming and cracking the surface.
  • Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Soft peaks is when the egg whites are white and glossy and when you lift the whisk a small peak forms and then flops over. Don’t whip to stiff peaks, this will lead to cracks on the top.

Storage Instructions

This castella cake is best enjoyed the day it is baked. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.
Alternatively, you can wrap the Taiwanese castella cake in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer proof container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Nutrition:

Calories: 251kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 536IU | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg

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