Here’s a show-stopper of a cake that you can easily make ahead of time. The cake layers will freeze, so you could thaw and slice them before assembling the whole thing on the day you plan to serve it. The filling, however, does need to be freshly made. If you refrigerate it, it will go hard and you won’t be able to spread it.
- 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
- 2½ tbsp matcha powder (see Note)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 200 g (2 cups) almond meal
- 6 eggs
- 185 g (1 ½ cups) icing sugar, sifted
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 115 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- ½ tsp green food colouring, or to taste
- fresh flowers, to decorate (optional)
- 400 g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 185 g (1½ cups) icing sugar, sifted
- 60 ml (¼ cup) pouring cream
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Lightly grease and flour the sides of three 20 cm cake tins then line the bases with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift together the flour, matcha powder, baking powder and almond meal into a bowl. Set aside.
Half fill a large saucepan with water, bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium, or so the water simmers. Combine the eggs and icing sugar in a bowl large enough to fit snugly over the saucepan of water. Using electric beaters, beat the mixture for 2-3 minutes or until combined well and creamy. Place the bowl over the simmering water then, whisking continuously with the electric beaters, whisk for 10 minutes or until the egg mixture is very thick and pale. Remove from the heat and whisk for another 3 minutes or until the mixture cools slightly.
Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl then, using electric beaters, whisk until soft peaks form. Whisking constantly, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and glossy and the sugar has dissolved then add the green colouring and mix well.
Scatter the almond meal mixture evenly over the warm egg mixture in the bowl and fold it though, taking care not to deflate the egg mixture too much. Add a third of the egg whites and stir to loosen, then fold in the remaining whites. Divide the mixture between the three tins, smoothing the tops even. Bake for about 30 minutes or until firm to touch and the cakes are pulling away from the sides of the tins. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes then carefully turn out on wire racks to cool completely.
Using a large serrated knife, cut each cake in half horizontally.
For the filing, beat the cream cheese using electric beaters until it is light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth then add the cream and beat until it is just incorporated, taking care not to over-beat the cream or the mixture could curdle.
Place one cake layer on a large cake stand or platter, cut side up, then evenly spread with some of the filling, making a layer about 5 mm thick. Place another cake half on top and spread with more of the filling; repeat layering cake and filling until all the layers of cake are used, placing the top layer of cake cut side down. Spread remaining filling mixture thinly over the side of the cake. Decorate with fresh flowers, if using, and serve.
• Matcha powder comes in a variety of grades; the more expensive ones are made using earlier picked leaves and the flavour is more delicate. Cheaper matcha is made using mature leaves and the taste is more astringent. “Kitchen” or “culinary” grade matcha (it’s usually labelled as such) tends to be slightly lower grade, but feel free to experiment to find the matcha for cooking you most like the taste of. Matcha is available from Japanese or more general Asian grocery stores.
Photography by Leanne Kitchen. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Dixie Elliott.