Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake

St. Patrick's Day calls for a green cake.
St. Patrick’s Day calls for a green cake.

St. Patrick’s Day calls for something green — and sweet.

Thankfully, Mother Nature provides the perfect natural green food coloring in the form of matcha, the Japanese ceremonial tea.

That’s what gives this cake and frosting its vivid hue.

“Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake” is a lovely dessert, both to look at and to eat.

It’s from the book, “Good & Proper Tea: How to Make, Drink and Cook with Tea” (Kyle, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Emilie Holmes, an avowed non-coffee drinker in the United Kingdom, who started her own company, Good & Proper Tea, to source and sell top-notch whole-leaf teas. With crowd-funding resources, she first started an adorable mobile tea bar out of a converted 1974 Citroen in 2012 before opening a brick-and-mortar tea shop and cafe in 2019.

The book is not merely a cookbook. It’s a treatise on the world of tea — from where it comes from and the impact of growing region on flavor to the many types of teas to the proper water temperature, amount of tea leaves, and brewing time for a host of different teas.

There are recipes for all manner of tea drinks, including “Yunnan, Orange & Ginger Iced Tea,” “Rooibos Latte,” and “Chai Bourbon Mule.” There are also more than a dozen recipes for using tea in food, such as “Assam Tea Cake,” “Earl Grey & Cardamom Sugar Buns” and “Yunnan & Blood Orange Granita.”

Because it’s a cookbook that originated in the U.K., you will have to get used to — or search Google — different terms for certain ingredients, such as “caster sugar” (superfine granulated sugar), and “plain flour” (which generally refers to all-purpose flour).

You’ll also need a kitchen scale if you make the baking recipes in this book because most of the measurements are in grams or ounces. However, I took the liberty of converting them into cup measurements in this loaf cake recipe, for those who don’t have a scale.

The batter whips up quite thick for this cake, so you’ll need a spatula to spread it evenly into the greased and floured pan.

Matcha flavors and colors both the cake batter and frosting.
Matcha flavors and colors both the cake batter and frosting.

A lemon-sugar syrup gets drizzled over the top when it comes out of the oven. I used juice from a Meyer lemon, because they’re in season now, and I like their more floral and less puckery taste. The recipe originally said to poke holes in the top of the cake with a fork before spooning over the syrup. I think a skewer works better to get holes deeper into the cake, so I made that change.

Then, a thick frosting — made with more matcha plus butter, a little cream cheese, a splash of milk, and plenty of confectioners’ sugar — gets smeared over the top.

The cake bakes up with a mossy green interior, and a soft yet substantial crumb. The frosting is sweet, but the cake is not overwhelmingly so, making them a great match. You taste the astringency of the green tea in the cake, tamed by the sugar, with a subtle lemony lift. It’s kind of like a matcha latte — only in cake form.

As such, it makes for the perfect light, bright ending to a corned beef and cabbage feast.

A tender, moist cake perfect for brunch, snack or dessert.
A tender, moist cake perfect for brunch, snack or dessert.

Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake

(Makes one 2-pound cake, about 81/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf)

For loaf cake:

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing

170 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons) superfine granulated sugar

3 large eggs

170 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

For the syrup:

100 grams (1/2 cup) superfine granulated sugar

2 fluid ounces (1/4 cup) water

Juice of 1 lemon

For the icing:

50 grams (scant 2 tablespoons butter) unsalted butter, softened

1 ounce cream cheese, softened

200 grams (1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder, sifted

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 340 degrees and line or grease and flour an 8 1/2-by4 1/2-inch loaf tin. Tap the tin edges on the work surface to remove excess flour.

Cream the butter and sugar together with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until light in color and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until they come together. Finally add the lemon zest and juice and the yogurt and mix one last time.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin, smoothing it evenly with a spatula; and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until dissolved.

Remove the cake from the oven, and, leaving it in its tin, prick the surface all over with a skewer before pouring over 4 tablespoons of the lemon sugar syrup. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in its tin while you make the icing.

For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese together until soft. Add the icing sugar a little at a time and mix well. Add the matcha and ensure it is completely mixed in without any lumps. Finally, add the milk and vanilla and beat until bright green and fluffy. Spread the icing on the cooled cake and you are ready to slice and eat.

Adapted from “Good & Proper Tea” by Emilie Holmes

More Matcha Green to Enjoy: Raspberry-Mochi Butter Cake with Matcha Glaze

And: Matcha Cream Pie

And: Green Tea Lemon Wafers

And: Green Tea Shortbread with Poppy Seeds

Plus Something Unbelievably Different: Parsley Cake

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