The most popular Japanese pancake mix brand is Morinaga, and these are used not only to make pancakes (or lovingly called hot cake – ホットケッキ – in Japanese), but also cakes, bread, and so much more. Since it is not easy to find Morinaga pancake mix outside of Japan, and even when it is available, the price is crazy expensive compared to the more commonly found buttermilk pancake mix from Krusteaz. My experiments to substitute buttermilk pancake mix instead of Morinaga pancake mix has been pretty successful, and one such experiment is to recreate this beloved matcha muffin recipe. If you have a huge back of buttermilk pancake mix sitting pretty in your pantry, give this recipe a try so you get to make something new and fun with it and not just pancakes and waffles.
After so many different pound cake recipes, the one I keep coming back for again and again is this condensed milk pound cake. The pound cake is just so light and fluffy compared to many other pound cakes, almost like half pound cake and half sponge cake, if that makes any sense. For today, I tweaked the recipe slightly to include some matcha to make matcha variation of the condensed milk pound cake.
Last time, I used a 9″x5″ Wilton loaf pan to bake the original condensed milk pound cake. This time, I am using a 1.5 quart Pyrex glass loaf pan. The Pyrex pan is slightly smaller at 8″x5″, and the cake needed a slightly longer baking time of 50 minutes instead of 40 minutes with the Wilton pan. You can use whichever loaf pan you own, but the smaller Pyrex pan is a better fit for the pound cake, volume wise.
Matcha (green tea powder) and adzuki (red bean) is a great match in almost anything you can think off, so of course they are going to be a perfect pair in this matcha pound cake and adzuki cream. For the pound cake, I am using a matcha condensed milk pound cake from my previous post. If you have a great recipe for a matcha sponge cake, you can use that as well. So, let’s dive into this super easy and super delicious adzuki cream.
For the cream, we need 100 ml (6 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon) whipping cream and 200 gram anko (red bean paste). You can use store bough anko, or make your own following my recipe. First, whip the cream with a whisk (either hand whisking or with electric mixer should work just as fine) until stiff, then fold in the anko into a uniform mixture.
Before assembling the cake, it is better if you let the cake chill in the fridge, so I usually bake the cake a day ahead, chill, then assemble the next day. I cut my pound cake into 3 layers, do try to make the three layers to have equal height, I think I need more practice on this myself 🙂 Sandwich a layer of cream in between two layers of pound cake, so from bottom to top is like this: pound cake layer, cream layer (using 1/3 of cream), pound cake layer, cream layer (using 1/3 of cream), and finally pound cake layer. Cover the cake with the remaining 1/3 of cream. To make sure the cream holds better, it is a good idea to chill the assembled cake in the fridge for 2 hours before serving. To be honest, my cake decorating skill sucks big time, so with one cake and one serving of cream, I am sure you can go ahead and decorate your cake with better result.
Do you love shortbread cookies? And do you love matcha? If you said yes to both, then you are going to love this matcha checkerboard shortbread cookies.
These cookies are so crumbly, and so melt-in-your-mouth. They are not too sweet, which can be dangerous since they disappear so quickly before I even realize I have eaten half a dozen cookies before I stop myself. 😀
Good Matcha is a Must
If you have been flummoxed trying to get that elusive bright green color in your matcha, then you are not alone. I am by nature (or is it by nurture?) a very frugal person.
The first couple of times when I shopped for matcha, I used to choose the cheap kind, and they always ended up looking brownish and the tea I made with them felt slightly gritty.
Well, lesson learned. Now I know better to look for good quality matcha so I don’t end up disappointed.
You can try this culinary grade matcha from Maeda-en if you are still looking. Or if you are a Costco member, I recently bought a huge 12 oz packet of Ito En Matcha for less than $30, super great quality at an unbelievable price.
Not Too Sweet Cookies
Once you have read enough Japanese recipes, you get this concept of not-too-sweet dessert/snack/sweet/cake/e.t.c.
I don’t grow up in Japan, but my Mom is an expert in making not-too-sweet dessert, so much so that I now end up having to cook/bake all sort of sweets at home since store-bought ones feel too sweet for me.
But, if you have a more normal palette, this cookie can be on the not-sweet side. In that case, feel free to increase the sugar to suit your preference. I would suggest adding 50% first, and if even that is not enough, go ahead and double the sugar.
Do Watch Your Oven
In the recipe, I states that the cookies need about 15 minutes of baking time. Know that oven can varies, and yours might need slightly less or slightly longer. But regardless, do start to watch out at around 12 minutes mark.
For this particular batch, it took about 18 minutes, but I think the edges are a bit too brown. 😉 I looked at the cookies at 12 minutes, decided they need more time, and added 5 minutes.
Haha, shouldn’t have done that, should have added just 3 more minutes like I usually did. But, there will be plenty more batches since these quickly disappear into thin air around here.
Lately, I see so many people in one of my FB groups showing off yummy looking bread, and they all use the same bread recipe. Although I already have my favorite bread recipe, I finally give this bread recipe a try, and it is delicious.
I highly recommend the bread dough recipe, and you can use it with all sorts of bread filling, and even plain one is a delight. Have fun!
Hand Knead vs. Electric Mixer
This bread dough is a bit like brioche, so although you can knead with hand, it is better if you let your electric mixer does its thing for you. If you use your hands, you will tend to add too much flour and the bread will end up not as soft as it can be.
When I use an electric mixer, I start with 320 grams of flour, and at most only need to add 2 tablespoons of flour.
If you must use your hands, one trick I learn is to knead the dough a bit into a shaggy mass, walk away for 10 minutes or so, then continue kneading. If you do so, you tend to not add too much flour since the dough has time to develop enough gluten.
When I am lazy but still want to impress, I make a braided loaf. It looks super complicated, each bite is filled with delicious filling, and everyone looks at me like I am a master baker. 😀
It is not hard to make a braided loaf. I have a super complicated step-by-step instruction written out in the recipe, but just refer to my photos as guide. I think the photos do a much better job at explaining the step.
Warning: Filling Might Drip During Baking
This one is based on my own experience. As great as the filling is, it tends to bubble and drip during baking.
So if you have an extra baking sheet, and your oven has 2 racks, set up one rack at middle and place your loaf of pan there, and set up another rack at the bottom and place an extra baking sheet lined with aluminum foil as a precaution in case the filling drips.
Trust me, in case your filling does drip, the baking sheet is going to catch that dripping instead of your oven and making a smoky mess. And the aluminum foil means you can just toss away the mess instead of trying to clean it off from the baking sheet.
Since I have a huge stock of matcha, I decided to bake another matcha cake. Today I have a pretty looking topo map cake to share. The layers from the cake evokes the look of a topographic map, hence the name. Obviously I use matcha to create the green layers, but you can also use pandan paste if that is what you have. Also don’t be afraid to play around and come up with other color combo of your choice.
Choose a Good Quality Matcha
I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing a good quality matcha if you want your finished baked goods to have that vibrant green. You can still use good quality culinary grade matcha, and only splurge on ceremonial grade for drinking purpose. Also, unless you drink or use matcha regularly, I don’t advise buying a big package. Once you open a package of matcha, it starts to degrade and slowly oxidize, which leads to the dull color, even when you start with a good quality matcha. For beginners, it is best to start with a smaller package and see how soon you consume the whole package before deciding on getting a bigger one for your next purchase.
You Need a Double Portion?
This recipe yields a tiny 8 inch x 4 inch cake. And although it rises quite high in the oven, the cake deflates a bit and the finished cake is only about 2 inch high. For me, this small size cake is enough, and it also means I can bake another cake another day. If you want a bigger portion, feel free to double everything, but bake it in an 8 inch square cake pan. The baking temperature and time for double portion is exactly the same.
A Lighter Fluffier Alternative
I love the texture of the cake from this recipe, which is a bit dense and reminds me of a good pound cake. But if you prefer a lighter fluffier cake, you can use cake flour insted of all-purpose flour. Also, you need to double the amount of milk to 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) instead of 2 tablespoons. Keep everythig else the same and you will get a lighter fluffier cake. Enjoy!
When I think of Japanese dessert, I cannot think of anything more traditional and representative than matcha and red bean paste. So, today I am going to combine both in one pretty dessert, a matcha kanten paired with mizu yokan to create a two-layer agar-agar pudding. I decided to have a matcha kanten top layer and a mizu yokan bottom layer, but you can reverse this order if you like.
Matcha, Anko, and Agar-Agar Powder
Since the color of matcha kanten depends solely on the quality of your matcha, you may want to invest on a good quality matcha. I highly recommend this culinary grade matcha from Maeda-En if you are still undecided. As for anko (red bean paste), you can use my recipe, or even just buy some koshi an if that’s the easiest. The last crucial ingredient you need is some agar-agar powder. For this recipe, I decided to use agar-agar powder from Now, and I think it works really well and I may use this from now on to make more agar-agar dessert.
Chiffon cake, widely known as kue bolu in Indonesia, is a very elegant cake. A perfect chiffon cake should be very light, yet moist (not dry!), and if you push it down with your finger, the cake should bounce back to its original shape. If your idea of a perfect chiffon cake is like mine, then this recipe will give you such a cake.
Which matcha (Japanese green tea powder) to use to bake a cake
Since we are going to bake a matcha marble chiffon cake, you will need to procure some matcha (Japanese green tea powder).
There are two kinds of matcha, culinary grade, and ceremony grade. You don’t need to buy ceremony grade for cooking/baking purposes, though you may want to invest in ceremony grade if you love drinking good quality matcha.
Having said that, you still need to invest in good quality matcha, even for the culinary grade. Cheap matcha will produce a sickly green color, and your cake will not be as delicious.
Good quality matcha will have a very bright green color, almost like the color of fresh leaves. Also, good quality matcha will have a very pleasant fresh tea smell, which most bad quality matcha lacks. Some good brands that I have personally use:
How to choose the right chiffon cake pan
Another crucial thing to have to bake this chiffon cake is using the correct chiffon cake pan.
A chiffon cake pan looks exactly like an angel food cake pan, but you must get the aluminum version, and definitely avoid the non-stick version. A chiffon cake needs all the help to cling to the pan while it rises majestically in the oven, and it will fail miserably if you use a non-stick pan.
Alternatively, most people have had success when using an 8″x3″ round cake pan, so if you have this pan at home (make sure it is aluminum and not the non-stick version), you can save money and no need to buy the 7-inch angel food cake pan.
How to create a marbled pattern chiffon cake
To create the marble pattern, you simply need to pour the plain batter and the matcha batter alternately into the chiffon pan.
A lot of recipes call for using a spoon/chopstick at the very end to give the batter a good swirl and believe me, I used to do this too, but this is so unnecessary.
Simply pour about 1/5 of the plain batter into the pan, follow with about 1/5 of the matcha batter, then another 1/5 of the plain on, another 1/5 of the matcha, until you use up both kind of batter. You won’t need to swirl the batter at the end, and you definitely will still get the marble pattern.
How to create a controlled cracking chiffon cake
Basically, almost all chiffon cake will crack, though we use to always hide this cracked part by turning the cake upside down. Lately, a lot of bakers figure out a way to create a controlled cracking pattern, so the cracks look designed, and not by accident.
The one I create is the simplest cracking pattern, by running a sharp knife to create regularly spaced thin slits on top of the cake at the early stage of the baking once the top part looks set. This step is totally optional, and if you don’t mind the haphazard cracks that will form naturally, you can skip this step altogether.
Growing up in Asia, steamed buns, steamed cakes, and steamed dessert is the norm. Most households don’t own any oven, instead we have big multi-tiered steamers and prepare a lot of steamed food.
For Japanese food lovers and matcha lovers, you are going to love this Japanese matcha steamed buns. These are super easy and fast to prepare, and then into the steamer for about 12 minutes. They are light and fluffy, and I love these not too sweet steamed buns with my afternoon tea/coffee. ♥
Matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
From the title alone, you know you will need to procure some matcha (Japanese green tea powder). Since this is for baking, I usually use culinary grade matcha.
If you need a recommendation, you can use what I usually use, which is Maeda-En culinary grade matcha. Another good option is Ito En matcha for those with Costco membership since you can get this huge packet for about $20+.
But, as good as the Costco deal sounds, only do this if you plan to cook/bake/drink matcha often, since the life span of matcha is actually pretty short since the powder tends to loose its fragrance and bright green color overtime due to oxidation once you open the packet.
For those who needs gluten-free dessert, this matcha steamed buns might become your new favorite, since we are going to use rice flour instead of all-purpose flour.
I always use Erawan brand rice flour when making these steamed buns. In fact, for all of my recipes that call for rice flour, this is the only brand I use when I am in the States.
If you want to use other brands, especially those not originated from Asia, do so at your own risk since I have no experience with those.
Silicon baking cups
I steam these matcha steamed buns in silicon baking cups. This recipe doesn’t yield a whole lot of steamed buns, only 5, which is about the perfect amount of steamed buns when I am having tea for two with my hubby. 🙂
You need a steamer to make steamed buns, and here are my tips for successfull steaming:
Be sure the bottom pot has at least one inch of water since we don’t want the water the dry out mid steaming.
Be sure the water is already boiling and there is plenty of steam before we start steaming the buns.
Be sure to set the stove hot enough that steam should always be visible while steaming. I usually set mine to medium high.
For those not using bamboo steamers, be sure to wrap the steamer lid with a kitchen towel to reduce the chance of water condensation drops on the steamed buns when you open the steamer lid. Any water from the lid that drops on the steamed buns will create wrinkly buns, and those spots will turn darker and chewier, so we really want to avoid that.
The very first cake I learn to bake is a butter cake. In the US, it is more common to refer to a butter cake as a pound cake. There is never a wrong time to enjoy a good pound cake, with its buttery taste and soft and tender texture in every bite.
This pound cake recipe is the most classic version, using nothing but butter, eggs, sugar, and all-purpose flour. The only update it gets is the addition of matcha (Japanese green tea powder) to give it a new exciting twist, with an elegant green tea flavor and a lovely green color.
Ingredients for a matcha pound cake
Do you know why a pound cake is called a pound cake? It’s because originally, the recipe for this cake calls for 1 pound of each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.
We are going to make a half-recipe or half of a traditional pound cake, and we will bake the cake in an 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pan. Most classic pound cake recipes usually will ask you to bake the cake in two 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pans.
We will need these ingredients:
2 sticks (250 gram, or 1/2 lb) unsalted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 gram, or 7 oz) sugar
2 cups (240 gram, or 8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
Unsalted vs. Salted Butter
I am using unsalted butter because that’s what I usually have in my kitchen. You can also use salted butter too, but remember to omit the salt.
I love a slightly less sweet cake, and hence the amount of sugar I use is not 250 gram (1/2 lb), but only 200 gram (7 oz). If you love a sweeter cake, feel free to increase the sugar to 250 gram (1/2 lb) instead.
All-Purpose Flour vs. Cake Flour
If you want a lighter cake texture, you can use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Also, if you are a novice baker, or if this is the very first time you are baking a pound cake, using a cake flour usually guarantees a higher success rate to get that light cake texture.
Matcha (Japanese Green Tea Powder)
Depends on the brand of matcha you use, you may end up with a different shade of green. The best ones are usually reserved for tea ceremony, and some sometimes indicate it as such in the packaging. If you don’t know which one to get, I highly recommend giving Maeda-En matcha a try.
Weigh your ingredients with a scale
I know I give the ingredients with a volume (cup) measurement and also a weight measurement. But for a better success rate, I strongly encourage weighing the ingredients with a scale.
Baking needs some precision, and even a cheap scale helps to give a consistent baking results every time, saving you time and money while helping you avoid failed recipes and wasted ingredients.
Just to give an example, the correct way to measure flour by volume is to first fluff/loosen the flour in its container, then use a spoon to scoop into the measuring cup, and finally use a knife to level the flour across the cup.
Unfortunately, most people simply dip their measuring cup into the flour container and scoop out the flour. On average, you will end up with 50% more flour than you need if this is what you do!
The easiest way to avoid this is to simply buy a scale. Even if you will only be baking once a month, having a scale will help tremendously.
Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature
Room temperature has a range between 20-23 Celsius or 70-75 Fahrenheit.
I store my sugar, salt, flour, and matcha in my pantry cupboard, so they are always at room temperature. The only ingredients I need to make sure are at room temperatures are my butter and eggs.
Room temperature butter
To check that your butter is at room temperature, use your index finger to make an indentation. If you can’t create any indentation, it’s still too hard. If the indentation doesn’t keep its shape, it’s too soft. When butter is at room temperature, you should be able to make an indentation, and the shape holds.
Why is room temperature butter so important? It’s because you will be able to cream the butter easily, and you can incorporate the most air into the butter while creaming the butter. Not enough air in butter will lead to a dense cake.
Room temperature eggs
Making sure the eggs are at room temperature will ensure you can incorporate the most air and helps the eggs retain that air once they are mixed into the batter. Again, the idea is to avoid ending up with a dense cake.
Preparing a pound cake batter
A classic pound cake doesn’t rely on baking powder or baking soda, and thus, it is crucial to be correct and exact when you mix the ingredients. The only thing that determines the success of your pound cake is whether or not you incorporate enough air in the batter.
1. Cream the butter
Using a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, cream the room temperature butter until it’s light, fluffy, and creamy. Be sure to use a medium speed (at most!), so you can slowly incorporate air into the butter. It should take around 7-8 minutes just to cream the butter.
2. Add sugar
Once the butter is fluffy, add the sugar. Be sure to add sugar in a thin steady stream. Dumping all the sugar at once will deflate the butter while adding them in a thin steady stream will cream the butter and sugar together evenly while adding even more air.
3. Add eggs
Again, we want to make sure we don’t deflate the batter, so be sure to add the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. This usually means around 30 seconds per egg, or until the egg yolk has disappeared, before adding the next egg.
Once the final egg is fully incorporated, stop beating the mixture. Over-beating eggs will make your cake collapse after baking!
4. Add flour, salt, and matcha
Sift together all-purpose flour, salt, and matcha. Do this for 3 times to ensure an evenly distributed matcha. And if possible, sift the dry ingredients into the cake batter.
If you want to keep using your hand-held mixer or stand mixer, be sure to use the lowest speed setting, and only mix until the flour is incorporated, and not any second longer.
If at all possible, use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients.
It is absolutely important you don’t overwork the gluten in the flour, or you will end up with a tough and dense pound cake.
Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour can help tremendously to ensure a lighter cake.
Baking the pound cake
Make sure your oven has been preheated to 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes prior to baking the cake. If possible, use an oven temperature so you know you are using the correct temperature.
With the correct temperature, the cake should be fully baked in 70 minutes. If your cake ends up too dry, your oven may be too hot. And if it’s still not done after 70 minutes, your oven temperature may be too low.
Metal vs. glass cake pan
I am using a light color aluminum cake pan. A darker color metal pan usually will bake faster, so be sure to check about 10 minutes earlier for doneness.
If you use a glass pan, you may want to lower the temperature by 25 Fahrenheit. So instead of 350 Fahrenheit, you will want to bake the cake in a 165 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit) oven instead. And you may need to bake the cake longer, for another 10 minutes.
Level the cake batter
Be sure to grease and flour the loaf pan before adding the cake batter. Spread the cake batter evenly in the pan, and all the way to the corners as well. Also, be sure to smooth the top.
Tenting the cake
If during baking, the cake seems to be browning too quickly, feel free to tend the cake by cutting a piece of aluminum foil and place it on top of the cake. Especially during the final 15 minutes of baking.
Serving the cake
Once the cake has finished baking, remove the cake from the oven. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 minutes, then run a thin blade along the edges to loosen the cake, and carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.
Pound cake matures over time. So if you are patience, you will be rewarded with a more flavorful cake if you wait until the second or the third day to slice and serve the cake. Store the whole fully cooled cake wrapped in a saran plastic in the fridge prior to slicing and serving.
For longer storage, wrap the cake in several layers of saran plastic and freeze for up to 3 months.
I usually enjoy my pound cake plain, with a glass of black coffee. But if you wish, you can serve your pound cake with some lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
Tips and Tricks
Using a different size pan
You can bake the cake in a 9.5″x5.5″ pan, but the cake will bake faster. Be sure to check on the cake after 45-50 minutes.
Make a marble pattern
If you wish, you can divide the butter, sugar, and egg batter into two. Add only all-purpose flour and salt into the first batter, and then add all-purpose flour, salt, and matcha into the second batter. You can create a marble matcha pound cake using these two different colored batters.
First, pour half of the plain batter into the prepared pan, follow with half of the matcha batter, then again half of the plain batter, and finally, the remaining half of the matcha batter. Swirl with a skewer/chopstick and you should end up with a marbled pattern pound cake.
Separate egg yolks and egg whites for a lighter cake
For a lighter cake, separate the eggs before you begin. Once you beat the butter and sugar, beat in just the egg yolks. Separately whisk the egg whites until stiff peak, then fold the egg whites into the butter, sugar, egg yolk mixture until combined.
Adding baking powder
For an added insurance, you can add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients. But if you beat the butter, sugar, and eggs properly, you shouldn’t need to resort to adding baking powder for a light pound cake.
If you do everything properly and correctly, and then you add the baking powder, your cake may overflow from the cake pan! So if you really want to add the baking powder, I highly suggest using a 9.5″x5.5″ loaf pan instead. Just be sure to check for doneness earlier.