I have a confession to make. I’m kind of obsessed with matcha and green tea flavored things. Maybe it’s because of the crazy bright color it imparts on everything, its fragrant taste, or that I see it everywhere now. Regardless, it’s a beloved childhood flavor and a staple of many asian cuisines. This Green Tea & Red Bean Cake is a fun childhood memory, reimagined.
Here’s something you need to know about the recipe before you get started. Many asian baked goods are not super sweet. Cakes, pastries and other treats tend to be light and airy, not overly sweet or dense. When I was younger, I was always disappointed when I got an asian birthday cake. (What a sad childhood) I mean, I’m not one to turn down a cake, but when you’re a chubby and genuinely rotund adolescent, a vanilla sponge with slightly sweet whipped cream and gelatin glazed fruit topping is hardly what you want for a birthday cake. My mom also loves this sponge cake with just a smear of unsweetened whipped cream and a layer of crackly phyllo dough. Literally no taste and no sugar. This is was constituted “dessert” at many an asian party, much to my dismay. Of course, now that I’m not as tubby, I’ve started to appreciate the less sweet desserts and can see why an entire region of the world prefers a less saccharine flavor profile. I recently had a store-bought cake experience where my teeth actually hurt from the frosting. Quarter-life crisis, anyone? Anyways, on to our Green Tea & Red Bean Cake!
This Green Tea & Red Bean Cake has a layer of another one of my favorite childhood goodies, red bean paste. I used to eat this stuff with a spoon when my parents weren’t looking. (I said I was tubby, didn’t I?) It’s weird to think that a sweet paste is made out of beans, but it’s normal for asian cuisines so I never thought it was odd until I had to explain it to someone. “Yeah, it’s like this paste that’s sweet. It’s made of beans…?” You can make this stuff easily yourself, but it also comes in cans at the asian store. So you really aren’t obligated to make it. No one will judge you if you use the can!
The recipe for our Green Tea & Red Bean Cake is very simple, but is a little different since you pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, not the other way around. With three cups of flour, the cake is nice and crumby, but if you want a denser texture, maybe more like a chewy brownie, you can just use less flour, maybe about two cups. When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry, you will notice that it looks like it’s too dry, but once you mix it through, it will come together.
Since we want a layer of red bean paste in the middle, only pour half of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Once you even spread that out, top it with a layer of red bean paste. Then use the rest of the batter for the top.
Now, I wasn’t entirely sure if the layers would stick together and have some structural integrity (recipe testing and all), so I gave it a good rap on the counter to help the batter settle down. I also took a knife and ran it through the batter in a continuous “S” curve in two directions, hoping to create a swirl with the layers. It didn’t come out as defined as I would have hoped, but if you swirl with more intensity and really try to mix up the batter and paste, it would help.
Surprisingly, the BF liked this Green Tea & Red Bean Cake enough to not want to share with our friends! Imagine that. This was a pretty hefty compliment coming from the guy who doesn’t like sweets, so I’ll call this recipe a success! They keep very well in a sealed container in the fridge. Just heat them up a little bit before eating. Owen likes to microwave them for 20 seconds and have it with a glass of milk for dessert or breakfast.
Another random note about my method of cooking. I try not to let anything go to waste when I don’t use something in it’s entirety. So don’t throw away the extra egg whites from the recipe! Fry them up for a snack or make a meringue! Also, I’m sure you can use less than one can of red bean paste, but why have any left over to rust in an open tin can? Just use it all up (it’s delicious) and save yourself the grief of keeping leftovers. Like I could even be trusted with an open can of red bean paste. Psh.
Are you guys into green tea as much as I am? Got any other ways you like to use it? Let me know! I’d love to try some more recipes!