Sunday, 22 September 2013

Mia's Recipe: Maccha Marble Castella Cupcakes

Oh yes, it's Sunday again. Which means, baking time! :)
This time, I've decided to give kasutera (AKA Castella) a go, a honey flavoured sponge cake from Nagasaki, Japan. I've also decided to give it a twist and add some Maccha flavour to it and give it some marbling details (even though I kinda failed at that). 
Nevertheless, let's get down to the ingredients we'll need. 

We will need:
1. Eggs at room temperature (very important) - 3 Nos.
2. Caster sugar - 90g
3. Flour (Preferably Bread flour, if not, AP Flour) - 90g
4. Milk - 2 Tbsp. (30 ml)
5. Honey - 1 Tbsp. (15ml)
6. Green Tea powder - 1 Tbsp. (or up to personal preference)
7. Honey glaze (Some honey dissolved in water)

Very simple, right? I bet many of you have all the necessary ingredients lying in your kitchen already! :) This recipe should give you 10 to 12 cupcakes (I got 11). So let's get down to the procedures. 

First, pre-heat your oven to 160 degree Celsius. 

Warm up your milk and dissolve the honey and set them aside. You can do so in a pot over heat or just a simple double boiler (immersing the bowl of milk and honey in a bowl of boiling water). 

Sift your flour 2 to 3 times (I did mine thrice) and set them aside. You can choose to sift once or twice first, then sifting the final time directly into the wet mixture later on. 

Next up, crack your eggs into a large bowl and whisk them until frothy. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, and make sure your bowl is large enough. The end product of the beaten eggs can be 4x the volume and if your bowl isn't big enough it'll be really hard folding in the dry ingredients. 

Heat up a pot of water until it boils. The pot should be big/small enough for your bowl to sit inside snugly and the water level shouldn't be touching the base of your bowl. This will be your double boiler.

Add in the sugar, bit by bit (I did so in 3 additions) and continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture turns pale yellow and frothy. Then, add in the honey milk mixture and sit the bowl over the double boiler and continue whisking at high speed until soft peaks form. The point of heating the egg mixture is to allow it to form stable peaks, so do not try to skip the double boiler. The reason why heat is required is because unlike pure egg white mixture, the presence of yolk acts as an emulsifier and it'll be tough to beat the mixture until stable peaks form. Brace your arm and whisk away, I did mine with my hand-held mixer for about 15 minutes at least, in total. 

Add (or sift, if you haven't completed 2/3 times) in the flour and fold the mixture until well combined. Do not stir or overmix as it'll deflate the peaks too much and you might end up with dense, bread like cakes. Remember, there's no butter in this recipe and all the fluffiness is going to depend on the meringue you've beaten up.

Add 1 tbsp. of hot water to the green tea powder and stir to dissolve. 

Separate out 1/3 of the egg/flour mixture into a smaller bowl and add in the green tea mixture. Fold well until fully combined. 

Line your muffin tin or sillicon cups with cupcake liners and spoon the mixtures in tbsp by tbsp to create the layered effect. For lazy people (like me) you can choose to do a maccha surprise centre castella cupcake too, by just adding a dollop of the maccha batter into the centre. 

When all liners are filled up, insert a skewer stick and run it around to get ride of any air pockets within. It can also help to give your layers a pretty marbling effect. Tap the tin/cups on the table for a few times to let the bubbles rise and send them to bake at 160 degree Celsius for the first 5 minutes, before turning down the heat to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes. 
Do tweak either the baking time or the baking temperature depending on your cupcake sizes and oven specifications. I find that my cupcakes are slightly overbaked (lost quite a bit of the distinctive moistness of a castella cake) and I might try 140 degree Celsius the next time I make them, instead of 150 degree Celsius. 

The idea of baking them first with higher temperature is to allow the top to brown first before finishing up with the rest of the baking process. However, if you find that your top has gone too brown and your cake isn't fully baked yet, cover the top with some parchment paper and continue to let them bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Once out of the oven, glaze the top of each cupcakes with some honey glaze for more flavour. 

Lay your cupcakes out on a wire rack to cool until they're warm enough to handle. Then, wrap them up with cling wrap and let them cool down completely in the refrigerator, preferbaly overnight or at least for 2 hours. This helps the flavour to set while the cake cools. 

And that's how my castella cupcakes turned out, rather spongy with a springy bite, and with strong sweet honey taste and a slight hint of green tea fragrance. I could have doubled my portion of green tea for stronger maccha taste, so if you're planning to try this out, do take note. :)

Till then,


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