Food For Now: Isetan debuts famed Fukusaya Castella cake in Singapore
Isetan Singapore is bringing in Japan’s beloved Fukusaya Castella to Singapore. The brand, a renowned, 400-year old company from Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan, will make its debut in Singapore on 20th August 2021 at Isetan Scotts Supermarket.
While Castella cakes have their origin as Japanese wagashi snacks, the name instead is taken from the Portuguese language, when merchants would stop by the trading port in Nagasaki towards the end of the warring era. The name of the cake was called Pão de Lo in Portugal, but when the Japanese asked what it was, the answer was “Pão de Castela” which means “bread from Castille”; an old kingdom that belonged to Spain. The Japanese then further developed and refined the recipe to the way it is today and the cake became very popular. However due to the high cost of sugar back then, it was seen as an expensive, if not a luxury item to have.
One might be surprised then, to learn that Castella cake is made of just flour, sugar, and eggs. Unlike its Taiwanese counterpart, which is soft and jiggly, the Japanese Castella is instead denser and more structured due to the way the batter is mixed. It does not contain any oil or dairy and is baked with Zarame sugar (crystalized sugar), which lends it moisture, sweetness and texture.
The Nagasaki Castella, in particular, has a crisp texture at the bottom crust, which gives it a slightly gritty sensation. This comes from the finely ground sugar crystals. When the ingredients are mixed, the sugar crystals are rubbed off and blended into the batter, making it soft and moist. Some of the sugar sinks to the bottom and remains there and that adds crunchy texture, contributing to the rich sweetness and a nostalgic flavour.
Fukusaya Castella was founded in the first year of the Kan’ei period (1624), and have dedicated themselves to making and selling one signature item and nothing else – the Japanese Castella. Fukusaya’s success lies in carefully selected ingredients and in their specially recruited pastry chef’s undying passion and hand technique that has been acquired over years of experience. The cake is made with the constant care and attention from one dedicated pastry chef who would see through the entire process; from the separation of eggs, to whipping the meringue, mixing, folding, pouring of the batter, and eventually baking.
Fukusaya has consistently preserved this tradition of using the handmade method, and constantly adjusting the technique in accordance to temperature and humidity, for 397 years. It is this dedication and time-honoured process that gives Fukusaya’s Castella its unique texture, and full-bodied flavour. Now, the company has finally decided to venture overseas, and take this opportunity of low travel to promote their cakes, giving foreigners a taste of Japan. Singapore is its second overseas expansion after Taiwan.
“We are honoured to be the first in Singapore to sell Castella baked in the same way as we have been doing since our establishment in 1624,” says Teizo Tonomura, Executive Vice President of Fukusaya. “Furthermore, I would like Singaporeans who are celebrating the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan this year (SJ55) to be able to experience the traditional culture of Japan more. I hope that Singaporeans will enjoy our cakes that are filled with the history of Fukusaya and our commitment to quality, handmade Castella cakes.”
Fukusaya’s Castella will be available at Isetan Supermarket, for SGD$25.90 a box, from 20th August 2021 onwards. To maintain its freshness, the cake comes as a pre-packaged chilled product which is best consumed after letting it come to room temperature for about an hour.
To celebrate its Singapore debut, Isetan and Japan Creative Centre, Embassy of Japan will co-organise a Facebook Live event in cooperation with JNTO and Spoonful on Friday, 20th August, at 12pm. The hour-long session will introduce the history of castella cake and the characteristics of Castella. The various different kinds of Castella from the Kyushu region, including Fukusaya Castella, will also be featured. It will also include a short cooking demonstration video of home-made Castella.
The Fukusaya Castella Cake launches at Isetan Scotts Supermarket at SGD$25.90 a box, from 20th August 2021. The first 100 customers who purchase a box of Fukusaya Castella will receive a SJ55 hand sanitizer* by JNTO. (*while stocks last)
On 20th August 20 2021, 12pm, there will be a Facebook Live broadcast from Japan Creative
Center (JCC). Viewers will stand a chance to win a JNTO power charger (1 winner), a JNTO Tote
Bag (1 winner) and a box of Fukusaya Castella cake (2 winners).