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28207Kasutera/Castela - a Portuguese sweet bread from 16th c. Japan

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  • LJonthebay
    Mar 25, 2012
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      I've been playing with a recipe I found in Eric Rath's Food and Fantasy In Premodern Japan over the past few weeks.


      Rath's translation is of a recipe for kasutera (Pao de Castela or Bread from Castile) that dates to 1641, however, the treat was known during our period.

      "Knead together 10 eggs, 160 momme (600 grams or 2.5 cups*) of sugar and 160 momme of wheat flour. Spread paper in a pot and sprinkle it with flour. Place the dough on top of this. Place a heat source above and below to cook. There are oral instructions." from the Nanban Ryorisho or Southern Barbarian's Cookbook, which dates from 1641.

      The first batch from a couple weeks ago used ten modern Grade A large eggs, 2.5 cups Gold Medal all purpose flour and 2.5 cups granulated sugar. This produced a wet, yellow batter that baked thoroughly at 350 degrees in about 30 minutes in a pan lined with parchment paper. Baked, it looked a lot like corn bread and was much more cake-like than it probably should have been. It tasted pleasantly sweet and a little eggy and had a slightly spongy texture 24 hours later.

      Today I baked two batches, one using seven eggs, one using six. The six-egg batch actually produced dough instead of batter, required a slightly longer baking time before my testing skewer came away clean, and only rose about an inch. The flavor is about the same and the consistency is dense, chewy and a bit more bread-like.

      I'll be adding this baby to my website shortly.

      Saionji Shonagon
      West Kingdom
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