Tender cake, light mousse and creamy frosting. This intriguing cake is delicately flavored and full of a captivating rich green hue. If you’ve never experienced matcha green tea powder in anything other than hot tea, this dessert is easy to fall in love with. Though the recipe appears daunting, each step can be broken down into smaller jobs that can easily be prepared ahead. While we highly recommend the matcha powder, the cake and buttercream can both be simply prepared without them and served as a vanilla cake.
Serves 6, makes 1 5×7 inch cake
For the matcha chiffon:
1 ¼ cups cake flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
2 egg yolks, room temperature
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
For the orange mousse:
3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup orange juice, squeezed from approximately 3 oranges
1 tablespoon orange zest
Pinch of salt
1 cup chilled heavy cream
For the matcha buttercream:
5 egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon matcha powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Flat baking sheet
Handheld or standing electric mixer
Metal offset spatula
Parchment paper or silpat
Prepare the matcha chiffon:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a flat baking sheet (preferably about 12”x16”) with either a silpat or parchment paper. Sift together the cake flour, matcha powder, baking powder and salt. Mix with the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whip using a handheld or standing electric mixer on low speed until they begin to froth. Once the whites become foamy, begin gradually adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating, gradually increasing the mixer speed, until stiff peaks form. Fold the meringue into the mixture in three additions.
Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread a thin, even layer using a large offset metal spatula. Tap the pan on all four sides against the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 6 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for another 5 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden and the cake has risen and is soft and springy to touch. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the sheet pan to loosen the cake. Carefully remove the cake from the sheet pan and onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
[Chef’s Note: The cake layer can be made well in advance. Either store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.]
Prepare the orange mousse:
Sprinkle the gelatin over 3 tablespoons of cold water and let sit for 5 minutes until softened. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, orange juice, zest and salt together in a small metal bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk the mixture constantly over until it is thick and fluffy and just reaches the boiling point, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Stir in the bloomed gelatin, whisking to completely dissolve. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture until cool, about 5 minutes.
Whisk the cream with either a handheld or standing mixer until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the orange yolk mixture in three additions. Chill for 30 minutes until barely set, but not liquid.
[Chef’s Note: The base for this mousse is essentially an orange curd or sabayon with added gelatin for stability. The mousse can be made in advance and either refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. To use, bring to room temperature and then slowly reheat at intervals in the microwave to a spreading consistency.]
For the matcha buttercream:
Set the unattached heatproof bowl of an electric standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Add and whisk the egg whites, sugar and matcha powder until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reads 160 F on a thermometer (it should feel hot to the touch). Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until cool and stiff, but not dry, peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium low, and add the butter, several tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and salt and continue mixing until the frosting comes together and is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. The buttercream is ready to use now or can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for one month. Bring to room temperature and beat before using.
To assemble the cake:
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the cake in half on each side to create four 6×8 rectangles. (It is easiest to assemble the cake if you have a 6×8 inch rectangle ring mold, but it can also be done without.)
Place one of the rectangles on a piece of cardboard or rectangular cake board. Spread a layer of the mousse over the cake layer, matching the thickness of the cake, and level with an small offset spatula. Place the cake in the refigerator for 2 hours or the freezer for 30 minutes until the mousse is set. Layer another rectangle of cake over the mousse, and spread the buttercream over the cake. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until firm, and repeat with another layer of cake, mousse, cake and then buttercream for the final layer. Place the entire cake in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 1 hour to set.
Using a serrated knife, trim all four sides of the cake to make them clean, even and flat.
Serve the cake at room temperature with an optional dusting of 1 teaspoon matcha powder sifted with ¼ cup powdered sugar.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass