I used to really hate sharing the kitchen with someone else. What if they didn't measure exactly right? What if they over mixed the batter? What if they didn't add things in the order the recipe specified?? (Can you tell that I'm a bit of a perfectionist/control freak.) Thankfully I've gotten over this and learned to be more laid back about cooking/baking with someone else. Now I love baking with my friend because I'm a lot more willing to take risks, not follow recipes exactly, and to come up with new creative ideas (since I've taken the pressure off myself for everything to turn out perfectly). When I bake by myself, I still stick fairly closely to the recipe if not completely. (Though since baking with her, I have started to modify baking recipes more than I ever did on my own. Like using half whole wheat flour in a recipe that calls for all purpose, gasp!) Every once in a while we get together and have a baking day. This time we decided it would be a matcha (green tea powder) baking day!
Mmm perfectly rounded little tops.
It started out with her wanting to make these little Totoros, which we didn't end up making. (Totoro is a well known character from a Japanese animated film called My Neighbor Totoro.) We decided to go with chockylit's recipe for matcha cupcakes (and PS you should check out this amazingly beautiful and creative cupcake blog). Our brainstorming about cupcakes came up with (are you ready for this because it's a long title) matcha cupcakes with a coconut brown sugar crust and a coconut buttercream icing topped with a matcha shortbread star and sprinkled with shredded coconut. Whew.
Look at the way the butter soaked up the sides of the liners!
The actual cupcake turned out incredibly well. They were tasty with just the right amount of matcha, and it was a nice dense yet soft cake. I love dense (but still moist) cakes, so I was really happy with these. The crust definitely needs to be improved upon but it still tasted good. I put too much butter and sugar I think, because it wasn't very firm. (Maybe just butter and coconut next time with a tiny bit of sugar? I'll have to do some crust research.)
I insanely love how batters look. I really don't know why but batters are just so beautiful to me.
As for the icing, I really dislike the very buttery buttercream icings. The ones where it feels like you're just eating a stick of butter. Because of this, I was not eager to make a buttercream icing but we didn't know what to do to get a nice smooth thick icing that didn't have butter or cream cheese. I don't have much experience with icings so I was feeling kind of lost. We found a basic icing recipe that could be modified to be made into a buttercream icing (so we were going to make half regular and half buttercream). I ended up not liking the consistency of the regular icing (especially after adding too much milk, making the icing too liquidy and unable to hold any sort of form other than gloop). I started adding butter, hoping that would help stiffen up the icing and fix everything (which it didn't really). We also mixed in shredded coconut with the icing, making it look kind of lumpy and strange. Overall the icing was a bit of a mess but it tasted okay (though my friend thought I put way too much vanilla, but how can you have too much vanilla?? Mmm. Unless you're making peanut butter cookies.)
Then there were the matcha shortbread stars that we topped the cupcakes with. We used a recipe from a Martha Stewart cookie magazine from a few years ago. This recipe was not as successful as the cupcakes. I thought there was too much matcha powder which didn't balance well with the shortbread. But they looked cute atop the cupcakes so all was not lost!
Just for fun, my friend wanted to make faux matcha madeleines (since we love making all kinds of madeleines - well I should say that she got me into baking madeleines.) We put the matcha shortbread into a madeleine tin and I was really surprised that it came out perfectly, and deceptively looking just like a madeleine.
I'm not going to post a recipe for the crust or the icing because neither were real winners. I'm sure if you want to make these you can find another icing that would work better than the one I attempted. Though they're also yummy without icing.
Green Tea or "Matcha" Cupcakes
(Adapted from chocklyit's recipe at Cupcake Bakeshop)
1/2 sheet pan or 24 cupcakes
350 degree oven
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons matcha
1. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners or with butter.
2. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs/egg yolks one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to batter and mix to combine.
6. Mix matcha in with the milk. Add to the batter and mix until combine.
7. Pour into prepared muffin pan and smooth flat.
8. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.