Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake


  • By
    Rie Nakamura
  • Time
    40 minutes
Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake

Did you know that you can bake a fluffy and moist castella with just four ingredients? Not only that, but you can also make it gluten-free by using rice flour. Enjoy this delicious, allergy-free Japanese cake!


What is Castella?

Castella is a pastry made by mixing flour with eggs, milk and sugar and baking it in a steamer. Originally from the Castilian region of Spain, it is said to have been introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries. However, Japan was under a system of national seclusion from the 17th century to the mid-19th century, and trade during that period was limited to the trading post on Dejima in Nagasaki Prefecture. As a result, Nagasaki Prefecture, where Dejima is located, was heavily influenced by Portuguese architecture, culture and food. For this reason, sponge cake is also known in Japan as a specialty of Nagasaki. Fukusunaya, Bunmeido, Shououken, and Izumiya are some of the long-established historical sponge cake shops in Nagasaki.

Easy to Make with Only Four Ingredients

Castella is a very easy dessert to make. The ingredients are eggs, milk, sugar and flour. For the flour, you may want to use strong flour, which has high forming power. You can also substitute with pancake mix. To make the batter, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and blend with a mixer, then add the sugar and milk. The flour is then added a little at a time while stirring the dough. When the dough is ready, it is poured into the mold and baked. The result is a simple sponge cake with a gentle flavor.

Cook Gluten-free Fluffy Castella

with Rice FlourIn this recipe, we substitute rice flour for wheat flour. Using rice flour makes the dough fluffier, so it has a better texture. Using rice flour eliminates the need to use wheat flour, which contains gluten, so this is a perfect sweet for those who are looking for a gluten-free dessert. The flavor is also light and accommodating of any type of topping or delicious by itself.

Nutrition per Serving
  • Calories
  • Sodium
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbs
  • Cholesterol


  • Egg
  • 1.76  oz Rice flour
  • 1.41  oz Sugar
  • 0.71  oz Honey


Step 1

  • Prepare a loaf pan (7 inches / 18cm)
  • Pre-heat the oven at 356°F (180℃)
  • Prepare hot water for warming (Step2&3)
  • Place the parchment paper in a loaf pan

Step 2

Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk with a hand mixer. Add sugar and keep whisking for 3 minutes while warming the bowl with hot water. Remove from the hot water bath once the batter reaches skin temperature. Whisk until the batter becomes like in the picture. It should fall in ribbons.

Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake

Step 3

Warm the small bowl with the honey in a hot water bath, add a small amount of the batter from Step 2, and mix. Add the honey mixture to the bowl from Step 2 and whisk it.

Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake

Step 4

Sift in rice flour and continue whisking for 30 seconds with a hand mixer.

Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake

Step 5

Pour batter into the loaf pan and drop it from a height of 4 inches (10 cm) to release air bubbles. Spray water on the surface before baking it in the oven at 356°F (180℃) for 10 minutes. Continue baking at 320°F (160℃) for 20 minutes.

*Spray water over the surface of the batter, and the air bubbles on the surface will disappear and the cake will be baked moist.

Rice Flour Castella Sponge Cake

Step 6

Once done, remove the cake from the pan and let it cool. Wrap it tightly with a plastic wrap to prevent it from drying. Store in than fridge for 6 hours or more before eating. This will help the cake retain moisture.


  • You can use wheat flour instead of rice flour, but the cake will no longer be gluten-free. Please be careful if you have allergies.
  • When you add in rice flour, the batter will shrink at first, but this is normal. It will gradually become smoother.
  • The longer you cool the cake, the more moist it will become.
Registered Dietitian, Rice Flour Expert

Rie's contributions include recipe development and articles from the viewpoint of a registered dietitian in health, beauty and nutrition. In order to preserve Japanese rice culture and convey the excellence of rice foods, her work centers around rice food and rice flour recipes. Member of Emish Corporation, which produces food and creates recipes by professional dietitians and cooking experts.