Forget about joining the snaking queues for castella cake. Make it yourself instead with this step-by-step video recipe by award-winning pastry chef and owner of patisserie-restaurant chain Antoinette, Pang Kok Keong.
Chef Pang, 42, has created castella cake with a twist by infusing milk with Earl Grey tea. Use plain milk if you prefer a more classic cake.
His soft and smooth version is similar to the Taiwanese ones that are available here. They differ from the heavier and more dense Japanese-style castella. The cake is also less sweet.
Enjoy the fragrant cake with a cup of tea and a dollop of chantilly cream.
EARL GREY CASTELLA CAKE
For the Earl Grey tea infusion:
45g loose-leaf Earl Grey tea leaves
For the cake:
195g vegetable oil
240g cake flour, sifted
160g Earl Grey tea milk infusion (see above)
310g egg yolk
475g egg white
220g caster sugar
Creme chantilly to serve (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 150 deg C.
2. In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, bring 250g of milk to a boil.
3. When the milk comes to a boil, take it off the heat and add the tea leaves. Stir, cover the saucepan, and leave to steep for at least 20 minutes. For a stronger tea flavour, leave to steep for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare two 20cm square cake tins. If they have removable bases, wrap the outside of the tins tightly with aluminium foil (above) to prevent water from seeping into the cake during the hot water bath baking process.
5. Next, cut eight rectangular pieces of cardboard of 20cm width and 12cm height.These are to be placed vertically against the inside walls of the cake tin. Place one piece of cardboard on each side of the tin. Repeat for second tin.
6. Line the tins with grease-proof baking paper (above). The pieces of cardboard should be placed between the walls of the tin and the baking paper.
7. Set the tins aside.
8. When the tea infusion is ready, strain it. It should yield about 160g of liquid. Weigh the liquid and, if necessary, add more milk to the tea infusion till it reaches 160g. Set aside.
9. In a heat-proof bowl, heat the oil in a microwave oven in intervals of 20 to 30 seconds each, then measure the temperature with a thermometer. Repeat until the oil reaches 100 deg C.
10. Pour the hot oil into a dry and clean mixing bowl. Add the sifted flour. Whisk the flour and oil mixture by hand, until smooth and well-combined.
11. Add the tea infusion and egg yolks. Whisk until smooth and well-combined. Set aside.
12. To make the meringue: Whisk the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. When the egg whites turn white and foamy, lower the speed to medium, then add the sugar in a slow and steady stream. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk the whites on high speed until soft peaks form (above).
13. Add 1/3 of the meringue into the Earl Grey egg yolk mixture. Using a whisk, mix gently until well-combined.
14. Now, pour this mixture into the remaining meringue. Fold using a spatula until the batter is smooth.
15. Divide the cake batter into two equal portions - each tin should have about 750g of batter.
16. Knock the tins on the counter top to rid the cake batter of trapped air bubbles.
17. Place each tin in a tray and fill it with boiling water to a depth of 2 to 3cm.
18. Bake the cakes in the oven for 1 hour. The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into their centres comes out clean.
19. Unmould immediately and slice using a serrated knife. Serve with a dollop of creme chantilly.
Makes two 20cm square cakes