My matcha dreamscape: a green tea-coconut layer cake

So before the cake replication challenge during MasterChef’s Sweet Week, we actually did get hints that we would be making a layer cake! So thinking we could make our own, I went ahead and thought up of a matcha and coconut layer cake. For the inspiration, I just imagined my trips to Taiwan and Japan, as the plane descends and I peek out the window in these vast, deep green fields. So that’s where the name came from. I went with layers of matcha spongecake with salted coconut milk soak, kaya center, matcha Italian meringue buttercream, and shards of either matcha chocolate or salted white chocolate with toasted coconut flakes. I would garnish the top with matcha vines as well as edible flowers, just to better represent the wind blowing around.

While I did not get to make my own cake in the actual show for the layer cake challenge, I definitely wanted to share the recipe here, because it was something that had a lot of thought put behind it anyways! For the German Chocolate Cake, it did not feel right to publish that recipe, since it was not mine, since it was a replication. And besides, why go for that traditional one when you have my modernized rendition already? But back to the cake recipe that is actually being posted! I went with a chiffon cake sponge, mostly because traditional American cake tends to turn brown when you use matcha powder, which is the chemical reaction caused from using baking soda, and I just hate that. As for the spare egg yolks that come with making chiffon, just so that they don’t go to waste, I went with kaya, a coconut jam found in Malaysia, which can either be like heavily reduced coconut, or a coconut custard. The salted coconut soaking liquid is inspired by the coconut milk you would eat with sticky rice and mango, since it is something I grew up on! Lastly, I went with an Italian meringue buttercream because it is light, airy, and not too sweet, while it holds its own form well. Personally, I despise buttercream, just because if you give me butter and sugar, the last thing I want to do is mush the two together, but in the few cases where I do make it, I prefer to go with a meringue based one, just for the lightness.

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For the matcha cake:
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons matcha powder
1 teaspoon spirulina powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Whisk together the egg whites with half of the sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Combine canola oil with matcha and spiraling first. Whip the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar, then stream in the infused canola oil. Sift flour. Fold everything together and pour onto a lined sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees F. Cool completely before turning out of the sheet tray. Use a 6 inch ring mold to cut out two perfect circles and create the third using the scraps.

For the coconut filling:
4 egg yolks
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip egg yolks with sugar and cornstarch. Temper with warmed salted coconut milk. Whisk on medium high heat until thickened and then pass through a strainer. Cool completely before using.

For the coconut soaking liquid:
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and warm up until salt is dissolved. Cool down.

For the matcha Italian meringue:
2 egg whites
12 tablespoons unsalted butter(1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons matcha powder
a pinch of salt

Bring water and 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar to a simmer. Whip the 1 tablespoon of sugar into the egg whites to form soft peaks. Stream in the sugar syrup into the egg whites while whipping, then add in the butter, little by little, on a low speed, until incorporated. Once the butter and egg whites have emulsified, season with salt and slowly whip in the matcha.

For the chocolate shards:
1 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cups toasted coconut flakes*
2 teaspoons salt*
3 tablespoons matcha powder**
1 teaspoon salt*

*for the coconut shards
**for the matcha shards

Temper your white chocolate over a double boiler. Season with salt (and matcha if making the matcha version). Spread onto acetate and either sprinkle with the coconut flakes(if making the coconut version), then cool in the refrigerator until set. Break up into long shards.

For the chocolate vines:
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Temper the white chocolate on a double boiler with the other ingredients. Transfer to a piping bag and gently pipe into ice water to form the vines. Keep cold, but dry.

For the white chocolate disks:
1 cup white chocolate(in 2 parts)
1 teaspoon pitaya powder
1 tablespoon butterfly pea powder
a pinch of salt

Temper 1 part of the white chocolate on a double boiler. Color with the pitaya powder and season with salt. Spread on either acetate or parchment and allow to set for 10 minutes at room temperature. Using a 1 inch ring mold, cut out circles then transfer to the freezer harden. Repeat these steps with the remaining chocolate and the butterfly pea powder. Carefully remove the disks, and melt down the leftover chocolate from both batches together and spread again on parchment or acetate. Allow to set at room temperature for another 10 minutes before cutting out more 1 inch disks and transferring that chocolate to the freezer.

For the coconut snow:
1 teaspoon coconut oil; at room temperature
1/4 cup tapioca maltodextrin
a pinch of salt

Blitz together.

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