This special cake all started when a friend gave me permission to bring “something weird” to her birthday party. It was also inspired by my love of these flavours, and wanting to make something a little bit fancy that isn’t really that difficult to put together. It’s just a few layers of cake and cream, after all.
I tested a few versions of the recipe to settle on a texture I was happy with. What makes the perfect sponge cake? Personally I like some bite, some texture, not so much a super fluffy light as air sponge. The unusual method in this recipe gives the cake its light sponge feel and adding almond meal adds some weight and flavour.
For the sweet red bean cream, I actually made my own sweet red bean paste from dried adzuki beans using this method at the Just One Cookbook site. I made the more textured version, the Tsubuan. You can buy tins of ready made sweet anko paste in Asian grocery shops.
I don’t recommend icing this cake. I think a layer of icing would be overkill when the cake is rich and sweet enough already. But, you can make the top look pretty and “finished” with icing sugar and matcha powder. You could make a pretty pattern with the matcha powder using a stamped cut out image, or sift it over the icing sugar in a simple pattern of diagonal lines, covering the portion you don’t wish to sprinkle with a small piece of baking paper.
The colour of the cake will depend on your matcha powder, which sometimes turns more brown than green when cooked. Don’t worry, it still tastes delicious.
Green tea and red bean cream layer cake
- 4 eggs, separated
- 165g caster sugar
- 100g plain (all purpose) flour
- 40g almond meal
- 2 teaspoons matcha powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 50g butter
Red bean cream
- 300ml thickened cream
- ½ cup (150g) anko (sweet red bean paste)
For decorating – icing sugar and extra matcha powder
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line or grease a baking tray.
Beat the egg whites at high speed for a few minutes, until thick and creamy.
Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Add the egg yolks, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Melt the butter then set aside to cool a little.
In a separate bowl, sift and combine the flour, almond meal, matcha powder, and bicarbonate of soda.
Sift the dry mixture over the egg mixture, in two batches, folding carefully with a spatula or spoon each time. Gently fold until all ingredients are combined.
Fold the melted butter through the mixture until combined.
Gently pour the mixture into the lined tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a mixing bowl and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add the anko and mix well.
Turn the cooled cake out onto a large chopping board. With a sharp serrated knife, trim off any uneven edges.
Using a clean ruler, measure the width of your cake. Measure out three even parts. Cut straight lines at your measured points to make three separate rectangles of cake.
Place one rectangle on a serving platter and spread half the cream mixture evenly over the cake. Carefully place the second rectangle on top of the cream, then spread the remaining cream mixture evenly over that layer of cake. Finally, place the third rectangle of cake on top.
Decorate if you like, either simply with a fine layer of sifted icing sugar, or with a small amount of sifted matcha powder in patterns such as diagonal lines, or small shapes.
Step by step in pictures:
If all that sifting, egg separating and layering isn’t your thing, try a more straightforward recipe for a basic butter or chocolate cake in my earlier post here.
The first time I made this cake there was quite a Japanese theme going on in our household all weekend, with some friends who usually live in Japan staying with us, and Cherry Blossom #1 and our friend sitting the JLPT exam (a standard test for Japanese language students).
Just as well I had my special green tea socks at the ready – the perfect footwear for the occasion of eating cake.