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Castella (カステラ, kasutera) is a kind of wagashi (a Japanese traditional confectionery) originally developed in Japan based on the "Nanban confectionery" (confectionery imported from abroad to Japan during the Azuchi–Momoyama period). The batter is poured into large square or rectangular molds, baked in an oven and cut into long rectangular shapes. Since the recipe calls for mizuame, a type of sugar syrup, Castella has a moist texture.
|Place of origin||Japan|
|Main ingredients||Flour, sugar, eggs, mizuame|
Now a specialty of Nagasaki, the cake was brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. The name is derived from Portuguese Pão de Castela, meaning "bread from Castile". Castella cake is usually sold in long boxes, with the cake inside being approximately 27 cm long. It is somewhat similar to Madeira cake, also associated with Portugal, but its closest relative is pão-de-ló, also a Portuguese cake.
There are similar types of sponge cakes named after the same fashion, in French: Pain d'Espagne, in Italian: Pan di Spagna, in Portuguese: Pão d’Espanha, in Romanian: Pandișpan, in Bulgarian: пандишпан, in Greek: Παντεσπάνι, in Turkish: Pandispanya. (Castile was a former kingdom of Spain, comprising its north-central provinces, thus Pain d'Espagne and other variants are quasi-synonymous to "bread from Castile"). A similar cake, called taisan (meaning sharpening stone in Kapampangan), is a traditional dessert in Pampanga province in the Philippines.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese reached Japan and soon started trade and missionary work. Nagasaki was then the only Japanese port open for foreign commerce. The Portuguese introduced many then-unusual things, such as guns, tobacco, and pumpkins. The cake could be stored for a long time, and so was useful for the sailors who were out on the sea for months. In the Edo period, in part due to the cost of sugar, castella was an expensive dessert to make despite the ingredients sold by the Portuguese. When the Emperor of Japan's envoy was invited, the Tokugawa shogunate presented the Castella. Over the years, the taste changed to suit Japanese palates.
There are now many varieties made with ingredients such as powdered green tea, brown sugar, and honey. They may be molded in various shapes; a popular Japanese festival food is baby castella, a bite-sized version.
Castella were first introduced to Taiwan during the age of Taiwan under Japanese rule. In 1968, Ye Yongqing, the owner of a Japanese bakery in Taipei named Nanbanto, partnered with the Japanese company Nagasaki Honpu to establish a castella business.
Taiwanese style castella is generally more soufflé-like than the Japanese variety with a custard like center. A speciality of Tamsui is a simple pillow shaped castella cake. Taiwanese style castella has been introduced into Japan.
- Bunmeidou History of Castella  Archived June 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "The old-timey treat that's back in style thanks to Hayao Miyazaki". RocketNews24. 2013-09-08. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
- Official site of Nanbanto. 2018.
- St. Michel, Patrick. "Harajuku's latest dessert trend? Taiwanese castella cake". www.japantimes.co.jp. Japan Times. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- Yang, Sophia. "Taiwan's Castella named next darling in Japan". www.taiwannews.com.tw. Taiwan News. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
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