Matcha Strawberry Genoise Cake

Matcha (green tea) genoise cake layered with strawberry jam and cream cheese whipped cream.  The cream cheese adds some bulk, stability, and a touch of tang to traditional whipped cream.  A modern twist on a classic sponge cake!  

Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.

True story: when I had the opportunity to go to Japan in 2008, I didn't really know what matcha was.  At the time, I had just deiced to turn my hobby of baking and pasty into a career.  I wanted to use the experience to take home some new inspiration from all of the cutting-edge pastries as well as traditional Japanese sweets.  Before heading home, I threw in a tin of matcha into my suitcase – the packaging and instructions entirely in Japanese characters.

That tin of matcha ended up sitting in the back of my pantry for at least a year or two.  I knew how to order a matcha latte, but I had no idea what to do the matcha powder in my own kitchen.  Like I mentioned before, the packaging was in a langue that I didn't understand.  Funnily enough, by the time I got around to baking with it, I didn't need "instructions," or at least not for its typical use (making tea).

Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.
Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.

Since then, matcha and I have gotten to know each other quite well.  I've used it in macarons, cake, and even ganache in my new book.  So fast-forward 8 years since out first meeting, and I've combined matcha with a classic genoise for a new, modern twist.  Aaaaaand, it just so happens that it's cherry blossom season in Japan right now, so it found it very appropriate to make this cake for spring!

A genoise cake, you ask?  I know I've already thrown in some possibly new words like "matcha," but how about a another to add to your vocab too?  Even though genoise is used in a lot of french pastries, it is actually Italian, named after the city Genoa.  It is very similar to a classic sponge cake, using only whipped eggs to lift and lighten the cake, meaning without chemical learners, but with butter instead of oil. 

In all honesty, genoise cake is kind of a pain to make – especially for something kind of, well, plain.  I think "mild" and "versatile" might be more appropriate words for the fancy-pants sponge cake.  It's not very sweet nor flavorful, yet that does make for the perfect cake layer in a pastry or something that can take on a multitude of other flavors (matcha, in this case).  

22.  22 is the number of eggs I wen though when recipe testing.  The first two batches did not blend well enough, resulting in cake layers that were split: dense, rubbery cake on the bottom and light, flavourless cake on top.  The butter did not incorporate well enough (I was too afraid to over-mix the perfectly whipped eggs) and it sunk to the bottom of the pan.  Of course I questioned if this finicky sponge cake was even worth it, but I was determined to master the classic pastry.  In the end, decreasing the amount of butter, sifting in the dry ingredients, and mixing a bit of the batter into the butter before adding it back to the rest of the mix helped out the most.

Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.
Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.
Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.

In typical layer-cake fashion, this matcha genoise has been paired with sweetened strawberry jam and tangy cream cheese whipped cream.  Here's a bit more of what I have to say about this fabulous flavor combo:

Genoise cakes are fairly mild in flavor yet very versatile. In this case, even the delicate flavors of the added matcha powder are able to shine through. They can be subject to drying out, but act like sponges to simple syrups and other flavouring agents. I brushed on a generous about of vanilla bean syrup to add extra flavor and moisture to each layer before I spread on the strawberry jam and cream cheese whipped cream. Now, if you thought the star of the this cake was the fancy-pants matcha genoise, then let me introduce you to this cream cheese whipped cream! I wanted to frost the cake with something that was not going to weigh down the delicate sponge or subtle matcha flavor, but plain whipped cream is sometimes a bit too light and unstable. Mixing some softened cream cheese with sweetened whipped cream was the answer! Not only does the cream cheese add fabulous, tangy flavor, it “bulks up” the whipped cream and even stabilizes it enough to frost the cake without headache. Try it – it’s amazing!! Top with fresh berries and there you go! I bet you could also use raspberry jam with fresh raspberries if you’d prefer.
Matcha (green tea) genoise cake with strawberries and cream cheese whipped cream.

Head straight over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe!