Castella cakes, or sponge cakes made of eggs, flour, sugar and starch syrup, were first introduced by the Portuguese to Nagasaki, Japan in the 16th century.

While the Japanese versions—typically made with eggs, flour, sugar and honey— have been available on our shores, recent viral online videos of giant castella cakes from Taiwan have reignited a craze for them. Here are a few of these cakes selling like…well, hot cakes.

Le Castella

Four months since its opening in Singapore at Tampines 1, the queues at Le Castella now only last approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Hailing from Shilin Night Market in Taipei, Le Castella cakes were featured in the said viral videos, and come in three flavours: original, cheese and a soon to-be launched chocolate (from $9.90).

Le Castella's original flavoured cake

Le Castella’s original flavoured cake

Around 58 eggs are used to make each batch of cake, which is then cut into 10 loaves approximately 23x13cm in size. Made with eggs, milk, flour and sugar, the cakes are baked at a constant temperature for about 80 to 90 minutes, and emerge extremely spongy and moist to the bite. We recommend the cheese version, which adds a salty, savoury hit to the cake, and gives it a bit of body. They can be kept for up to three days in the refrigerator but is best consumed right out of the oven.

#B1-32 Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1. 

Ah Ma Homemade Cake

Malaysian brand Ah Ma has been making inroads into Singapore with their castella cake, opening a third outlet at JCube on National Day. A fourth opens in Paya Lebar at the end of August, and others are slated for Plaza Singapura and Bedok in October.

The castella cheese cake from Ah Ma Homemade Cake

The castella cheese cake from Ah Ma Homemade Cake

Inspired by castella cakes from Tamsui Old Street in Tapei, the cakes come in two flavours: original and cheese (from $8). We found the cakes to be light, airy, spongy, but a tad denser and sweeter than those by Le Castella.

#01-08 Bukit Panjang Plaza, 1 Jelebu Road. Tel: 97694380; #B2-K7 Vivo City, 1 Harbourfront Walk ; No.2 Jurong East Central 1, #B1-K12 JCube

Antoinette

Trust chef Pang Kok Keong of Antoinette to spin off not one, but six flavours out of a trending cake. The Queen’s Castella Cake Collection (from $8 for each block of about 20x10cm) comes in six options: vanilla, vanilla with cheddar and parmesan cheese glaze, vanilla with Nutella glaze, earl grey, earl grey with cheddar and parmesan cheese glaze, and ondeh ondeh.

Antoinette's The Queen Castella collection, featuring flavours like: earl grey with cheddar and parmesan cheese glaze, vanilla with cheddar and parmesan cheese glaze, earl grey, vanilla with Nutella glaze, ondeh ondeh and vanilla.

Antoinette’s The Queen Castella collection

Chef Pang’s technique is to lift the cakes purely by meringue and bake them in a bain marie until they are delicate, light and fluffy. Our favourite was earl grey, for the intense yet unobtrusive aroma of tea. The cakes had a uniform texture, akin to a pandan chiffon cake. Orders can be placed a day in advance (before 3pm) if you require at least six pieces.

30 Penhas Road. Tel: 6293 3121; #02-33/34 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road. Tel: 6836 9527

Breadtalk

Called the ‘pong pong cake’ because of its light and bouncy texture, this castella cake ($8.80) is made with a special recipe by chef Tseng Wen Jun—a winner at the 16th Taiwan Gateaux Cake Competition held in April—and R&D chef Yeo Xian Wei.

Breadtalk's Pong Pong cake with salted egg yolk

Breadtalk’s Pong Pong cake with salted egg yolk

Take a mouthful and you feel like you’re biting into spongy, airy, moist egg whites or even a thick mousse. While it is laced with salted egg yolk, its flavour is somewhat faint.

Available at Breadtalk’s Chinatown Point, Novena Square, Toa Payoh Hub and Westgate outlets, and The Icing Room’s Nex and Jurong Point outlets.  

Original Cake

Original Cake, a brand which started life in 2010 on Taipei’s Tamsui Old Street, will be opening a branch at Westgate Mall by early September. It already has several outlets across Taiwan and Malaysia, including one in Johor Bahru’s City Square.

The spurted chocolate castella cake from Original Cakes

The spurted chocolate castella cake from Original Cakes

Made with basic ingredients of eggs, sugar, flour and vegetable oil, Original Cake comes in three flavours for a start: original, golden cheese and frozen chocolate.

#02-04 Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive. 


This was first published in Wine & Dine’s September 2017 issue – Singapore’s Top Restaurants Issue, ‘Trending’

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