I told myself I wasn’t going to do any baking this week. I was going to avoid the kitchen in lieu of being productive and getting important things done in all the other areas of my life.
And then the spark of an idea led to me tumbling down the rabbit hole–flipping through a handful of cookbooks and spending a solid hour furiously Googling subsequent ideas… Until not only was I in the kitchen, but I had about four projects in various stages spread across every available counter space as I vaguely listened to 30 Rock playing from my computer while sitting cross-legged in front of my oven, carefully regarding the cakes inside.
Despite not understanding how the oven in my parents new house can simultaneously over and under cook the things I try to bake, my evening baking adventure turned out to be quite a success.
Half following some recipes and half throwing in ingredients haphazardly like the rebel I am, I ended up with a Honey Castella Cake, Almond Matcha Mousse, Matcha Spread, and Honey Almond Buttercream–which I turned into a layer cake. (If you are new to my blog I think you will quickly find that I can turn just about anything into a layer cake 😛 ).
Castella is a type of sponge cake, currently associated with Japan though before it was カステラ it was Pao de Castela, a Portuguese creation that was first introduced to Japan in about 1500. Clearly the cake is delicious, as it has stood the test of time in multiple countries!
Typically the castella is baked in a loaf shape mold, and when it is finished its sides are cut off, leaving its traditional dark crust on the top and bottom–a great contrast to the pale and fluffy insides. I, however, used a recipe created for a 9×13″ pan and then adapted it to go in four 6″ circle cake molds. I then used two of the cakes (cut in half) for my layer cake, and sliced up the other two to serve with my matcha tea spread.
Being so effervescent, the cake is great for just munching on–especially with a little smear of spread or jam. I will tell you more about my Matcha Spread in another post, as it is part of a larger adventure to see if I can replicate a Black Tea Spread some friends of mine picked up for me while in Jeju, South Korea.
So back to my layer cake.
I’m getting a little bored with just filling my cakes with buttercream or jam. It’s simple. It’s expected. And while it is great and easy if you don’t have a lot of time, it doesn’t add a ‘wow factor’ to the cake.
So since I am trying to venture more and more into the world of French Entremets, I decided to make my layer cake a bit more of a fusion cake than it already was by adding a matcha mousse between the cake layers to give the cake height and flavor without overwhelming the eater with sugary sweetness.
I don’t have much experience making mousses, so while the process is incredibly simple, I definitely had a moment of panic when things weren’t as I originally imagined them. There is a point where your mousse batter is incredibly liquid, and you know you only have a certain amount of time before the gelatin really kicks in…
In the end what I did, since I don’t have any cake rings, I lined my 6″ cake pan with plastic wrap, put in my first layer of cake and firmly pressed it against the bottom of the pan before pouring in about a 1/2″ layer of the mousse. Since it was so liquid, I didn’t want to continue stacking my cake for fear that the next cake layer would sink through the mousse and cause a disaster, so I stuck the cake into the freezer for about 10 minutes to get the mousse just cold enough to support the next layer of cake. I ended up adding 4 layers of cake with 3 layers of mousse, which was the perfect amount to fit in my cake pan.
I did end up with about two cups of extra mousse, and loath to throw it out I filled one of my silicon molds with part of it and made mini parfaits with the rest of it to give to my family that evening.
After leaving my cake in the freezer overnight, I woke up and sort of randomly threw things in my kitchenaid until I reached the frosting I was dreaming of, end then spent a very enjoyable hour frosting and taking pictures of my cake.
If I made this again, I think the only thing I would change would be to add in some chopped up or whole raspberries into one or all of the layers of mousse inside the cake. I like the decorations and toppings of my cakes to really match the cake as a whole, and while the freshness and brightness of the raspberries was amazing on the outside, it was good enough that I would have liked that to be carried on into the inside of the cake.
Matcha Mousse Recipe
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons matcha
1 cup sugar
9 sheets gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1) Bloom the gelatin in cold water and drain.
2) Bring the milk to a simmer, then pour into a bowl with the sugar and matcha and mix to combine and dissolve the sugar.
3) When the sugar is dissolved, whisk in the gelatin and allow to cool to room temperature.
4) When the milk mixture is at room temperature, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks then fold into the milk mixture in three increments.
*Use immediately, before the gelatin sets up.
Honey Almond Buttercream Recipe
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons almond extract, or 5 drops Signatures Aroma Bitter Almond
1/4 cup honey
2-4 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
1) Beat the room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in one cup of powdered sugar.
2) Add in one more cup of sugar and the honey, followed by the remaining cup of powdered sugar and milk, beating for about 5 minutes to reach the desired texture.
3) Add in the salt and almond flavor and mix to combine. Use at room temperature.
Honey Castella Cake Recipe (Adapted from The Sweet Spot Cookbook)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare four 6″ cake pans.
2) Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar and honey, and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch–about 10 minutes.
4) Place the egg mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Fold in the dry ingredients gently.
5) Place about 1 cup of the batter into a bowl and whisk with the oil until homogenous. Pour this into the rest of the batter and fold to combine.
6) Divide between the cake pans and place in the oven for about 10 minutes, before turning the heat down to 300 and cooking for another 15 minutes or so. Remove and cool completely.
1) Prepare the castella cake, let cool, then cut two of the 6″ cakes in half.
2) Prepare the matcha mousse.
3) Line a 6×3″ cake pan with plastic wrap and place one layer of cake in the bottom. Add in a layer of mousse and place int he freezer for about 10 minutes before adding on the next layer of cake.
4) When all four cake layers have been used, place in the freezer overnight.
5) Remove the cake from the pan, remove the plastic wrap, and frost with the buttercream.
6) Decorate as desired–I toasted some sliced almonds and sprinkled them on the bottom and top of the cake with some fresh raspberries.
*Store in the fridge but enjoy at room temperature for the best texture of both the buttercream and the mousse!