Matcha no. 8

Few things can win me over when I have a dark, dense slice of chocolate cake in my hands. The midnight smokiness of cocoa is just too seductive, and yet there is one other that makes my heart skip beat when it catches my eye: matcha. In many ways it is cocoa’s green cousin. In terms of flavour, matcha’s dusky bitterness rivals that of cocoa. Employment-wise, both being fine, dry powders, may be used interchangeably in cheesecakes, lattes, and truffles (the list goes on).

After the jolly holidays, and gatherings complete with portly servings of smoked duck, pork belly confit, and lamb stew, I figured I’d better take at least January easily. For four days, now, I’ve been vegan. I don’t chain myself to a trend, but I eat what naturally makes me feel good, or clean.

For that matter, I’ve made myself two vegan little cakes. To let you in on a few sweet details, there’s eight layers, made from three components: matcha sponge, adzuki paste, and tofu cream. The tofu cream, a recipe by Young Mo Kim (Korea’s Father of baking), is light and airy, much like freshly whipped cream, though I assure you, it is 100% natural and vegan. One thing I’ve noticed about his recipes, is that he adores the use of lemon, both peel and juice. This cake is without a doubt the best matcha cake I know, but I humbly advise you to keep an open mind, because this cake has nothing cliche about it; and the surprise starts at the very tip of the icing.

ImageIngredients for the tofu cream adapted from recipe by Young Mo Kim

800g traditional tofu

200g water

80g agave nectar

50g corn syrup

2g sea salt

5g agar powder

30g grape seed oil

5g vanilla extract

zest and juice of one lemon

To make the tofu cream:

Poach the tofu gently in simmering water for 10 to 15 minutes. Lift the tofu into a cheese cloth and put something heavy on it to press out the excess moisture. Meanwhile, put the 200g water, agave nectar, syrup, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Whisk in the agar powder until fully dissolved, add the oil and vanilla then set aside.

Break the tofu with your fingers into a blender and puree until smooth. With the motor running, gradually pour in the agar mixture, lemon juice, and zest until blended. Pour this into a large glass bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and chill until set, about four hours.

Transfer the solidified mixure into a food processor and whiz it to a cream. This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Ingredients for the matcha sponge:

150g all purpose flour

70g whole wheat flour

10g matcha powder

12g baking powder

60g grape seed oil

150g agave nectar

zest and juice of one lemon

2g sea salt

200g unsweetened soy milk

5g vanilla extract

To make the matcha sponge, preheat the oven to 392 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven. Line half sheet pan with parchment.

Sift the flours, matcha, and baking powder into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, agave, lemon juice, zest, salt, soy milk, and vanilla until emulsified. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir just to combine.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely. The cake may be assembled up to two days later if kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Assembly

1 half sheet pan matcha sponge

240g sweet adzuki bean paste, at room temperature

400g tofu cream

To make the yuzu soak, mix together 1 tbsp yuzu tea preserves with 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp warm water.

Cut out six squares of the matcha sponge using a square mousse mold (11x11cm). Put the mold onto a cake stand and place in it a piece of the sponge, right side up.

Brush the top with the yuzu soak. Spread a thin layer of adzuki paste over the cake, then cover with a thin layer of the tofu cream. Repeat all procedures with the second cake layer. Top with a third cake layer, then finish with the tofu cream.

Do this with the other three squares of matcha sponge. The recipe will make two completed cakes.

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