THE IMPLODING HONEY CUSTARD CAKE
“I HAVE PROOF OF ITS ABSOLUTE TAKEOVER ON THIS SIDE OF THE PLANET… HERE SEE!”
You must think me mad. I know. I’d think the same thing if I were you, entertained in front the computer witnessing the mental meltdown of this blogger who’s rocking back and forth, murmuring about what’s obviously a tragic kitchen disaster… if only to herself. Maybe that happens sometimes… just maybe. But not this time. I know what this must look like. A melting cake? A tragically deflated sponge cake that’s foaming uncontrollably in its mouth? Oh shit it’s an epileptic cake! Go ahead, mock it, have a good one. Then I want you to quiet down, sit in a circle hand-in-hand like tiny eager pre-schoolers and braise yourself for an unexpected cake that will. Change. Your. World.
Ready? It’s Japanese.
(or, as a reader newly pointed out, Portuguese as well)
While the world is sidetracked by other louder occupations taking places… say that crazy pudding over that peninsula, or cronuts over New York, the eastern part of Asia is quietly under some kind of Japanese invasion. Only this time, a completely voluntary surrender. They call it the concave kasutera (custard) and it’s swarming this land unchallenged. You’d think how is that possible? A sensible region going wild over an imploding sponge cake so deformed beyond help? Have we no senses? But, seriously! I’m not lying it’s everywhere! I have proof of its absolute takeover on this side of the planet! Here, see! Everywhere! And if you think that it’s nothing but an undercooked sponge cake, you are absolutely right! A testimony that greatness can be achieved purely by saying, SO WHAT? A sponge cake that is so almost-flourless and airy that it implodes the second it comes out of the oven. SO WHAT? Better yet, let’s even push it more gloriously wrong by under-cooking the hell out of it so it stays runny in the center. Yeah, SO WHAT? It breaks rules but it definitely isn’t wrong.
Think this cake is like those people who said fuck Harvard then went on to make billions…
Or… so I’ve heard. Ultimately, legends are just legends. Is it really all that? After running into it left and right for about a year now, I finally decided to conduct my own test. My question is this. Pure and simple. Can it achieve beyond the perceivable expectation of a simple sponge cake?
Answer, is yes.
How much? In the most direct and relatable way that I know how, I’ll explain by saying this. I hate pimples.
I hate pimples so much, I’d willingly stay in this hell-hole for another
four three two years if it means I can have the next few years pimple-free. I hate pimples so much, that when I was told like some kind of sick joke that my body is “intolerant” to eggs – one of my most beloved things to eat – in a way that it grows pimples on my even-more-beloved face, I stopped touching eggs cold turkey-style. Stopped. Stone cold. Cock-blocked! For threeee years now, I haven’t had anything more than a lick off of the yolk stains on Jason’s fork. Threeee years. That’s how much I hate pimples. Nothing tastes as great as pimple hurts.
But the day I made these eggs-exuberant cakes (yes, “these”. I made four!), I found myself limping by the slippery cliff of the kitchen counter, stuffing my allergic face with this eggs and honey-explosion like it’s no pimple’s business. I first thought I’d have one bite… then ok maybe another… then my brain and body disconnected. And then it was too late. Do I regret it? Well yeah sort of, I’ll be honest. I now stand here talking to you a lot less prettier than a few days ago. But would I do it again? Fuck yeah. You see what I mean?
And it’s easy. Sooo EASY. Ridiculously straight-forward with absurdly few ingredients that assembles in under 30 minutes! Its entire existence is so brainlessly simple but remarkably delicious, that it’s practically an insult to the other cakes that are making noises about butter and creaming-till-death-do-us-apart… then more buttermilk… and then more buttered cream! NO! None of that stuff! No butter whatsoever in fact, it’s almost a three-ingredients-cake that sauces itself, and at this point you say pffff~ what’s the big deal it’s a lava cake.
No, no it isn’t!
It’s impossibly light and weightless. Instead of a thick river of slow-moving lava from the sinful fallen-world (which I have no problem with), this cake has the incredibly airy texture of whipped milk… from a sleeping… angelic… cow. You know what I mean. The surrounding edges and bottom of the cake is a sponge-like cradle, holding up a middle layer of gooey and thick honey custard with a gradually thinning and runny basin of sweet foam in the center. It’s so soft, a lightest touch of a finger will make a dent, and it goes down like a whiff of air. The only left-behind trace of you ever encountering it, is the lingering flower-essence of the honey, and aroma of sweet eggs on your taste buds.
I know you have all the ingredients and 30 minutes. Even the least stocked pantry has these ingredients, and the most important life could use a 30 min-pause. Make it. You’ll see what I mean.
Makes: One 6″ cake
The flavour of the cake is as good as the quality of the eggs and honey that you use (well, eggs and honey being almost the only 2 ingredients in it…). So none of that bear-bottle stuff, please. Use a pure, floral, dark and fragrant honey that tastes and smells like the flowers it came from. The honey itself will provide enough sweetness for a mildly sweet cake, but for people who wants more sweetness, the optional powdered sugar will do the job. Besides good quality, it’s also important to use room-temperature eggs. The batter should be slightly warm, not cold, before going into the oven. Then, last but not least, even though the flour may seem to take insignificant ratio in the batter, it’s well advised to use cake/low-protein flour VS all-purpose. In my experience, it takes some considerable whisking in order to completely incorporate the flour into the batter without any lumps, and you don’t want the excess gluten in all-purpose flour to ruin the party.
The batter will make a taller 6″ cake, or a shallower 7″ cake. I haven’t tried using rectangular loaf-pan but perhaps that’ll work, too. Whatever pan you’re using, the key to success is: butter and flour the interior of the pan really really, really well. Because this cake’ll stick. It’ll even stick to parchment paper! So if you want to lay a circle-sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the cake-pan for easy transferring (like I did), butter and flour that parchment as well!
Ingredients: adapted from many recipes combined
- 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tbsp (16 grams) of powdered sugar, optional
- 1/4 cup (87 grams) of high-quality honey
- 4 1/2 tbsp (35 grams) of cake flour
Preheat the oven on 355ºF/180ºC.
In a stand-mixer bowl with a whisk-attachment (or large bowl with handheld mixer), whisk large egg yolks, large eggs and powdered sugar (optional) just until combined, then pause. Heat up honey in a pot over medium-low heat until it starts to simmer, then continue to let it bubble and simmer for 2 minutes (to heat up the custard and also to reduce the moisture-level slightly). Turn the stand-mixer back on medium-high speed, then slowly pour the hot honey from the side of the bowl into the eggs with the machine running. Keep whisking the eggs and honey mixture on medium-high speed until the it becomes pale and thick, almost doubled in size. The correct texture of the batter is important. You should whisk just until the batter starts to leave obvious “ribbons” behind the whisk. Now, tap the bowl on the counter and use a spatula to fold the batter a few times to get rid of large air-bubbles. Sift the cake flour right into the bowl, then whisk on low-speed until the flour is completely and smoothly incorporated (scrape the bottom of the bowl if need be).
Butter and flour the interior of the cake-pan then dust off excess flour. Pour the batter into the pan, then gently tap it a few times again to eliminate large air-bubbles. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 15 ~ 16 min. Even 1 minute will make a big difference (as some people like it runnier than others, see below)! And since every oven is sort of different, you’ll need to judge the baking-time accordingly. How I check is I gently shake the pan, and the center of the cake should wobble! If it doesn’t, it’s already over-baked.
Let the cake cool inside the pan on a cooling-rack for at least 30 min. The cake will be puffy at first then of course it’ll deflate. Good. As it should.
This cake is great while it’s slightly warm, or at room-temperature, or believe it, even when it’s cold (perhaps better…)! Oh God I’m gonna another pimple…