Not so Japanese Layered Matcha Cake

Sometimes you have to change your plans. And I am a huge plan changer. Especially when it comes to recipes. The fact that I cannot stick to recipes is one of the main reasons why I develop my own. And I think changing plans, being flexible, or having an alternative on hand is a big part of being vegan, too. Especially when it comes to non-vegan recipes.

When Amatō of Wagashi Maniac asked me to veganize one or two Japanese dessert recipes, I said yes, if I could have a look at the ingredients first. Not because I wanted to scan them for unusual ones, but because I wanted know exactly how many eggs were involved and what baking skills those desserts called for. After all, I have no clue about Japanese cooking and baking. I don’t know what to expect from a recipe and I have no idea how it should turn out.

Amatō sent me a translation of a matcha soufflé roll that looked beautiful. And called for four eggs. Which are not that difficult to replace. But the egg whites had to be separated and beat stiff. After all this was a soufflé roll. Egg white foam substitutes and jelly rolls are not a vegan’s best friend, at least not mine. I could have tried ordering a certain egg replacer online that is said to mimic egg white foam and probably would have solved my problems. I thought about that for a minute. But then I changed my plan. I have made a vegan sponge cake before and thought this might be a good starting point for the jelly roll.

Well maybe I should have ordered the egg replacer. In the end I was glad I didn’t. My cake didn’t turn into a  jelly roll, the sponge cake crumbled as soon as I tried to roll it up. But I wasn’t disappointed. I changed my plan once again and made a layer cake instead. This recipe  isn’t very close to the original version anymore. But that’s not a bad thing. The really good thing about vegan cuisine (ha, I said it!) is that you might start with a substitution but end up with a really great new item. I think one of the things I’ve learned from being vegan for four years is the fact that the question “but does this taste like the real thing?” is irrelevant. It probably doesn’t but it will still taste great. And it will probably be something new.

The original (non-vegan) recipe, which you can find here, calls for tsubu-an (anko), a sweet bean paste made from whole adzuki beans. I didn’t have that on hand so I asked Amatō for a substitute. She suggested sweet chestnut spread. Luckily I still had several cans of a French spread on hand, bought on our trip to France last year.

The original filling consists of whipped cream, matcha powder and tsube-an. I used a slightly adapted version of Amatō’s recipe for matcha and wasabon mousse instead.

Layered Matcha Cake

For the sponge cake:

3 tablespoons chickpea flour
180 ml (3/4 cup) hot water
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil
125 g (1 cup) German type 405 flour or pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
25 g (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
10 g (2 tablespoons) matcha powder

Line a 29 cm x 29 cm (11 x 11 inch) square pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°C). Sift chickpea flour into a bowl. Add hot water and whisk until you got rid of most lumps. Some small lumps are okay. Add sugar and oil and whisk constantly. Sift in flour, starch and matcha powder and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Make sure to distribute the batter evenly by using a dough scraper. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the filling:

Adapted from this recipe

120 g (1 cup) cashews, soaked for a couple of hours
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) almond or soy milk
1/2 cup (110 g) refined coconut oil
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

Combine cashews and non-dairy milk in a food processor or blender. Purée until very smooth. In a small pot, melt coconut oil over low heat. Add soy milk mixture and whisk in powdered sugar. sprinkle agar-agar on top, whisk, and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture has thickened. If it is not that thick yet, don’t worry. Most of the thickening will take place as the mixture cools. Let cool completely. The mass will become very solid and a bit rubbery. Now transfer it to your food processor and process until smooth.

Cake assembly:
1 100g (3.5 oz) can chestnut spread
powdered sugar

Spread the cake with a thin layer of chestnut spread. Carefully cut it into four equal strips. Take the first layer of your cake and spread with filling. Place another layer on top, spread with filling, repeat with the other layers. Make sure you have enough filling for each layer but also for the sides of the cake. After you have assembled your cake use the leftover filling to carefully ice the sides. Sift some powdered sugar on top. (You can also use a mixture of matcha powder and sugar.) Place the cake in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.

31 thoughts on “Not so Japanese Layered Matcha Cake

  1. This looks beautiful and delicious and is totally going to be my weekend project. What purpose does the chickpea flour serve in this recipe? I’m also in Dresden…Do you know if BioCompany (or even one of the more mainstream grocery stores) carries it?

    1. Hello Christine! It’s used as an egg substitute and you can find it at Biosphäre for sure. BioCompany probably carries as well and so does the REWE on Königsbrücker Straße.

  2. Huhu,

    du hast nicht zufällug eine Ahnung, ob man in Deutschland auch diesen “Chestnut spread” bekommen kann, oder?
    Ansonsten versuche ich mein Glück mal mit Anko aus der Dose, auch wenn das geschmacklich wahrscheinlich wesentlich langweiliger und zu süß sein dürfte :/
    Und weißt du vielleicht, ob man statt Kokosnussöl (teuer) auch Kokosfett (bspw. Palmin) nehmen kann?

    1. Man kriegt den Kastanienaufstrich hier. Bei uns zum Beispiel in einem französischen Laden. Ansonsten bestimmt auch im Internet. Und ich verwende immer Kokosfett. (Allerdings kein Palmin, sondern aus dem Bioladen. Ist aber bis auf die gehärteten Fettsäuren das gleiche. Im Englischen gibt es leider keinen Unterschied zwischen Kokosöl und Kokosfett.)

  3. I must have missed this blog post because I was in Berlin when you published it but that looks SO beautiful & delicious. I cannot wait to get my hands on some matcha powder so that I can make this cake & your matcha coconut chocolate macaroons.

  4. That looks really yummy! I’ve so far only made matcha shakes, but baking with it is next on my list. I agree with you on all your points about veganism and substitution; sometimes you really do end up with something better.

  5. Your cake looks beautiful! I love it when things go wrong and you can turn potential disaster into something equally as delicious (not so great when you can’t!). I’d love to try it, but the only place I’ve found matcha powder is really really expensive. Is it always? Or is it just because it’s from a commercial company?

  6. This may have started as a Japanese cake, but you may just have invented the perfect St. Patrick’s Day cake! I just love the way it looks. I suppose now I’ll have to go to France so I can make a cake just like this one. :D

  7. I think your cake is very Japanese , you really got the “spirit”(for me it almost looks like a wagashi sweet).
    To be honest, I’m a little angry on myself, this recipe is really not easy to veganise, but I somehow thought it is, because the original uses oil instead of butter – you see, I really don’t know much about vegan baking yet…

    I think it tastes even better than the original, your sponge looks much more souffle-like, I love the 3 layers(like an “opera cake”). :-)

      1. Both of your cakes DO look perfect, vegan or not. :) Baking is a huge challenge for everyone, not only for beginners. I have never tried to veganize a “Biskuitrolle” and maybe this is one of the few things which are just not very veganizable. So what? A layer-cake looks just as delicious. :) One thought just popped into my head, though: have you thought about using silken tofu as an egg replacer? It’s said to be awesome in custards and tofu omelette, which is usually folded, is made with it, so maybe it works for vegan dough that is supposed to be rolled?! I’m not a very experienced baker and have never veganized a complicated recipe that calls for more than two eggs, so this is just a small suggestion… :)

        1. Thanks for the suggestion! Silken tofu works really well if you want moist baked goods. It won’t provide much flexibility though. In this case, ener-g egg replacer probably would have worked best.

  8. Wow, this sounds lush! Green tea and chesnuts? Who knew! I agree that is the great thing about vegan food- takes traditional flavor combos and turns them on their heads!

  9. I love how you took inspiration from the original, and creatively turned it into something new that looks stunning – and delicious!

  10. For someone who isn’t familiar with Japanese cooking and baking, you definitely know how to make a beautiful matcha cake! :D The bright green layers are quite striking against the white chestnut spread. I’m sure anko would make another lovely color contrast and flavor pairing. I will certainly be trying this recipe at some point, although probably with anko, because I make it all the time and have a difficult time locating chestnut paste. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I thought your match macroons were solid, now you make a matcha cake!! It looks awesome. :)

  12. This is such a pretty cake! Bravo on making creative decisions out of what some people would settle on as failures. You’ve made a vegan work of art. I’d love to try this. :)

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