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.
When I bake cakes, they tend to be humble things, not motte-and-bailey castles of chocolate fingers and buttercream. I prefer a treat with an easy formula, which is why I am particularly drawn to the French word for sponge cake: quatre-quarts, or ‘four quarters’. This shows just how simple a pleasure cake can be: nothing more than flour, eggs, butter and sugar in equal proportions (by weight). The French method, which I use, differs slightly from most British sponge cake recipes. A little more elbow grease is required, but the effort is rewarded with extra lightness.
what’s the Japanese for sponge cake?
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 preparation method. Americans still use the term ‘pound cake’ despite have largely abandoned weight measurements in cookery. Meanwhile, despite our possession of scales and obsession with Bake Off, we Brits are relatively unfamiliar with the term. Could it be that the texturally descriptive term ‘sponge cake’ actually marks us out as a nation of cake-eaters, not cake-makers?
Help me even out the balance by making this interesting green matcha cake.
the recipe: extra tips
- For 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 this cake as a dessert, combine with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream and/or icing sugar… the choice is yours. 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.)
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. By this time it should be 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.