A bright green cake with fluffy white buttercream sandwiched between the layers and fresh strawberries on top is so stunning for almost any occasion. This simple matcha cake is made with green tea powder (also known as matcha), and baked in a single 8-inch square pan that you easily slice and stack and make a two layer loaf cake.
The bright green color of this matcha cake means that I make this cake at Christmas time, since it's so Grinch-like. I also think the red strawberries look so pretty next to the green cake crumb. However, this cake is also good in the springtime when you want something light and fresh.
The pleasant earthiness and delicate grassiness of matcha is something I happen to love. If you like my matcha tiramisu for two, you will love this cake!
Since we're a small batch dessert website, I have a trick for you to make a small layer cake! We're going to bake this cake in an 8-inch square pan, slice it in half, and then stack the two rectangular pieces to make a loaf layer cake. With this small layer cake, you will get about 5 or 6 slices of cake. This is perfect for a dinner party, and is so much less intimidating to make than a whole layer cake!
Matcha Cake Ingredients
I really couldn't think of an easier way to make a layer cake than to use one pan to make one layer that you then slice and stack. The ingredients to this cake are super simple, too!
- Butter. We need 7 tablespoons (just shy of one stick) of unsalted butter softened for the cake and another stick for the vanilla buttercream frosting. While nearly 2 sticks of butter sounds like a lot for a small cake, remember that this cake makes 5-6 slices of cake. A regular layer cake can use up to 4 sticks (or more), if it has lots of frosting!
- Granulated Sugar. Just one cup of white granulated sugar.
- Eggs. We need two whole eggs for this matcha cake recipe.
- Vanilla. Pure vanilla extract compliments the green tea powder in this cake, and makes it taste like your favorite matcha latte.
- Matcha. Another name for matcha is green tea powder. It's super concentrated whole green tea leaves, ground finely. You can use culinary grade matcha powder for this cake, but ensure it has a bright green color. Ceremonial matcha is going to have the brightest green color, but it also happens to be the most expensive. Just make sure it's a vibrant green color, or else your cake will be a dark forest green after baking.
- Flour. The same amount of flour as sugar, one cup.
- Baking Powder. We're using baking powder instead of baking soda so that the matcha stays bright green.
- Buttermilk. Low-fat cultured buttermilk from the store is the best thing to use here. However, you can use ⅓ cup of whole milk with ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar instead.
- Powdered Sugar. This sugar is for the vanilla buttercream that will top the matcha cake.
- Heavy Cream. A big splash of heavy cream makes our frosting nice and fluffy.
- Fresh Strawberries. Fresh berries are just for decoration and are completely optional, but I love the way the red strawberries and bright green cake give us Grinch vibes for Christmas.
How to Make Matcha Cake
We're using an 8-inch square pan, also known as the standard brownie pan. This simple matcha cake makes a single layer and only requires one pan. However, after baking, we will slice the square in half to make two rectangles. We will stack the rectangles with buttercream to get a small layer cake shaped like a loaf. From this, you will get 5 or 6 regular cake slices.
First, preheat oven to 325, and line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Then, lightly spray the exposed sides of the lined pan with cooking spray. Next, in a medium-size bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the eggs, matcha powder and vanilla, and beat just until combined.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
Add half of this flour mixture to the bowl, and stir to combine.
Add all of the buttermilk, and stir again. Finally, add the remaining half of the flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain, but be careful not to overmix the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake on the middle rack for 30-33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean with only moist crumbs (not wet batter).
Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, until it starts to pull away from the edges of the pan. Then, run a knife around the edge of the cake, and lift it out of the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, slice the cake in half; this will make the square into two rectangles.
Next, make the vanilla buttercream frosting by combining the softened stick of butter with powdered sugar, vanilla, and the heavy cream. Whip until fluffy and light, at least 3 minutes. Alternatively, you could make my whipped cream cream cheese frosting. Spread some on top of the first rectangle. Stack and use remaining buttercream and strawberries to decorate the best matcha cake ever.
This is what the cake will look like, since we made a layer cake from a square pan. You have a 'loaf layer cake', which is a term I'd like to copyright! From here, you can slice on a diagonal (in the same way you slice for my cheesecake in a loaf pan) to get 5 or 6 perfectly triangular cake slices. When serving, you can hardly tell the triangle cake slices weren't cut from a traditional round layer cake!
This cake is best eaten within a day or two. Leftovers should be stored in the fridge, since the frosting contains butter. Before serving a cake that has been refrigerated, let it rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes to soften slightly.
Equipment to Bake Matcha Cake:
- Matcha Green Tea Powder - I am linking you to my favorite matcha to buy, but please note that you can buy whatever you like, as long as its vibrant green, high-quality culinary grade and fresh! Encha is my favorite brand, but taste many and find one that you like.
- 8-Inch Square Pan - This is my favorite 8 inch pan, because the grooves on the bottom ensure it's truly nonstick.
- Hand Mixer - This is my favorite hand mixer because it has its own carrying case.
Frequently Asked Questions:
This matcha cake tastes like a big sweet matcha latte. The cake has the same slightly grassy, earthy taste as matcha, and the frosting is similar to the sweet milk foam you would add to make a latte. It's delicious, especially if add sweet strawberries!
So, one teaspoon of matcha contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine, and this cake calls for 4.5 teaspoons (1.5 tablespoons) of matcha. Since the cake is sliced into 6 pieces, that means each piece has about 37 milligrams of caffeine, nearly one whole teaspoon of matcha! This is similar to the amount in a matcha latte, and since caffeine does not 'bake out' of a cake, I would not serve this to kids. If you're comfortable with your kids consuming one teaspoon of matcha powder, it's your choice. I am not available to help put them down for a nap after they eat an entire slice of cake.
Matcha comes in two forms: ceremonial (very fancy and very pricy) and culinary. Try to use the highest quality of culinary matcha for this cake. It should have a bright green color, never an olive dark green color. I don't recommend just adding matcha to a regular cake recipe. I recommend following the recipe below that calls for 1.5 tablespoons of matcha, because this will guarantee a bright green, vibrant cake.
There are few ways to prevent matcha from oxidizing (turning brown). One, ensure you buy a vibrant green fresh matcha. Then, store the powder in an opaque, airtight container and keep it away from heat and light. Bake your cake immediately after the batter is mixed, and be careful not to over-bake. This recipe relies on baking powder (which is made up of two chemical leaveners) which means that two acids will hold the matcha at a vibrant green and prevent it from browning. This is similar to the way lemon juice prevents apple slices from oxidizing and turning brown. Please note that the edges of your cake might be slightly brown (see photo above for visual guide).
Other matcha recipes:
- 7 tablespoons (99 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tablespoons matcha powder
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
For the frosting:
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 cups (260 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoons (7 mL) vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) heavy cream
- Fresh strawberries, optional for garnish
- Preheat oven to 325°F, and line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Then, lightly spray the exposed sides of the lined pan with cooking spray.
- In a medium-size bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, matcha powder and vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl, and stir to combine.
- Add all of the buttermilk, and stir again.
- Finally, add the remaining half of the flour mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain, but be careful not to overmix the batter.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake on the middle rack for 30-33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean with only moist crumbs (not wet batter).
- Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, until it starts to pull away from the edges of the pan. Then, run a knife around the edge of the cake, and lift it out of the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Next, make the frosting: combine all frosting ingredients in a bowl. Then, beat all of the frosting ingredients together until light and fluffy.
- Slice the cake in half (from one square into two rectangles), and spread some buttercream on top of one half. Place the opposite cake half on top of the cake half with buttercream.
- Decorate the cake with powdered sugar, the remaining buttercream and fresh strawberries. Slice into 5 or 6 triangle slices and serve.
Storage: This cake is best eaten within a day or two. Leftovers should be stored in the fridge, since the frosting contains butter.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g