Green Tea Afternoon Cake

This is the non-baker’s version of green tea layer cake. The original recipe called for two extra steps to make frosting, but I didn’t want to buy all those extra ingredients to make this sweeter than I really wanted it to be. I wanted this cake to be more like an afternoon snack–with hot tea–rather than a dessert.

I didn’t have cake flour, so I texted Haewon from purplepops to ask what would make an okay substitute. When I got home from the store, I measured exactly 1 cup of all-purpose flour, flattened the top, removed exactly 2 tbsps from it, then replaced it with 2 tbsps of cornstarch.

I had to read about this substitute to understand how and why it would work. According to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, cake flour has been treated and “strongly bleached” with chlorine gas. This causes the starch granules to absorb water and swell more readily to disperse the fat more evenly. This invention “allowed U.S. food manufacturers to develop ‘high-ratio’ packaged cake mixes, in which the sugar can outweigh the flour by as much as 40%.” The cornstarch replacement restrains the formation of gluten and avoids the cake from being tough and chewy.

I did notice that this cake is lighter, more velvety and more em-oh-eye-es-tee, even though I initially thought it was because of the yogurt. So maybe there is a case to buying my own package of cake flour after all, or at the least, substituting it the frugal–but exact–way.

Speaking of substitutes, I used the Maeda-en brand of green tea powder I bought from my local Japanese store. I gather you can open green tea bags and use those, too, or finely ground the dried green tea leaves you already have. I know I’ll be doing just that when I try the earl grey version of this cake.

This recipe made 2 small loaf pans and 3 minis. The one you see in the photograph above is a ceramic loaf pan that’s a mere 4 inches on the longer end: really cute. The small pan took about 40 minutes to bake, while the minis I put in for 30. It goes without saying that they’re great with a cup of hot green tea on a dreary afternoon.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons powdered green tea
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease the loaf pans.
2. Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour (or substitute), baking soda, salt, and green tea powder. Set aside.
3. Using your electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before slicing to serve.

Recommended tool/s:
Purplepops for mad inspiration
Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking also carries the Maeda-en green tea powder I used