This delicious honey cake was brought to Nagasaki by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and traces its origins back to Portugal’s paõ de Castela. Its light, fragrant sweetness is best enjoyed with a black coffee or tea.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 6 eggs
  • 200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 20 ml (¾ fl oz) milk
  • 40 g (1½ oz) honey
  • 200 g (7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: overnight

Standing time: 35 minutes

This recipe needs to be started 1 day in advance.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line the bottom and sides of a 23 cm × 11 cm (9 in × 4.5 in) loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat. In a bowl large enough to sit on top of the mouth of the saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar together.
  3. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water’s surface. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick, pale in colour and creamy, approximately 10–15 minutes; this step is easier with a handheld blender. If the mixture appears to be scrambling before it is thick, pale and creamy, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until doubled in volume.
  4. When the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and whisk in the milk and half of the honey. Sift in the flour and fold it through with a spatula.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, level out the top with a spatula and bang the tin on the counter to smooth out the surface. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow it to cool in its tin for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the remaining honey with 2 tablespoons water to create a syrup. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out, remove the baking paper and brush the top liberally with the honey syrup.
  7. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and leave on a flat surface for 10 minutes to allow the syrup to soak through to the bottom of the cake. After 10 minutes, turn the cake over again to allow the syrup that has pooled at the bottom to be reabsorbed into the cake. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. The next day, trim off the sides and ends of the cake to make it look like the ones in the department stores, and cut into slices to serve. The cake will keep for 3 days wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.


Recipe from Tokyo Local by Caryn Liew and Brendan Liew, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99