lemon castella cake

Lemon Castella Cake with Coconut Lime Cashew Panna Cotta

Pastry & Baking Arts student Brianna Farrell won this week's market basket challenge with sweet creativity.

Each week that our campuses are closed, we host a virtual market basket challenge on Instagram. With this week's pastry-focused ingredient list, Brianna made the Japanese sponge cake called Castella, a vegan panna cotta with agar agar and substituted cashew cream for heavy cream.

I was surprised to find that the market basket challenge was geared toward pastry arts last week. I actually didn’t find out about the challenge until after I had gotten back from the food store, so I developed a dish using only the ingredients that I had on hand at my house.

I had been planning on making a honey Castella cake for my family so I decided to start with that cake as the base of my recipe, just adding lemon to the cake to change the focus because I knew the lemon flavor was complemented well by honey. I really wanted to use the coconut and lime flavors together and figured a panna cotta would be the best way to add these flavors to the plate without taking away from the cake.

I wanted to incorporate the cashews into the dish and since I did not have heavy cream or gelatin on hand, I created a cashew cream to use as the base of the panna cotta and agar agar to set it. I finished the dish with a blueberry coulis and a blueberry sweet cashew cream, to really add another dimension of flavor, and toasted coconut and graham cracker crumb for a level of texture to the final product.


Lemon Castella Cake with Coconut Lime Cashew Panna Cotta, Blueberry Coulis, Blueberry Sweet Cashew Cream, Toasted Coconut, Graham Cracker Crumb and Lemon Basil

Yields 1 serving

Lemon Castella Cake


  • 175 grams bread flour (high-gluten), sifted 2x
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 150 grams egg whites
  • 90 grams egg yolks
  • 2 lemons, zest
  • 30 milliliters lemon juice

*Combine excess lemon juice from the two lemons with 1 teaspoon of honey for brushing the completed loaf.


  1. Preheat the oven to 320 F, spray and line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the bread flour, set aside.
  3. Whip the whites on low speed until frothy.
  4. Increase speed to medium, slowly stream in the lemon juice, followed by the sugar. Whip until the whites have reached soft to medium peaks.
  5. Add in the yolks and lemon zest, mix until uniformly combined, mixture should fall in ribbons when stopped.
  6. Sift the bread flour again. Fold the sifted bread flour in and mix until just combined.
  7. Quickly pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, level the batter and remove the excess air bubbles by tapping the pan onto the counter a few times.
  8. Bake for 40 mins, until golden brown and the sides have pulled away from the pan slightly and it is springy to the touch.
  9. After removing the cake from the oven, brush the top with the honey/lemon juice mixture.
  10. After about 15 minutes of cooling time, remove the cake from the baking tray and wrap with plastic wrap. Store the cake wrapped in the fridge for at least four hours before removing to serve; this is to retain the moisture and flavor. Slice off the sides of the cake before serving.
Cashew Cream


  • 120 grams raw cashews
  • 105 grams water
  • 1.5 grams salt

*This recipe is designed to give the consistency of a heavy cream. Adjusting the amount of water will vary the consistency of the final product. More water will give the cream a more milk/half and half consistency.


  1. Place cashews in a mason jar and cover with water. Let soak for at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews, place in a high-power blender. Add the water and salt and blend on high until very smooth, around 3 minutes. The consistency should be that of heavy cream thickness.
  3. Quick soak method: Soak the cashews in boiling water for about an hour before draining and rinsing.
Sweet Blueberry Cashew Cream


  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Using a high powdered blender, blend the cashew cream, blueberries and vanilla extract until smooth.
  2. Optional: Add a little sugar or maple syrup to sweeten the cream if the blueberries are too tart.
Coconut Lime Cashew Panna Cotta


  • 1 cup cashew cream
  • 1/2 cup water (optional coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 lime, zest
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar
  • 1/4 cup hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay out the coconut flakes, toast until golden brown about 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, bring the Cashew cream, water and toasted coconut to boil. Allow to simmer for 5 mins, stiring constantly allowing the coconut to infuse into the cream. Remove from heat and strain to remove the toasted coconut flakes.
  3. Return the cream to the saucepan; add in the vanilla sugar and lime zest, cooking until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Add the agar agar to the hot water, stir until fully dissolved.
  5. Increase the heat to medium, bring to a gentle boil while whisking continuously, until thickened.
  6. Remove the cream from the heat and immediately divide into greased molds or ramekins.
  7. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before placing into the fridge to expedite the setting of the cream.
Blueberry Coulis


  • 220 grams blueberries
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 15 grams lemon juice
  • 100 grams water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, sugar should be dissolved and blueberries should be softened.
  2. Allow to slightly cool; transfer mixture to a high-powered blender, blend on high until smooth.
  3. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer or chinos. Chill until ready for use.

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