Japanese Sponge Cake Recipe – Fluffy and tender castella cake is a classic baked dessert (yakimono wagashi) that is delicious without being overly sweet. Serve this jiggly cake for a lighter treat that everyone will love!

slices of Japanese sponge cake on a brown cutting board, all leaning on each other

Japanese Cake

Asian-inspired desserts are really popular right now in the United States. And it’s not hard to see why! Often these treats use interesting ingredients that are transformed with key cooking methods. So you get to experiment with fun flavors and techniques. Truly an adventurous home cook’s dream!

However, some recipes can be a bit tricky to make and even harder to find the ingredients. Japanese Castella Cake – or Wagashi Sponge Cake – is an exception…

It’s a simple dessert that is popular in Japan, Taiwan, and eastern China, and I am sure it will be a much-requested recipe in your home as well! If you don’t know how to make easy castella cake, just follow my simple instructions and you will be an expert in no time!

top down view of slices of castella cake on a brown cutting board

Traditional Wagashi Sponge Cake (Yakimono)

In Japanese, Wagashi is the general term for sweets and Yakimono refers specifically to a baked good.

This yakimono wagashi is a delicate and tasty sponge cake that is made with just a handful of ingredients. Yet the texture of castella cake is what makes it truly unique. Imagine if sandwich bread and meringue had a baby… It’s soft, tender, a bit squishy, with a lovely light honey-vanilla flavor.

This jiggly sponge cake is similar to pound cake, yet with a lighter bouncy texture. It is perfect to serve with hot tea or coffee, or to use as the base of a cake, ice cream, and fruit stack.

hand holding slice of Japanese wagashi yakimono over brown cutting board

Castella Cake Ingredients

  • Eggsroom temperature
  • Granulated sugarfor a perfectly sweet treat
  • Honeyreally rounds out the sweetness of the cake
  • Warm water not hot, or the cake won’t rise properly
  • Vanilla extractto give the Japanese sponge cake its signature light flavor
  • Saltjust a pinch
  • Cake flour essential for the best jiggly cake texture
adding eggs to a batter in a bowl with metal whisk

How to Make Castella Cake

Set out an electric stand mixer with a whip attachment. Add the room temperature eggs and sugar to the mixing bowl. Whisk on high for 6-8 minutes until the egg mixture is very light in color and extremely frothy. The egg mixture should expand to look like custard.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 315°F. Set out an 8 x 8-inch metal cake pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment comes up above the rim of the pan by at least 1 inch.

parchment paper lined baking square with box of cake flour in the background

Set out a small bowl. Mix the honey, warm water, vanilla extract, and salt.

Scrape the mixing bowl with the eggs and turn the mixer on low.

Beat in the honey mixture and then slowly add in the flour. Once all the flour is incorporated, turn off the mixer, so you don’t overbeat the cake batter.

white bowl with cake batter and spatula

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the cake on the counter once or twice to bring the biggest bubbles to the surface. But don’t tap it so much that you deflate the batter.

raw cake batter in metal square tin, using a skewer to remove bubbles

Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until the top is dark and puffy.

Get the Complete (Printable) Japanese Castella Cake Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

Carefully lift the cake out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper.

baked wagashi yakimono in a square pan
cake removed from pan, solid on top of parchment paper

Peel off the parchment paper and immediately wrap it in plastic wrap, while it is still warm. This allows all the moisture to be preserved and gives the cake a moist, even texture.

Cool to room temperature before unwrapping. However, the longer it stays wrapped the better the texture will be.

baked wagashi yakimono sponge cake wrapped in plastic wrap

Suggestions for How to Slice and Serve Wagashi

When you’re ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut all the brown edges off of the sides.

Cut the remaining square down the middle into two even loaves.

baked wagashi sponge cake cut down the center on a brown cutting board

Then slice each loaf into ½ – 1-inch pieces. Serve with tea or coffee for a snack or light dessert.

Castella cake is also a wonderfully simple cake to serve at holiday events with chocolate, caramel, or berry sauces.

Make Japanese Strawberry Shortcake by serving the cake with fresh strawberry slices and whipped cream!

top view slices of wagashi yakimono castella cake on a white cutting board

Tips & Tricks

  • It is essential to whip up the eggs with an electric mixer or stand mixer with the whip attachment to create plentiful air bubbles! This is the only way the cake will rise since there are no chemical leveners like baking soda or powder here.
  • Once you add the flour to the mix, do not over-mix the batter! This will result in a tough cake that might fall flat instead of a fluffy, jiggly Japanese sponge cake!
  • Don’t skip the resting period in the plastic wrap! I recommend letting the cakes sit in the fridge overnight wrapped in plastic, then take them out the next day and let them come back to room temperature. Then they will have the best texture possible!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this jiggly cake recipe with all-purpose flour?

Yes, you can easily make your own “cake flour” at home with AP flour and cornstarch or arrowroot powder. As-is this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of cake flour. To substitute, pour 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour into a bowl and remove 3 tablespoons of the flour. Then sift in 3 tablespoons of either cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Ta da!

Why is my Castella cake not jiggly?

The key to a great Japanese sponge cake is to make sure that the eggs are room temperature and are beaten thoroughly, until frothy. Then once the flour is added, take care to not over-mix the batter or the cake texture will be dense.

What other recipes can I make with Japanese Cotton Sponge Cake?

Use the light and tender sponge cake as a base for a trifle, dessert fruit stack, or cake pops. It can even be used as an ice cream cake base! Make it a Christmas cake with cream frosting on top and holiday sprinkles. Or make a spring and summer strawberry cake by adding 1 tsp strawberry extract to the cake batter, then topping the finished cake with fresh strawberries.

How long do leftovers last?

Castella cake will keep well for up to 5 days at room temperature, or 10 days in the refrigerator. Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap before storing. You can also freeze the wagashi! Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and then in a layer of foil. Keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Is castella cake the same as pound cake?

No, a castella cake is light and fluffy Japanese sponge cake, while a pound cake is dense. Castella cake is more like a chiffon cake!

What is the difference between Taiwanese and Japanese castella cake?

Taiwanese castella cake is more like a soufflé, and is baked in a water bath. Japanese castella cake is more like a sponge cake and less like a soufflé!

slices of castella Japanese sponge cake stacked against each other resting on a brown cutting board

Looking for More Delicious Dessert Recipes?

Print Recipe
5 stars (11 reviews)
Leave a Review »

Castella Cake (Wagashi Sponge Cake) Recipe + VIDEO

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Fluffy and tender Castella Cake is a classic baked Japanese cake (yakimono wagashi) that is delicious without being overly sweet. Serve this jiggly cake for a lighter treat that everyone will love!
Servings: 24 slices

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Set out an electric stand mixer with a whip attachment. Add the room temperature eggs and sugar to the mixing bowl. Whisk on high for 6-8 minutes until the egg mixture is very light in color and extremely frothy. The egg mixture should expand to look like custard.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 315°F. Set out an 8 x 8-inch metal pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment comes up above the rim of the pan by at least 1 inch. (The cake will rise over the lip of the pan.)
  • Set out a small bowl. Mix the honey, warm water, vanilla extract, and salt together.
  • Scrape the mixing bowl with the eggs and turn the mixer on low. Beat in the honey mixture and then slowly add in the flour. Once all the flour is incorporated, turn off the mixer, so you don’t over beat the cake batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the cake on the counter once or twice to bring the biggest bubbles to the surface. (But don’t tap it so much that you deflate the batter.) Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 45 minutes, until the top is dark and puffy.
  • Lift the cake out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper. Peel off the parchment paper and immediately wrap it in plastic wrap, while the cake is still warm. This allows all the moisture to be preserved, for a moist even texture.
  • Cool to room temperature before unwrapping. However, the longer it stays wrapped the better the texture will be. (I often make this a day ahead, so it can stay wrapped for 24 hours.)
  • When you’re ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut all the brown edges off of the sides. Cut the remaining square down the middle into two even loaves. Then slice each loaf into ½ – 1 inch pieces.

Video

Notes

Castella cake must stay well wrapped to preserve its fine moist texture. You can refrigerate it for up to 10 days, or leave it on the counter for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 88kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 65mg, Potassium: 25mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 60IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 8mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese
Author: Sommer Collier
Making this recipe?Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!

Share This Recipe With Friends!