A vibrant matcha sponge cake or quatre-quarts, served in fingers. Matcha gives this simple sponge cake a bright colour and not-too-sweet flavour; beaten egg whites make it extra light. Easy to make and simple to serve, matcha sponge cake makes an elegant but unfussy afternoon treat.
I’m not a fancy home baker. I can’t be bothered with motte-and-bailey castles of chocolate fingers and buttercream. That’s why I’m drawn to the French word for sponge cake: quatre-quarts, or ‘four quarters’, which shows just how simple cake can be. Sponge cake is nothing more than flour, eggs, butter and sugar in equal proportions (by weight). The classic French method, which I use here, differs slightly from most British sponge cake recipes in that the egg whites are beaten separately.
but what is ‘sponge cake’ in Japanese?
I thought you’d ask. In Japan, this food is known by the American loanword パウンドケーキ (paundokēki), which you may recognise phonetically as ‘pound cake’. This also alludes to the equal-parts-by-weight idea.
before we start
- To make this matcha sponge cake (or quatre-quarts au matcha if you prefer), you will need measuring scales, two mixing bowls and a loaf tin.
- Two tablespoons of precious matcha may seem like a lot. Unfortunately, using less than this will result in a very faint flavour. If possible, use a cheaper ‘kitchen grade’ matcha intended for food use.
- This 2-egg recipe makes a 2″ deep loaf (once cooled) in a 9×5″ loaf tin. Since this is quite shallow, I recommend slicing it into six large finger-shaped servings.
- To serve as a dessert, combine with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream and/or icing sugar. Above, I went for peach slices glazed in a little butter and sugar.
- You may see a dense streak in your cake here and there – see my photo above! It happens for a lot of reasons, but don’t worry – it tastes the same. (For the record, I don’t think I mixed my butter in evenly enough.)
recipe: matcha sponge cake
Fluffy green sponge cake fingers with a subtle matcha flavour.
- 2 eggs (medium)
- 110 g caster sugar (plus extra for the tin)
- 110 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp matcha (level)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 110 g butter (melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing)
- splash milk (just in case)
- Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a small (9×5″) loaf tin with butter. Additionally, sprinkle the insides of the tin with sugar.
- Separate the eggs and reserve the whites. In a mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until smooth and aerated.
- Mix in the melted butter, incorporating even more air if possible.
- Sieve the flour, matcha and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, folding in gently a little at a time.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. If the main batter looks too dry to combine with the egg whites, add a small splash of milk to it.
- Fold the egg whites gently into the batter one third at a time. Be sure to leave no visible white foam in the mixture.
- Pour the batter into the tin from a low height and gently push it to the edges. Run a toothpick through the batter to break any large bubbles introduced by pouring.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake should end up rounded and slightly cracked on top. If cooked, it will spring back when prodded gently with a finger.
- Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the tin before going around the edges with a knife. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave upside down until completely cool.
- To serve, slice into six fingers.