Tuesday, February 16, 2010

White Velvet Matcha Cake with Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream

Here it is: my second cake ever! If you'll remember, the first one was my version of Cheesecake Factory's Red Velvet White Chocolate cheesecake. (It turned out really well and since then, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from readers who have tried it! Yay!) Anyway, because of that post, I got some great cake decorating tips from readers, so I set out to try them!

Nope, it's not any easier or less daunting the second time around, in case you were wondering. hehe. I don't know why, but cake baking/decorating has always been the bane of my existence. Even though the first one turned out fantastically, it didn't seem to alleviate any of the nervousness that I get when I think about making another one. It requires so much skill and knowledge.. and I'm still such a novice.

Anyway, I know that if I don't practice, I'll never get better. So I pushed on and decided to finally trying my hand at a second cake.

I've been putting off this entry because I stumbled around quite a bit and it's not one of my proudest kitchen moments. hehe. But I figured: I learned a lot from it, which I can then share with all of you! Plus, it turned out to be one great tasting cake, so the recipe is definitely worth sharing, too!

Here it is: White Velvet Matcha cake with Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream!

I really like matcha flavored desserts. The funny thing is that I greatly dislike drinking matcha when it's in tea form. hehe. Weird, huh? I think it's because the flavor is just too strong when you make it into tea, but it's perfect when you bake it into a dessert! And it pairs especially well with chocolate!

You can usually find it at specialty tea shops like Teavanna or Japanese grocery stores. You can even purchase it on Amazon. It's super expensive, but totally worth it! You don't use a lot of it at a time, so a little goes a long way.

If you're unfamiliar with it, here are some quick facts:

(1) It's a super high-end type of green tea.
(2) It's a really fine, beautiful green powder. Think: baking powder consistency.
(3) The taste reminds me a lot of dark chocolate- slightly bitter and kinda earthy. It's really unique tasting and difficult to describe. It's exotic! Once it's paired with chocolate and sweetened in a dessert, the flavor really shines through. It's worth trying at least once in your life! =)
(4) It's super high in antioxidants and has a ton of great health benefits. So you can, um, feel good about scarfing down half of this cake in one sitting. Completely guilt-free! Or something like that.. tee hee.

Ok, done rambling now. On with the cake baking adventure!

(1) The White Velvet Matcha Cake

For this cake, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's classic White Velvet Cake recipe. As I've mentioned before, it's the perfect "cake base" for flavors and different types of frosting. It's called "white velvet" because that's what it feels like on your tongue! It's perfect!

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites, milk and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add butter and milk. Mix until well combined.

Gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly and add Matcha to 1/2 of the batter.

Gently fold the matcha powder in, until just combined.

Grease two 9 inch springform pans. I also placed parchment paper rounds on the bottom of the pans. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Ok, here's where I encountered some problems. Notice how the sides of my cake are SUPER brown, whereas the top is a nice green. This is bad. It makes the sides really tough. I think it means that it baked unevenly, also creating a dome shape on top. This became a problem later, when I went to slice it in half, horizontally. You'll see what I mean...more on this later.

Here's a really great tip that I got about slicing your cake layers: use dental floss! Crazy, eh? I mentioned in my first cake post that I got one of those levelers, which didn't work very well. A reader told me that I should just use floss- which turned out to be really effective! Give it a whirl next time you bake a cake. =)

(2) The Chocolate Mousseline Buttercream

This is Rose's version of the Italian Meringue Buttercream.

You'll need 6 oz of dark chocolate, melted and cooled. It's super important for it to be cooled, because it will melt the butter in the buttercream and disrupt the overall consistency.

You'll need to cut up 2 cups of butter that's softened, but still cool. This is important too- you don't want butter that's completely at room temperature. (It will be too soft and will also disrupt the consistency.) It should be soft around the edges, but still be a bit stiff and cool in the center.

For a complete, step by step tutorial on how to make Italian Meringue Buttercream, please visit this entry: Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes. (Highly recommended for first timers.)

When your buttercream comes together, it should be smooth, silky, and have a beautiful sheen to it.

Mix in the melted chocolate until just combined.

Mmmm! So delicious! See how shiny it is? =)

(3) Putting it all together
(The hard part for me)

I sliced both the white cake and the matcha cake in half, horizontally, so that I ended up with four layers.

I put buttercream between each layer. Yikes! It's messy and not very pretty. This is usually when I start to panic. Yup. Definitely panicked.

Last time, I kept on picking up pesky red crumbs in my white cream cheese frosting. Not so good. My readers emailed saying that I should do a "crumb coating" layer. Meaning, you thinly coat the cake first, then refrigerate it. Once you put on the second coat of buttercream, it will be crumb free! That worked out great for me! Thanks!

Then I started to decorate. Small problem: I didn't have enough buttercream for piping. Dang! Shoulda thought of that. I think I ran out of buttercream because I had four layers and used up extra for the filling. If you try this recipe, you should probably multiply everything by 1.5.

Here are some tips I got for making the buttercream smooth:

(1) You can use a bench scraper. It's basically a scraper with a flat edge. You can find it at most baking supply stores.
(2) It helps if you chill the cake and then scrape.
(3) Here's a crazy one that I wasn't able to try out yet- use a small, dense paint roller! lol. Chill your cake and then take a paint roller to it. Apparently it works wonders! (You rock, Ellen!) I really want to attempt this but haven't had time to run out and get one. Apparently you can find them at Home Depot! Cool, eh? I'll let you guys know how it works out once I get a chance to try it!

I didn't feel like doing another half batch of the buttercream, so I used white chocolate to decorate the cake. I sprinkled some shavings on top. Not the prettiest way to decorate, but it got the job done. Plus, now there's white chocolate on the cake- yum!

Ok, remember how I said that the cake baked unevenly and created a "dome" on top? This is why that was bad.

Here's a close-up of "The Bad." =)

I was really careful when I sliced the cake horizontally- I made sure that it was precisely cut in half at the center line. But since there was a giant dome on top, when I cut a slice out, I realized that it created two unequal layers- one with a giant dome shape, and a super skinny layer! I was super upset by this, because I was so careful about making it even when I sliced it. I should have over compensated for the domed half.

Of course, I consulted the cake guru, Patricia of Butteryum. The woman regularly makes wedding cakes! How impressive is that? Anyway, I explained my problem to her and she had a simple solution: insulated baking strips. What the heck? I had no idea what they were.

Apparently, they're long strips of... something (no idea what), and you wrap it around the cake pan to "insulate" it. This insures that it bakes evenly- no brown or burnt edges, and it reduces the dome effect! As it turns out, they're not very expensive. A great investment, if you ask me!

I ran out and got one immediately and attempted my third cake ever with it! Stay tuned later this week when I blog about how they worked out! =) I guess this week will be "Judy's Cake Adventure Week." hehe. I assure you that this third cake is equally as mouth-watering!

Alright, here's my review of the recipe: SO DELISH! The crumb was perfect- just like velvet in your mouth, as promised! The flavors came together really well and complimented each other. As it turned out, it was actually a blessing that I ran out of buttercream, because the white chocolate ended up being a great addition to the cake!

I brought this cake to a party and it was an instant hit! Everyone thought it was super delicious and I got a ton of compliments. This cake really is pretty unique- both in terms of the texture and the flavors. It's not something that you get to taste everyday!

And I loved the beautiful vibrant color of the matcha! If I coulda just gotten the layers to be even, it would've been an even more beautiful cake. Everyone was super impressed by its beauty, even with my mess-up! =) It definitely has the "wow" factor.

Give this recipe a try, just so you can experience matcha in its finest form!

Click HERE for the recipes


  1. WOW. No matter what you think - I think that this cake looks absolutely perfect :) I wish I coulda been there to scarf down half of that myself!

  2. Fabulous cake Judy - I really, really love it. The flavors/colors are amazing, and the photos really do them justice. I can't believe it's only your second cake - you did such a great job. I don't know how in the world I'm supposed to fall asleep in a few minutes with visions of that lovely cake dancing in my head. Wish I could sample a teensy-tiny bite.

    I can't wait to read what you have to say about the insulated cake strips - eagerly awaiting that one.


    PS - thank you for your kind words!

    PSS - no matter how experienced a cake decorator is, they're never completely satisfied with their finished project. It's that whole perfectionism/baking ocd thing. It comes with the territory so get used to it, you'll always be your own worst critic.

  3. Judy - SO GLAD you posted about the Matcha! I've been wanting/looking for that here and was going to email you to find out just exactly what it was (packaging, etc.)! That's great - I was in the tea department looking at loose teas... hm. Know I know! Now, that cake is STUNNING! Truly... that's a great trick for a flat top. No one critiques the inside layers! :) The piping/frosting is perfect - you'd never know it was your second cake - it looks very professional. I (not near an expert) use a paper towel on chilled, buttercream-frosted cake. Put the towel on the cake and lighly rub, move the towel to a new area, lightly rub. It makes your cake super smooth - if you like it like that. But I LOVE seeing the bench scraper marks - they are so artistic! As is the whole cake - it's marvelous!

  4. Beautiful cake! I still need to make your first cake - red velvet cheesecake. Great job!

  5. I would love to know if any of the tricks for smoothing like the paper towel method(i've done that one works pretty well) or the paint roller(make sure its new!! hehe) would work on the swiss meringue buttercream or the italian, because those don't "crust" like our traditional american buttercream(which is gross!!) without that crusting I would think(I am no expert!!) would be messy...let me know!! looks like a very yummy cake!!

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  7. I did make your red velvet cheescake (twice) and would love to try this one! The green is beautiful...However, I'm not so sure about the matcha. I think I'll maybe try a cup of that first. Just to get an idea about the flavor. Well done on your second attempt! I am eagerly waiting for the third. ~Janine-

  8. I think this is amazing. Shall I tell you why?

    OK, first of all, I find matcha really delicious, but quite overpowering. Only adding it to half the cake would really temper that.

    Second - IMB. Not had it, but I know that it's meant to not be too sweet. So you can still taste the matcha, I'm sure.

    Third - it's Rose! She knows.

    Love it. Well done. (I'm going to try the dental floss too!)

    Also, you should try doing an English Victoria Sandwich; it's the true test, since you don't ice them.

  9. This looks magical, Judy! And is immediately going on my must-make list. I'm not sure if I can use that much butter for one recipe without shedding a few tears, but don't know until I try 8).

  10. Hi Judy! Omg my mouth is watering looking at these pictures! I LOVE matcha and chocolate!

    And actually, the uneven layers look interesting to me... haha...

    Thanks for posting this, Judy!

  11. This really look so delicious. I made a matcha and coconut cake that I love so I bet I would so love this one as well. You did a beautiful job!

  12. This is super beautiful! I was looking for a recipe for a matcha cake last week and gave up because none of them looked green and pretty enough for me, haha. I have to try this recipe! And I am really excited for this italian meringue buttercream, I didn't even know it existed!

    I stumbled upon your blog on a mention from the Kitchn about your cupcake wrappers (love them!) and I have been clicking around for an hour at least now! Your photo tutorials are SO helpful. My new favourite blog!

  13. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

  14. I've been looking for a layered matcha cake for ages! This is really great, and I don't think the dome bit looks bad :) Your piping skills are very good too!


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