Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cake of the Week: Green Tea Cake with Vanilla Glaze

I bet that right now, in your pantry and fridge, you have everything you need to make this pretty little cake. It’s a Green Tea Cake, but there are no powders or potions required – just a few tea bags! And bonus points for those of you looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a semi-classy way, because with just a few drops of food coloring, this tea-flavored cake becomes super-seasonal. 

I used Zen green tea, which is infused with lemongrass and spearmint. The resulting cake was lightly minty-fresh-tasting and not too sweet. The frosting balanced it out nicely and added some necessary sweetness.

A lot of people seem to think that as a cake-blogger, things in the kitchen always go well for me. This is sooo far from the truth! One of the best things about baking is getting creative and experimenting…which inevitably results in some super-successes, but also some major baking-fails. This cake was almost a baking fail, but one that I managed to salvage into awesomeness. 

Let me tell you how things went down: I envisioned a green tea layer cake, with a light and sweet marshmallow frosting, so I doubled the cake recipe to make two layers. Then I started on the frosting. It takes a long time to get the sugar to soft-ball temperature, so I waited and watched and waited and watched…until I kinda forgot to watch and it got too hot and started to caramelize! I poured it into the egg whites anyways, hoping it would work. It didn’t. What was supposed to be light and fluffy marshmallowy goodness turned into an off-white sticky mess. Bah. I tried to salvage it, but finally wrote it off as a total waste, and to my dismay had to dump it all and start over. 

Round 2 of the frosting I decided to stick to simplicity and just make a vanilla glaze. Though the cake didn’t turn out as I had originally envisioned, it did turn out delicious.  

Green Tea Cake with Vanilla Glaze (printable recipe)
For the Cake:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½  tablespoons green tea leaves (about 2 tea bags)
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring and green sprinkles (optional)

For the Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-4 tablespoons as needed

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch baking pan.
  2. With an electric mixer, or by hand, cream together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pinch of salt, and green tea.  Mix on medium speed until the mixture is slightly coarse and sandy.  This takes about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in milk, egg, and vanilla extract. And beat until incorporated and the batter is smooth. Drop in food coloring until the batter reaches your desired green-ness (keep in mind that color tends to dull in baking, so if the batter looks a bit too bright you’re probably ok). 
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  5. Bake for 22 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the glaze: Beat sugar, butter, and vanilla. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until it reaches a glaze-ish consistency. Spread the frosting on top of the cake and decorate with sprinkles if you’re using them.