This cake defies sponge logic – strong bread flour gives it a "bouncy" texture, but it's still particularly moist and delicate, and becomes more so with time. Don’t be tempted to eat it straight from the oven (believe me, the heavenly honey aromas will tempt you!) – it needs to be wrapped while still warm and kept in the fridge overnight for its texture to be transformed.
A specialty of the Nagasaki area, this wonderfully simple, honey-scented sponge cake was originally introduced by the Portuguese merchants in the 16th century, with its name originating from Pão de Castela meaning "bread from Castile".
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 115 g (⅓ cup) honey
- 2 tbsp warm water
- 200 g (1¼ cups) bread flour, sifted twice
- butter and extra honey, to serve
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp warm water
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.
Makes 2 loaves
Chilling time overnight
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 9 x 19 cm (base measurement) loaf pans with butter and line each with 2 strips of baking paper.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and whisk on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is very thick and pale, has increased by 4 times its volume, and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.
Add the combined honey and water, and whisk until just combined.
Add a third of the twice-sifted bread flour to the egg mixture and whisk on low speed for about 15 seconds or until just combined. Add the remaining flour, in 2 separate batches, whisking on low until just combined as with the first batch, and checking that no flour has been caught in the bottom of the bowl.
Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 prepared tins. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the cakes feel spongy when pressed in the centre.
To make the honey glaze, combine the honey and water in a small bowl and stir to combine. Brush the tops of the cakes with the honey glaze. Lay 2 pieces of plastic wrap, large enough to wrap each cake, on the benchtop and turn the hot cakes out directly onto them. Wrap the cakes in the plastic wrap (this will help them retain their moisture), place on a tray, top-side down, and put in the fridge, for at least 12 hours or overnight.
Bring the cake to room temperature before serving in slices on its own or with butter and extra honey, if desired.
• This cake will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Sponge cake.