March 19, 2012

Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream

Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream

I have to admit, last time I had green tea cake, I was not a fan.  My husband (then boyfriend) and I were visiting a friend who was studying abroad in Japan over our spring break (this was back in college).  We were staying in this strange hotel over a mall/supermarket, and for reasons I don't remember, we decided to eat every Japanese baked good and sweet from that supermarket.

For dinner.


We ended up with a lot of green tea goodies back at our hotel room.  There was green tea cake, chocolate, some sort of bread thing, and more cake.  I assumed I would like them since I love green tea ice cream.  No.  None of us liked them and they went uneaten other than a few exploratory nibbles.  Luckily, there were other tasty sweet things to eat, and I had a good dinner.  My husband and our friend...not so much.  See, I was used to eating dinners that were mostly comprised of sucrose (I have a horrible sweet tooth).  They were not, so they spent the rest of the night sick from too much sugar.  Good trip!

 Ah well, more for me!

Now, I know better than to decree that I don't like something based solely on the supermarket version of it, so I decided to make my own green tea cake.  I settled on lemon and honey for the frosting flavor because that sounded delicious and tea-ish.

Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream

I've been wanting to try Italian Meringue Buttercream for a while (as opposed to Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which is what I usually make).  I followed Whisk Kid's awesome tutorial for the base buttercream, and then added lemon and honey. I found Italian Meringue Buttercream to be much more...stressful...than Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The trickiest part was timing the heating of the sugar syrup and the beating of the eggs.  I found that Whisk Kid's suggestion to start beating the eggs at around 230° gave me way too little time to get the eggs beaten.  I had to throw out the sugar syrup and restart as quickly as possible so that the eggs would not deflate.  Then, it took a very long time for the frosting to come together at the end.  I spent many, many minutes nervously checking my buttercream, pacing the length of the kitchen, and anxiously twirling my hair around my fingers, until finally....finally it came together!  The flavor and texture didn't seem too different from the Swiss version, but this could have been due to my logistical difficulties.  I'll definitely try Italian Meringue Buttercream again, but for the sake of my nerves, it might not be soon.

Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream

Recently, I've become obsessed with ombre cakes (my Pinterest boards are becoming increasingly full of them).  So, for the frosting on this cake, I decided to do a light yellow gradient.  I then decided to top it with a single yellow fondant rose and some green fondant leaves that I made using Wilton's tutorial.

Fondant Rose

The green tea cake itself was very delicious - it had a really nice, delicate flavor and wasn't anything like those horrible supermarket cakes.  Unfortunately, the lemon buttercream overwhelmed the cake.  Lemon is a pretty strong flavor, and it was really all I could taste while eating the frosted cake.  When I make this again, I'll make sure to do a very, very light lemon flavor in the buttercream.

Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream

Green Tea Layer Cake
Adapted from Tiramisuki's Green Tea Layer Cake recipe.  Makes two thick, 6-inch round cake layers.  This was a great recipe - the cake was delicious and very moist.  Many sources indicated that you should use a decent-quality matcha.  I used DoMatcha Organic Matcha, and it was very nice.

Ingredients
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered green tea (I used DoMatcha Organic Matcha)
½ cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1½ eggs
½ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line two 6" round cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease and flour.
  2. Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, and green tea powder; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before turning out of the pans.
Lemon Honey Italian Meringue Buttercream
This was very tasty, but unfortunately overpowered the delicate green tea flavor.  I had anticipated that this might happen, and only added lemon to the buttercream going between the cake layers.  This was still too much, so I would suggest using only a very small amount of lemon zest to flavor your buttercream.

Ingredients
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
6 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
Honey, to taste
Zest from ½ lemon

Method
  1. Heat the 1 cup sugar and water on the stove to 245° F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. As the sugar is heating, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to over-beat. 
  2. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp. 
  3. Begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated. Keep whipping until the frosting comes together.
  4. Add the vanilla extract.  Slowly add the honey until  you have the sweetness level you want.  Separate out about a quarter of the buttercream.  Add a small amount of lemon zest the this quarter until it is very lightly lemon flavored.
Building a Green Tea Layer Cake with Lemon Honey Ombre Buttercream
  1. Level and torte (cut in half) each cake layer so that you have 4 even layers.  I like using a cake leveler to do this.
  2. Place your first cake layer on your decorating surface.  Spread a thin layer of the lemon-flavored buttercream evenly over the cake layer.  Place the next layer on top, and repeat.  Repeat with the remaining layers, but don't frost the top layer just yet.
  3.  Spread a thin coat of non-lemon buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.  Don't worry if you get crumbs in the frosting - that's what this layer is for!  Place the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.
  4. While your crumb coat is setting, mix your colors.  Divide the non-lemon buttercream into four, with more buttercream in one of your portions (this will be the white frosting that will cover the top as well).
  5. Mix your darkest color using one of your smaller portions.  Repeat with the next darkest, and then with the lightest color.  Try to get an even gradient and not color any portion too dark - I used a very small amount of coloring.
  6. Remove your cake from the refrigerator.  Frost the top with white buttercream.
  7. Using a large piping tip, pipe your darkest color around the bottom quarter of your cake (since my cake had four layers, a quarter was just one cake layer).
  8. Repeat with the next darkest color on the next quarter, and so on until you pipe white on the top quarter of the cake.
  9. Smooth the sides of your cake using an offset spatula and making sure not to mix the colors (I wiped my spatula off on a towel often).
  10. Add a fondant decoration if you would like!

20 comments:

  1. This looks wonderful! I don't live in the US, if I can't get my hands on powdered matcha, is there something I could use as a substitute?

    Your blog is coming along nicely, keep it up! I'll be sure to check it from now on.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I don't really know of any substitute - it may be that you could grind your own green tea using a mortar and pestle. Or, you could try infusing green tea (from teabags or loose leaf) into some liquid (milk probably) to be added to your cake. You would need a different cake recipe - one that has a liquid in it. Here is a recipe that does this with earl grey tea - http://www.savorwvmagazine.com/2012/01/earl-grey-cupcakes-with-lavender-frosting/. I'm not sure how well it will work with green tea - I don't know if you'll get enough flavor. If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

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  2. Hi, I came across your blog very randomly, you have a fantastic blog and I'm loving our green tea layer cake. Looks amazing. I love your suggestion of the Earl Grey cupcakes too and will have to find that post and make them as my mum loves Earl Grey and won't drink regular tea.

    I have a baking blog too so a nice surprise coming along to your blog in unusual terms.

    -Lisa.
    Sweet 2 Eat Baking

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa! I haven't tried Earl Grey cupcakes yet, but I think I will soon. I visited your blog - it's so pretty! I love your posts and the look of the blog itself.

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  3. I already bookmarked this recipe for a future reference. Delicious cake!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I would love to know how it turns out for you!

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  4. nice opinion.. thanks for sharing..

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  5. I'm going to make this tomorrow!

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! I would love to know how it goes!

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  6. I'm glad you tried green tea cake again, I have had one that was really good, I would love to try yours at some point.
    One of the wedding cakes Tanner's mom did was Italian Buttercream, I remember her still being stressed about it, even though she has made it a ton of times. And then we had to rush the cake to the hotel room and blast the air conditioning, since the frosting kept trying to melt before the wedding. Crazy, but I guess you baking people like stuff like that.

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    Replies
    1. Kind of. The Italian Buttercream was stressful enough that I'll probably stay away from it for a little while.
      I'll make green tea cake for you soon!

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  7. Also, the little drawing, about eating sweets for dinner, is awesome!

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  8. They look so pretty! Can you make a video tutorial of How to Make the Ombre Buttercream? :-D

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Next time I make an ombre cake, I'll make a video tutorial of the process. In the meantime, I found this step-by-step guide with photos for a process that was pretty similar to mine (mine is smooth, whereas this one is textured): http://bubbleandsweet.blogspot.com/2011/09/easy-pink-ombre-butter-cream-frosting.html.

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  9. I found the quantities in this recipe to be too small. I had a "mini cake" and found other recipes online that are similar, but doubled to make a regular size cake. Be careful of this recipe as its so small and thin that it burns easily (I think the green tea burns easily in the oven). Also, what is 1 1/2 eggs? I found this amusing. I put in two eggs anyhow. As far as the buttercream frosting- fuggedabout it! super difficult. I am looking for alternate frostings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What size cake pan did you use? This recipe is for two 6" round cake pans, and I found that it makes pretty thick layers. For 9" round pans, you will want to double the recipe. Yes, the 1 1/2 eggs is weird - did two eggs work well for you?

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  10. How did you measure 1 1/2 eggs? By beating them light before measuring? Also, will the cake layer be thick also if i bake them in two 7" cake pan?

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    Replies
    1. To get a half egg, I usually just crack an egg and try not to pour all of the yolk/white in. Unless you're actually weighing eggs (which I only do for macarons currently), the exact amount is already pretty variable. You could probably get away with two eggs here if you wanted to.

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  11. I just made this cake over the weekend for my friend's birthday! It turned out wonderfully! Everyone loved it, and I'm upset I wasn't able to sneak myself a slice for later. I doubled the ingredients and used a little more matcha because I wanted a stronger green tea flavor, and I used regular buttercream instead of the italian meringue - I tried, it was just way too difficult. But nonetheless, it was amazing! Thank you so much for this recipe! I love it so much and published a post about it on my blog yesterday! :)

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