I just don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I would far prefer to gorge myself on noodles than dessert. But my roommates, as I affectionately call my husband and daughters, do enjoy something sweet after dinner. So wanting to indulge them recently, I came up with this Matcha Cake. I ended up so pleased with the results that I made it a spring special at the restaurant. Not overly sweet, packed with creamy white chocolate chips, and moist with a beautiful green color from the matcha, this fragrant pound cake deserves a special place on your table too. Served with lightly whipped cream and fresh strawberries, it is a taste of Spring in every bite.
No Match for Matcha
Matcha is a powdered whole leaf green tea frequently enjoyed as a hot frothy tea in Japan. It’s typically mixed in hot water with a bamboo whisk to make a lightly bitter, slightly astringent beverage. It’s bracing and energizing. Some Uji matcha tea with a couple of traditional sweets is a true Kyoto tea house delight that you should put right on your bucket list.
Matcha has an earthy quality, and is packed with health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants and amino acids, matcha has been shown to help with everything from blood pressure to metabolism, and is credited with promoting relaxation. There are two types of matcha that you will typically find available- ceremonial and culinary. The ceremonial is the highest grade meant to be enjoyed as tea, whereas the culinary is used in a variety of food applications such as smoothies, cakes, and desserts. I like to seek out culinary matcha that is produced in Japan, as it is of a noticeably higher quality. The earthiness is tempered with a hint of grassy sweetness, instead of the bitter musty notes of lower quality matcha. As a general rule, the higher the price and the more beautiful green the color, the better the matcha tea quality.
I don’t bake all that often. And there’s nothing more disappointing than spending all that time and money for ingredients to end up with a baking fail. So I do have a few tips to always keep in mind when baking. First, the most accurate way to measure flour is by weight, using a scale. If you are old school and use dry measuring cups, 6.75 ounces of flour is roughly 1 and 1/2 cups. Remember to stir the flour first to aerate it, then scoop it out into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off. That is the best way to insure you get an accurate measurement. Too much flour creates dense, tough cakes, while too little results in cakes that don’t rise properly.
Second, make sure all of your dairy is at room temperature, which will help it aerate properly and incorporate into the cake mix easily. I leave the butter, sour cream, and eggs out in the morning if I know I want to bake later in the day. The butter doesn’t need to be meltingly soft, but you should be able to push a finger into it without much effort. If you’ve forgotten to do this, you can put the eggs in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes and chop up the butter into small pieces which will help it soften sooner.
Final tips- always read through the recipe before starting. Nothing’s worse than being midway in and realizing you don’t have an ingredient or forgot a step. And check expiration dates on baking soda and powder. If you don’t bake very often, you will be surprised how quickly a date passes! Following these few steps will dramatically level up your baking game.
For this Matcha Cake I first dissolve the matcha in warm water. Matcha is stubbornly light and difficult to hydrate. Use a whisk for the smoothest result. This whisking makes sure the matcha is fully dissolved and no one gets a blast of powder in a bite. Then go ahead and mix it into the sour cream to create a creamy green paste.
I think pound cakes without sour cream or buttermilk are much less delicious. They add moisture and a plushness that you don’t get when you skip them. If you don’t normally keep either on hand, you can use plain yogurt or mayonnaise in a pinch, but definitely don’t skip it.
Then it’s time to cream the butter and sugar. The butter should be soft enough to leave a finger indent, but not so soft that it is liquidy.
In order to have a light and moist cake that is not dense, it’s important to incorporate air into the butter and the egg. So beat them long and strong and crank up the speed to medium high once all of the ingredients are incorporated and won’t fly out of the bowl! The butter and sugar should be beat long enough that the grittiness has mostly dissolved. Then the eggs should be added one at a time so that you can work up a thick emulsified mixture- it should look like buttercream or thick mayonnaise.
Once you add the flour, this is when you want to take it low and slow. Keep your mixer on the slowest speed and only mix until the flour is mostly incorporated. I like to finish the last bit by hand, so you don’t over mix which can yield a tough cake. Last, mix in the white chocolate chips gently with a rubber spatula.
Now it’s time to bake. I find the cake is ready right around the hour mark. But ovens can vary greatly, so start checking for doneness around 50 minutes. You can always keep in it longer, but you can’t unbake it. A couple of crumbs clinging to a toothpick when you do a check are what you are looking for.
Ice, Icing Baby
My favorite part of this Matcha Cake is the icing! It turns an intense, even lurid, green color. Normally you would have to use some noxious chemicals to get such a dramatic color. Since the matcha icing comes together quickly, you can whip it up while the cake is cooling.
Make this sophisticated but easy pound cake for the sweets loving roommates in your life. When you do, take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment-we love hearing from you! And of course, show us those gorgeous matcha cakes by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen.
For the Cake:
- 6 ¾ oz ( 1 ½ cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 oz (½ cup) unsalted butter, slightly soft
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tablespoons matcha powder
- 2 Tablespoons warm water
- ½ cup sour cream (light is fine)
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon matcha powder
- 2 Tablespoons warm water
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Lightly whipped cream and strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 325 and move the oven shelf to the middle of the oven.
- Spray a loaf pan that’s 8”x5”x3” with pan coating or nonstick coating and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the matcha powder with the warm water until it is a smooth thick paste. Then add it to the sour cream and mix until combined. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, first on slow speed and then on medium high, beat the butter with the sugar until the mixture is slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the egg is blended before adding the next one. Continue beating for 1 more minute on medium high until the mixture looks creamy (like thick mayonnaise).
- With the mixer on low, add half of the flour and mix until just combined. Then add all of the sour cream mixture. Mix until the batter is mostly a streaky green. Then add the remaining flour and mix until the flour is almost all incorporated. It’s fine to have some dry flour still visible. Stop the mixer and switch to a rubber spatula.
- Add the white chocolate chips and mix with the spatula by hand until the batter is uniformly combined, making sure you get all the way to the bottom of the bowl and getting to the sides as well.
- Scrape the batter into the baking pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick test comes out with just a few crumbs clinging when you test the cake in the center.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and while it’s cooling, get the icing ready.
- Mix the matcha powder with the warm water first until it is completely smooth. Then add it to the confectioners sugar and whisk it together until it is a thick smooth paste.
- Carefully tip the cake pan so it’s on a side and tilt it over to get the cake out. Turn it right side up on a cooling rack. Pour the icing on the top of the cake. The heat from the cake will help it spread over the cake. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
- Serve the cake slices with a little whipped cream and some strawberries.
Keywords: matcha, matcha cake, white chocolate, asian desserts