Green has come to symbolize springtime … but also envy and even the rot of mold. Never would I have thought to bake a green cake, yet alone set one on a table for company! But while attending my nephew’s wedding last winter, that is exactly what we were served. One tier of the wedding cake was a lovely snow white, the second was obviously chocolate and the third was green. Not ever having seen a green cake prior to this occasion, that’s the slice that I requested and it was both delicious and quite unique in flavor. Since then I’ve been searching for the illusive green butter cake recipe that is truly green by nature and makes no use at all of any artificial color.
After googling a bit, I discovered that the greenish hue is a result of using powdered green tea and that one of the finest green teas is the matcha powder imported from Japan. It’s certainly not cheap with a small 100 gram sachet costing just around ten US dollars in Israel. If I knew for sure that I would love it then maybe the investment would be worthwhile, but I was only out to experiment with a recipe found on the net and where most of the reviewers were saying that they were “looking forward” to trying it out, without providing any real feedback. But I figured that since there is so much equipment that I’ve already spent money on, that has remained unused and idle, what’s another few dollars for the fun of experimenting?
My first Matcha Cake recipe is not worth sharing. While the batter came together very nicely and was utterly smooth and silken when poured into the pan, it never baked properly. Even after doubling the baking time, the center remained so soft and wet that it literally collapsed in the middle. And to make things even more disappointing, the cake was really brown inside without even a hint of the soft green batter that had been poured into the pan. But while the cake recipe was a definite failure, the parts of it that did bake thru were surprisingly tasty. So much for experiment one with matcha powder.
Armored with this new and interesting flavor, and the remains of almost a whole sachet of matcha powder, I was determined to make this work. After some more reading, I came to understand that the green batter turned brown in the oven because of the prolonged baking time. Matcha apparently does not like extensive heat. So I decided to try this again, using my fail safe lemon cake recipe. With the wave of a wand and the substituting of one or two ingredients, it has become a delicious orange cake as well as a great vanilla cake so I know that the basic recipe does work very well. All that was needed was to switch out the lemon and to add the matcha plus a little more liquid to make up for the lemon juice which would be excluded.
To ensure that the cake would bake up in a shorter period of time and with less exposure time to heat, I mixed up only half of my usual recipe and baked one thin layer in a 20cm X 32cm (8 X 13 inch) pan at 165 degrees C for 35 minutes. Thirty minutes probably would have been enough. The cake baked up quite level to a height of one inch. I ended up splitting it into thirds and filling it with homemade lemon jam and honey ermine butter cream. The taste was perfect … just what I was looking for and it baked well throughout. I would have preferred if the cake was yet a bit greener and if I could figure out a way to bake layers that were deeper without compromising either color or texture. Projects for the future!
Here’s the recipe:
- 150 grams butter at room temperature
- 160 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 90 grams eggs
- 170 grams all purpose flour
- 5 grams (1 tsp) baking powder
- 100 grams sour cream (I use 15% fat)
- 25 grams milk
- 1 Tbsp matcha powder
- Using a stand mixer, whisk together the butter and the sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time whisking at high speed.
- Change to the guitar beater.
- On low speed slowly add in the sifted dry ingredients alternating with the cream and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Bake in a parchment lined 8 by 13 inch pan at 165 C. for 30 minutes.
- The recipe can easily be doubled, since this was actually half of the original.
- Let cool and enjoy.