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

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  • LJonthebay
    I ve been playing with a recipe I found in Eric Rath s Food and Fantasy In Premodern Japan over the past few weeks.
    Message 1 of 10 , 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.

      http://tousando.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=food&thread=4023&page=1

      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
    • Jane Bettencourt
      Portuguese sweet bread dates back much further in Portugal. But also think they may have used what we call small eggs because that is all they had. Sent from
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 26, 2012
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        Portuguese sweet bread dates back much further in Portugal. But also think they may have used what we call small eggs because that is all they had.

        Sent from my iPhone
      • LJonthebay
        ... Clearly. Rath cites a source mentioning the selling of kasutera in Japan that is a full 50 years earlier than the recipe in the Nanban Ryori. I would love
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 26, 2012
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          --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, Jane Bettencourt <sealynn@...> wrote:
          >
          > Portuguese sweet bread dates back much further in Portugal.

          Clearly. Rath cites a source mentioning the selling of kasutera in Japan that is a full 50 years earlier than the recipe in the Nanban Ryori. I would love to find a period Portuguese source to see if there are any variations.

          > But also think they may have used what we call small eggs because that is all they had.

          Modern eggs sold to stores are sorted for uniformity of size. When a friend used to bring me eggs from his chickens, I'd get a dozen that were a gamut of sizes (and colors - the pale green ones were quite pretty). I realized my error as I mixed the first batch two weeks ago. Six Grade A Large eggs* came a lot closer to producing a dough-like consistency.

          *This is the smallest size my local market sells.

          Saionji Shonagon
          West Kingdom
        • Michelle Touketto
          Thank you for sharing! I love culinary things to try out! Gwenhwyvar -- All knowledge is worth having. Anafiel Delaunay, Kushiel s Dart. [Non-text portions
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 26, 2012
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            Thank you for sharing! I love culinary things to try out!

            Gwenhwyvar

            --
            "All knowledge is worth having." Anafiel Delaunay, Kushiel's Dart.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • SeanM
            ... From a little rummaging around the Net, it appears that it s _supposed_ to be a batter; it s one of the many variations on sponge cake (or pound cake),
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 27, 2012
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              --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, "LJonthebay" <wodeford@...> wrote:
              > 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.

              From a little rummaging around the Net, it appears that it's _supposed_ to be a batter; it's one of the many variations on sponge cake (or pound cake), which depend for their rise on the expansion of the air trapped in the batter. Most of the castela recipes specify that the eggs should be beaten until very light (some sponge cake recipes separate the eggs and beat the whites to soft peaks to get more air into the batter).
            • elwenaduialloth
              The last time I was in Nagasaki, my co-workers bought me some castela as an omiyage. The texture was soft and cakey, though a bit drier than most Western
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 27, 2012
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                The last time I was in Nagasaki, my co-workers bought me some castela as an omiyage. The texture was soft and cakey, though a bit drier than most Western cakes tend to be. Think a slightly dry and more airy angel food or pound cake and you've got the right idea. I don't know, however, whether the texture of modern castela resembles the texture of the period version or not.

                --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, "SeanM" <srmalloy@...> wrote:
                >
                > --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, "LJonthebay" <wodeford@> wrote:
                > > 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.
                >
                > From a little rummaging around the Net, it appears that it's _supposed_ to be a batter; it's one of the many variations on sponge cake (or pound cake), which depend for their rise on the expansion of the air trapped in the batter. Most of the castela recipes specify that the eggs should be beaten until very light (some sponge cake recipes separate the eggs and beat the whites to soft peaks to get more air into the batter).
                >
              • LJonthebay
                ... Modern kasutera yes. The recipe cited above is in a document dated 1641 CE. No milk, no honey, no fancy shmancy whisking. ;-D Both batches vanished
                Message 7 of 10 , Apr 1 11:39 PM
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                  --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, "SeanM" <srmalloy@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, "LJonthebay" <wodeford@> wrote:
                  > > 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.

                  > From a little rummaging around the Net, it appears that it's _supposed_ to be a batter; it's one of the many variations on sponge cake (or pound cake), which depend for their rise on the expansion of the air trapped in the batter.

                  Modern kasutera yes. The recipe cited above is in a document dated 1641 CE. No milk, no honey, no fancy shmancy whisking. ;-D Both batches vanished mysteriously into hungry faces at Estrella War with no complaints.

                  Saionji Shonagon
                  West Kingdom
                • LJonthebay
                  Looks like nobody s looked at my original thread on the Tousando about this, so I m posting it again. (It includes description of modern kasutera, etc.)
                  Message 8 of 10 , Apr 2 8:09 AM
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                    Looks like nobody's looked at my original thread on the Tousando about this, so I'm posting it again. (It includes description of modern kasutera, etc.)

                    http://tousando.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=food&thread=4023&page=1

                    Batches 2(made with 7 eggs) and 3 (6 eggs) were cheerfully consumed at Estrella War this week. In a discussion with one of my victims, we conjectured that the consistency would have worked well for a ship bread, which makes a great deal of sense when one thinks about how many months a voyage from Portugal to the Far East took. After a couple of days in a zip-lock bag in the Arizona desert (a climate FAR drier than Japan ever gets), the texture somewhat resembled biscotti.

                    Saionji Shonagon, sugaring up the Known World for at least a week.
                    West Kingdom
                  • Solveig Throndardottir
                    Noble Cousin! Greetings from Solveig! ... The fancy whisking could be in the oral instructions. Given a culture of knife ceremonies, fancy whisking would not
                    Message 9 of 10 , Apr 2 8:11 AM
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                      Noble Cousin!

                      Greetings from Solveig!
                      > Modern kasutera yes. The recipe cited above is in a document dated 1641 CE. No milk, no honey, no fancy shmancy whisking. ;-D Both batches vanished mysteriously into hungry faces at Estrella War with no complaints.
                      The fancy whisking could be in the oral instructions. Given a culture of knife ceremonies, fancy whisking would not be surprising.

                      Your Humble Servant
                      Solveig Throndardottir
                      Amateur Scholar



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • LJonthebay
                      ... Rath describes this as a flat, pancake-like bread. Whisking aerates the eggs and to my mind, makes sense for a cake batter, less for a bread dough. I fully
                      Message 10 of 10 , Apr 2 8:19 AM
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                        --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, Solveig Throndardottir <nostrand@...> wrote:

                        > The fancy whisking could be in the oral instructions. Given a culture of knife ceremonies, fancy whisking would not be surprising.

                        Rath describes this as a flat, pancake-like bread. Whisking aerates the eggs and to my mind, makes sense for a cake batter, less for a bread dough.

                        I fully intend to pester one of our cooking Laurels if I see her this weekend because I would LOVE to find a Portuguese or Spanish source for comparison.

                        Saionji Shonagon
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