The finest-quality kasutera, gifted to the king of Spain and exclusive to Ginza
Ginza Bunmeido Tenka Bunmei Gokujo Castella ¥6,300
Western cake that evolved into a Japanese delicacy over 450 years
One theory is that the cake that became the prototype for the kasutera (castella) Madeira cake appeared in Spain in the third century BC, its delectable sweetness an essential part of any auspicious occasion. Hundreds of years later, castella was brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries near
the end of the Muromachi period. The recipe of this imported confection was subsequently tweaked over time to suit the Japanese palate, eventually evolving into the cake we know today.
It was the Ginza Bunmeido company, established in 1900, that elevated the production of castella to a fine art.
The eggs that are used to make castella vary individually, so that even if the batter is baked at the same temperature for the same length of time, the finished result can differ considerably. For this reason, the staff at Ginza Bunmeido think of castella as a living thing, with the bakers identifying subtle variations in the batter each day to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly, baking each tin individually.
The culmination of this sophisticated approach to the production of castella is Ginza Bunmeido’s “Tenka Bunmei Gokujo Castella”, developed over many years by Koshiro Mori, the firm’s senior technical advisor.
The recipe uses ingredients selected via an exhaustive process of trial and error. The eggs, which are the lifeblood of any castella, are fertilized eggs from “Hotaru no sato” in Tochigi Prefecture, with about thirty percent more yolks used than in ordinary castella. Handmade fine-grain wasanbon sugar, a specialty from Awa in Shikoku, gives the cake a pervading sweetness, with Cotswold honey from the UK adding a final flavorsome note.
Also noteworthy are the artisan confectioners who make this very special castella. Only a select few among the dozens of experienced bakers at Ginza Bunmeido are permitted to bake Tenka Bunmei Gokujo Castella.
This limits production runs to just twice a week. Each block of castella is stamped with the seal of the person who made it, a mark of their absolute confidence in their technical skills and the cake’s flavor.
A gift of Tenka Bunmei Gokujo Castella was apparently made to King Juan Carlos I of Spain when he visited Japan in 2008. One can only speculate what His Majesty thought of the way this venerable Spanish/Portuguese treat has evolved.
Take a bite and feel the subtle bouquet and refined sweetness flood your taste buds in a moment of pure joy. The sturdy Paulownia wood box the cake is packaged in makes it even more distinctive.
This is a perfect, carefully crafted gift or souvenir for that special someone.
Ginza 5-chome store 1F Nakamura Sekizen-kai Bldg., 5-7-10 Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Photos/Susumu Nagao Text/Kumi Yamamoto