One of the most popular recipes on my blog is my light and fluffy matcha sponge cake. It's nothing spectacular. Actually, it's quite the opposite of it. It uses just six ingredients, there's no garnish or fancy frosting, but the result is a beautifully soft and cushy, green tea cloud that begs for a glass of milk to dunk in.
Perhaps that's the appeal of it. Especially now when there's so much noise in our world, both good and bad, it's nice to know that just a handful of humble ingredients can transform into something that can give you so much joy.
Now, if you've tried making that green tea sponge cake already, you are ready for the next step. Sure you can just slice the cake from the original recipe into two and sandwich it with some cream. I've done that many times too and it's easily worthy of any birthday celebration.
But I've got something even better for you.
Why make a layer cake when you can make a stripe cake?
What is a stripe cake?
You know the answer to this already because you can see this in the top image of this post. I first came across the stripe cake a few years ago when I bought a copy of Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. There, the two came up with a stunning lemon and blackcurrant stripe cake which was nothing like anything I had seen before.
The idea is rather simple but genius nonetheless. Instead of cutting a round cake into layers, a thinner, rectangular sheet cake is cut into two identical long strips, which are frosted then rolled into a cylinder. The cylinder is then turned onto its side so that it is standing on the flat end.
How to assemble a stripe cake
The first time you read this, you will be baffled. I know. So here's a video I found of the two chefs making that exact cake, which you can use as a visual guide for making my matcha cake with fresh cream. The part where Helen starts working the sponge cake starts around 3:44.
There are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Once the cake is out of the oven, don't walk away too far. Let it rest for about 5 minutes then you will have to 'train' the cake.
Training it means to let the sponge get used to being rolled up so that it doesn't break later when it is rolled up for the final assembly. This needs to be done when it is still warm. Hence, after 5 minutes out of the oven, dust it with icing sugar (to prevent it from sticking) and cover it with a clean tea towel about the size of the pan. Flip it over and peel off the parchment. With the tea towel in place, start rolling up the sponge, along with the tea towel, starting from the shorter side of the rectangle. Let the tea towel and sponge roll rest to cool completely before you add the cream.
When it is cool, 'un-roll' the cake, carefully. Cut it along the middle, lengthwise, to create two long strips.
Spread the cream, add the fruit, then start rolling again. Once you've finished rolling one, join the exposed edge of the first cylinder with the second strip and continue rolling. The cylinder will grow in width.
To finish, you turn the cylinder onto one of its flat sides and cover the entire cake with more cream.
I used the same recipe for my matcha sponge cake, but instead of baking the batter in an 18cm round tin, I spread it out into my rectangular 27cm x 39cm tray and baked it for about 13 minutes.
How do you know when a cake is ready without opening the oven? When you can see that the cake is pulling away from the sides of the tray, it most likely is ready. If that's the case, take it out of the oven and press lightly with your fingers - if it feels springy, it is done. If it leaves an indent, stick it back into the oven for a couple of minutes.
Fluffy, Light Matcha Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Cream Recipe
This makes for a beautiful cake worthy of a special celebration next to some bubbles. My pan size resulted in a 14cm high, 15cm wide cake, but if your rectangular pan is any larger than the one that I used, I recommend doubling the recipe. I learnt about this stripe cake technique from Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's Sweet, and it involves rolling up the sponge while it is still warm to 'train' it into the shape, then unrolling and cutting it down the middle along the long side to create two strips. The strips are covered with cream and rolled up again to create the final cake. A good video of the two chefs making this cake can be found above, the visuals are helpful.
Don't be afraid of the number of steps in the recipe - check out the video to see how it is assembled, it's not difficult!
The matcha flavour of the sponge shines through the light whipped cream, and fresh berries add the perfect amount of sweet and acidity to the cake. Matcha, fresh cream and red berries are a classic combination found at any Asian bakery, but made into a stripe cake - it's seriously stunning.
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
120 g caster sugar
100 g flour
9 g matcha
50 ml milk
30 g butter
300 ml fresh whipping cream, very cold
2 tablespoons icing sugar for the cream plus more for dusting the sponge cake
large handful of fresh berries of choice, such as strawberries, raspberries
Make the sponge
Line a rectangular pan of 27cm x 39 cm with butter and parchment. Preheat oven to 170C.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour and matcha powder together. Set aside.
In a microwave bowl or a small pot over low heat, melt the butter with the milk. Let cool whilst you work on the rest.
In a large bowl (make sure it is super clean) take your egg whites and start beating on low, and gradually increase to med-high speed. You want to beat them to soft peaks, this may take a few minutes.
When the egg whites reach soft peaks, start adding the sugar in a stream - i.e. don't dump it all in, you will make your egg whites collapse! Keep beating on med-high until you get a glossy meringue with stiff peaks. Be patient, you're going to make it.
Now add the egg yolks, beat until combined.
Shift in all the flour and matcha mix to the egg whites, and fold gently to combine well.
Add a third of the melted butter and milk mixture and fold in. Follow with another third, fold, and repeat. Adding the liquid in one go will make it all sink to the bottom of the bowl. So take your time, but be confident.
Pour the cake mix into the prepared tray.
Place tray on the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake for about 13-15 minutes, when you press lightly with your finger it should spring back.
While the cake is baking - prepare the cream. Starting with very cold cream, whip until it starts looking foamy. Add the icing sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
Prepare the cake for assembly
When the cake is ready, take out of the oven and let it rest for about 3-5 minutes. While it is still warm to the touch, sprinkle it all over with icing sugar then cover it with a large, clean tea towel. Turn it over so that the cake is resting on the tea towel. Peel off the parchment paper.
With the shorter side of the rectangle towards you, start rolling the sponge cake with the tea towel attached to it. Be careful not to break the sponge. Let the cake rest, rolled up in the towel, until completely cool.
Once cool, unroll the sponge. Cut it along the centre of the cake so you end up with two, long, half-width strips. For example, my sponge was about 26cm x 35cm, and I will have two strips of about 13cm x 35cm.
Spread the cream all over the two sponges. Dot with fresh berries.
Starting with one strip, start rolling up the cake (in the same direction as it was 'trained' before), creating a rolled up sponge with cream, that is 13cm wide. The cylinder will be getting wider. Once you get to the end of the first strip, bring the end of this to the start of the second strip and continue rolling. Turn the cylinder on its side and let it stand on one of its flat ends.
To finish, cover the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with fresh berries on top.