This matcha cake recipe with creamy cream cheese frosting and delicate matcha pastry cream filling is the perfect dessert to make for any occasion. It is the ultimate indulgence that you won't regret making at home.
What matcha tastes like
I love matcha! I think the taste is out of this world! It's got a rich, earthy flavor with a hint of bitterness that makes it stand out from other cakes. The grassy and nutty undertones give it a unique taste that's not for everyone, but those who love it swear by it. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, give matcha powder a go and prepare to be blown away!
What matcha powder to choose
There are three types of matcha powder you need to know about: ceremonial grade, premium grade, and culinary grade. If you're looking for the best of the best, go for ceremonial-grade matcha. It's of the highest quality and used in traditional tea ceremonies in Japan. It's made from the youngest leaves of the tea plant and has a delicate, sweet flavor, with a smooth texture and bright green color.
Now, if you're looking for something a little more affordable but still tasty, go for premium-grade matcha. It's got a slightly bitter taste but is perfect for making this very best matcha cake.
Lastly, there's culinary grade matcha. It's the lowest quality but still perfect for baking and cooking. It's got a more robust flavor and is less expensive than the other grades, making it an excellent choice for those on a budget.
Ingredients you will need to make this green cake
Flour – You can use either all-purpose flour or cake flour to make matcha sponge cake.
Baking powder – This is our leavening agent for this recipe.
Sugar – Use white granulated sugar to make Japanese matcha cake layers and pastry cream filling, then powdered sugar for the frosting.
Matcha and vanilla extract – I chose ceremonial grade matcha powder (you can go for a more affordable type of tea) to make my green tea cake recipe. As for the vanilla extract – I add a little bit everywhere, but you can skip it if you want to embrace the matcha flavor.
Salt – Never skip the salt, as it makes other flavors pop up.
Fats – I use unsalted butter for the cake sponge layers, the frosting, and even for the filling. I also add some vegetable oil to the cake batter to keep the cake moist and soft even after refrigeration.
Milk – Use whole milk at room temperature.
Eggs – I use egg yolks for the filling and whole eggs for the cake layers. If you don’t want to throw away the egg whites, here are a couple of recipes where you can use them: Meringue cookies and Mini pavlova.
Cornstarch – It helps to thicken up the pastry cream.
Cream cheese – I would recommend taking your cheese (I use Original Philadelphia) out of the fridge in advance so it will soften up a little bit before mixing it with the butter.
Heavy whipping cream – Use cold cream.
Green food coloring - You will need water-soluble green coloring (for example gel food coloring) to make cream cheese frosting green. I also want to mention that I haven't used anyting exept matcha powder to make the cake layers green.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to ensure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.
If you can’t fit all three cake pans in the oven, that’s okay. I usually bake two cake pans at a time, while the third pan with the cake batter is waiting its turn on the kitchen counter.
Add the hot milk to your egg yolk mixture slowly and whisk vigorously; otherwise the eggs can curdle, which will ruin your pastry cream consistency.
Don’t overwhip the frosting. Keep an eye on the frosting when you start adding the cream cheese. If you overwhip it, it’ll split and there will be no way back. So, add it gradually and check often for a fluffy and stable texture. The cream should hold its shape well.
Chill the cake well before applying the final frosting. The pastry cream filling is delicious but not very stable. You need to chill your cake well so the filling will set and your cake layers won’t move anywhere when you’re applying the cream cheese frosting.
Step by step directions
Preparing the cake layers
1. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line the bottom and the sides of three 6-inch cake pans (15cm) with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Then add the oil and vanilla and beat again.
4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until emulsified.
5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the pastry cream filling
1. Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and half of the sugar until smooth.
2. Heat the milk, matcha powder, and the rest of the sugar in a saucepan until simmering.
3. Pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking vigorously. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook it over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens and becomes pudding-like in consistency.
4. Stir in the butter until it’s melted.
5. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
6. Chill the custard in the refrigerator until cold.
7. Whip the heavy cream until medium peaks form.
8. Add the chilled custard ⅓ at a time and whip into the whipped cream until well combined.
Making the cream cheese frosting
1. Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until very fluffy and white.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated.
3. If desired, color ⅓ of the cream with green food coloring and place it in a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice.
Assembling the matcha green tea cake
1. Place the first cake layer on a cake plate or stand and spread evenly some of the filling over it.
2. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the same amount of the filling. Place the third cake layer on top and apply a thin layer of remaining cream on top and the sides of the cake as a crumb coat. Refrigerate or freeze the cake until the crumb coating is set and the cake is not wobbly.
3. Spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
4. Decorate with the cream in the piping bag and optionally use matcha powder for dusting.
Raspberries - Add fresh raspberries to the cake batter and use some for decoration for a fruity twist on the classic matcha cake.
Chocolate - Mix in some chocolate chips or chunks to your cake batter for a rich and indulgent matcha chocolate cake.
Add more matcha - Mix some matcha powder into your cream cheese frosting if you feel like it’s not enough.
Another frosting and filling – If you think that making pastry cream and cream cheese frosting is too much for one cake, replace them with your favorite buttercream that you can use both inside and outside of the cake. Or you can double the cream cheese frosting recipe and use it as a filling as well.
Store it in a cake bow or on a cake server covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 4 days.
You can freeze cake layers for up to 2 months but once the cake is assembled it can’t be frozen.
Yes, you can bake the cake layers and keep them tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Yes, pastry cream can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days before whipping it with heavy whipping cream.
More recipes you may like
- Digital kitchen scale
- Stand mixer or hand mixer and a large mixing bowl
- 3 6" (15cm) cake pan
- Rubber spatula
- Parchment paper
- 200 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon matcha powder
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 140 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 200 g white granulated sugar
- 30 g vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 160 ml whole milk
- 60 g egg yolks 3 egg yolks of large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 20 g cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 70 g white granulated sugar
- 250 ml whole milk can be cold
- 2-3 teaspoon matcha powder
- 30 g unsalted butter can be cold
- 100 ml heavy whipping cream cold
- 200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 90 g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400 g cream cheese
- Green food coloring water soluble food coloring in gel, liquid, or paste form
- Matcha powder for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line the bottom and the sides of three 6-inch cake pans (15cm) with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, matcha powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer and a bowl), add the butter and sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Then add the oil and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl and beat for a few seconds.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat until emulsified.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Bake in batches if needed.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and store in the fridge if you’re planning to assemble the cake another day.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and half of the sugar until smooth.
- Heat the milk, matcha powder, and the rest of the sugar in a saucepan until simmering.
- Pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking vigorously. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook it over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens and becomes pudding-like in consistency.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill the custard in the fridge until cold or use the freezer to speed up the process.
- In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until medium peaks form.
- Add the chilled custard ⅓ at a time and whip into the whipped cream until well combined and stable.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and a hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until very fluffy and white.
- Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated.
- If desired, color ⅓ of the cream with green food coloring and place it in a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice.
Assembling the cake
- Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand and evenly spread some of the filling over it.
- Place the second cake layer on top and spread the same amount of filling. Place the third cake layer on top and apply a thin layer of the remaining cream on the top and sides of the cake as a crumb coat. Refrigerate or freeze the cake for 1 hour or until well chilled, the crumb coating is set, and the cake is not wobbly.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
- Decorate with the cream in the piping bag and optionally use matcha powder for dusting.
- Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.