Friday, May 24, 2013

matcha vertical swiss roll

Today's post is my ode to green tea, beloved of my tea cup and my palate, and it will be one crammed with pictures to facilitate the making of this involved cake. I cannot live without green tea, but don't take my word for it. The proof's in this baumkuchen, this chicken noodle soup like no other, almond sables, this stupendously easy and delicious bee tai bak in green tea and last week's luscious matcha shorbread.I have green tea on the brain. Hence, the back to back matcha posts.

This cake is not difficult, though it looks a little intimidating, but it's at least a half-day undertaking because there's a lot of waiting for this or that to set or gel or consolidate. But take heart, I made this in almost impossibly hot and humid weather, without pulling my hair out, so, if I can, you can.

You may feel dizzy after what will seem like endless rolling, rolling, ROLLING (six times) and you may  even feel a wee bit cheated, when you end up with a cake barely 7 inches (17. 5 cm) across for your considerable efforts, but, when you cut your first slice and behold its splendour, I'm willing to wager, you will forget to breath, for about three seconds, before you are overcome with a sense of wonder that you actually made that goddamed gorgeous cake in front of you.

I had to make the sponge twice, as I realised too late that one layer wouldn't be enough to make a sizeable cake. First time around, I separated the yolks and whites (see the picture with the meringuey looking batter?) but second time around, I felt lazy and more than a bit annoyed that I didn't have the foresight to see that a 6-egg batch of sponge batter wouldn't go far enough, so I skipped the additional step of separating the eggs. The sponge in the second round came out softer, higher and fluffier (egads!) and was a heck of a lot easier to make.

But, as with all in life, there's a purpose to everything. I screw up, so you don't have to ;) Don't waste your time separating the little buggers. Just be stingy and lighthanded with the strokes when folding in the flour and use the detached balloon whisk attachment, or a large hand held balloon whisk to fold, instead of a spoon or spatula. Why the term "folding"? Because when correctly done, the motion of cutting diagonally into the egg mixture and incorporating the flour is akin to (very deliberately and painstakingly) folding fabric. Use your imagination. It helps.

It's probably down to some highfalutin principle of physics, but I'm no physicist, so I'll just tell you the whisk gets the flour into the whisked eggs faster, gentler and better, without knocking out all that precious air your standmixer whacked into the eggs. The cream of tartar also helps - it has a neutralising effect on the fatty yolks (fat is the arch nemesis of fluffy meringue) and stabilises the egg foam so it won't disintegrate at the slightest touch.

There's no need for any raising agent. Just whisk the life out of those eggs and yes, this is what I've been building up to;  if you don't have at least a hand held electric mixer (standmixer definitely preferred) don't even bother to read the recipe.

But,  please, feel free to defy me and take up your hand held ballon whisk, if you are made of sterner stuff. You will be richly rewarded with a verdantly elegant and irresistibly delicious cake that will get you unbelieving "oohs" and "ahs" when you cut it open and hand out the beautifully linear slices.

For maximum effect, and the loudest "ooohs", cover and chill the cake at least 6 hours (overnight is best) before cutting and use a really sharp and big straight edged knife. If you can manage it, once the cake is all rolled up, sandwiced with the circular sponge base and neatly trimmed, wrap it in double layers of cling film and freeze for 1 - 2 hours before unwrapping and frosting. This will prevent a cake that bulges out at the sides like a barrel. Happy baking and let the good times ROLL!

matcha vertical swiss roll

prep 6 hrs          cook 12 mins          serves 6 - 8

filling and frosting

225 g (2 1/2 cups) icing (powdered or confectioner's sugar)
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp matcha (powdered green tea)
75 g (1/2 cup) softened butter
60 g (3/4 cup) milk powder
450 g (3 cups) cold cream cheese (Philly cheese is best)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp clear pandan flavour (optional)

Sift the icing sugar and matcha together at least twice. Set aside.

In standmixer bowl combine butter and milk powder and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until well mixed and creamy.

Add the cream cheese, vanilla and pandan (if using) and beat until smooth and fluffy. This will take barely a minute.  Beat in the sugar and matcha mixture in 2 or 3 lots on low speed. As soon as frosting is well combined and an even green colour, stop mixer. Do not beat beyond this point or the cream cheese will break down and the frosting will become runny. Transfer frosting to a covered container and chill until needed.

The following recipe will yield 3 cakes and requires an extra large oven or 3 racks in a regular sized oven. If you have only one regular oven with two racks, follow the recipe amounts at the end of the post.

sponge cake

180 g (1 3/4 cups) plain or all purpose flour
20 g (7 level tsp) matcha

10 eggs (60 g or slightly over 2 ozs each)
200 g (1 1/3 cups) fine grain sugar
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp light vegetable oil 
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp clear pandan flavour (optional)

Extra matcha for dusting

Preheat oven at 190 C (375 F). Grease and line two 25 cm (10 in) by 33 cm (13 in) baking trays or Swiss roll (jelly roll) pans and one 20 cm (8 in) round layer pan.

Sift together the flour and matcha three times. Set aside.

Combine eggs, sugar and cream of tartar in mixing bowl of a large standmixer (for sponge batters using more than 8 eggs, I use my Kenwood Major mixer). Whisk on medium-high speed for about 8 minutes using the balloon whisk attachment or until mixture is very pale and mousselike and ribbons of the mixture hold their shape on the surface of the mixture in the bowl, when dropped from the whisk.

Fold the flour and matcha mixture into the egg mixture in three lots, using the detached balloon whisk or a hand held balloon whisk. Do this lightly and quickly until well incorporated.

Combine the milk, oil, vanilla and pandan flavour in a cup and pour this mixture down the side of the bowl. Fold in with the whisk as above. 

Gently scoop 1 2/3 cups batter into the round layer pan and tilt gently to level batter. Divide remaining batter between the two rectangular pans and pans to level batter. Bang each pan sharply once on table or counter top to release large air bubbles and place pans in oven. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes. After 12 minutes, check centre of each cake with a fine skewer. If done, remove from oven. Do not overbake or cakes will crack when rolled.

Cool cakes for 10 minutes then run a blunt edged knife around edges of cakes before turning out onto large sheets of parchment paper. If you use regular greaseproof paper, the skin of the cakes will stick and you may have difficulty rolling and frosting them. 


Gently peel off paper from cakes and leave until cold. Using a sharp serrated knife, trim of edges of rectangular cakes keeping them straight. Divide each rectangular lenghtwise into 3 equal strips (use a ruler if necessary) to make a total of 6 strips.

Remove frosting from fridge and transfer about 2 1/2 - 3 cups to a bowl. Work frosting lightly with a spatula cover until spreadable and cover each sponge strip with a thin layer of frosting. Use a tea strainer to dust each strip lightly with matcha. 

Starting from the short end of the first strip, roll up firmly like a Swiss roll. Spread a little frosting at the seam of the first roll and join to second strip. Roll up as before and apply frosting at the seam before joining to the third strip and rolling up to the end. Repeat  and join and roll with the fourth, fifth and sixth strip to form a large roll. Don't forget to spread a little frosting at the seam of the main roll each time, before joining to the next strip. Set roll aside.

Spread a layer of frosting on the round cake and place the roll, swirl side down onto the round cake. Trim off the edges of the round cake to fit the base of the roll. Wrap cake up securely in two layers of cling wrap and freeze cake for 1 - 2 hours. 

Unwrap cake and place on a flat plate. Slip small squares of parchment or greaseproof paper under perimeter of the cake (not too deeply or you will have trouble pulling them out after frosting cake) to keep plate clean. Cover cake with a thin layer of frosting. It doesn't have to be neat. Just be sure to cover cake entirely. Freeze cake for 1 hour.

Cover cake with a thicker, even layer of frosting. Neaten top and sides with a large pastry scraper. Using a tea strainer, dust top of cake evenly with matcha. Cover cake and chill for 6 hours or overnight before slicing with a large, sharp straight edged knife.

Recipe amounts for bakers with one regular oven and two racks or only one rectangular pan. Pan sizes are the same as above. No changes necessary for frosting amounts.

first batch (divided between one of the rectangular pans and the single round layer pan)

100 g (1 cup) plain or all purpose flour
12 grams (4 tsp) matcha

6 eggs
120 g (3/4 cup) fine sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp light vegetabl oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp clear pandan flavour

Follow method as above and transfer 1 2/3 cups batter to the round layer pan. Transfer remaining batter to one of the rectangular pans. Bake and assemble as above.

second batch (baked in the remaining rectangular pan)

80 g (3/4 cup) plain or all purpose flour
8 grams (3 tsp) matcha

4 eggs
80 g (1/2 cup) fine sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

11/2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp light vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp clear pandan flavour

Follow method as above. Bake in one single rectangular baking pan. Assemble as above.


  1. Beautiful and impressive. And I am sure it taste heavely delicious as I loves anything green tea.

  2. You have rendered me speechless ! I have never before seen a cake quite like this one . Gorgeous !
    Bravo, Denise.

  3. Nice matcha cake, Denise! Feel like heading to Tampines now...... hahaha!

  4. looks really pretty and delicious! thanks for the step by step, it's really useful to visualise the entire process. :)

  5. this is masam manis idea how to make vertical cake

    1. If you read my post, you will realise I did not claim to be the creator of this type of cake. I dont know who first thought up this idea but its been around the internet for a while now and also appeared in cookbooks.If masam manis did this, I did not see it and was not inspired by it hence I did not attribute masam manis. I dont appreciate your accusatory tone and most of all, the fact that you are doing it anonymously. If you leave anymore such comments on my blog, they will be deleted.

  6. Wow! my favorite matcha cake! This is also first I saw swiss roll in vertical style, very special. Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. Hi Denise! This looks too beautiful to be eaten! ... and the steps too challenging for my big hands! :D

  8. OMG, Denise, I don't think I could wait 6 hours or overnight for the cake to set. It's absolutely beautiful and I'm sure it tastes divine, with the combo of green tea and pandan. Mmmmmmm....YUM!

    1. Hi Dora!!!! OMG, where have you been??? Anyway, great to see you again :) I have cake OCD lah. When I slice cake and it doesn't come out perfect, I break out in hives LOL Chronic OCD. Gone case, no hope. Waiting 6 hours is a small price to pay :) Yes, if you like pandan or green tea (and of course I LURVE both) then this is definitely the cake for you. Now that you're back, DON"T BE A STRANGER!! Yes, I'm wagging my finger at you....

    2. ROTFL
      Yes, ma'am, what can I say, ma'am... er...sorry I've been plucked away from the face of this earth. LOL! Blame it on Yahoo! I haven't been getting any notification on my email account for a long time. Thought the world is really silent... until WHAM, saw this gorgeous looking cake and I'm so behind *shame* I've been wanting to ask you this - I'd like to get hold of your cookbook(s) complete with your million dollar autograph. Let me know how..


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