For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been busy with bake sales and charity projects to benefit the relief efforts in Japan. One was the Online Bake Sale for Japan, which brought in a whopping $8,269—three times the estimated amount. Another, the NYC Bake Sale for Japan, happened last Saturday at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene. Enough dessert lovers showed up and bought goodies that day to collect an impressive $4,644 for the cause.
Even though both of the sales were for Japan, I decided to present bake goods that were more suited for the American palette. These events were about raising money fast, not cultural or culinary awareness, so I aimed for flavor profiles where contributors would be the most vulnerable and therefore have the least resistance to making purchases: chocolate, caramel, and nuts. It worked.
After the weekend, however, I longed to bake something with Japanese flavors. Matcha (green tea) was the first ingredient that I associate with Japan, so naturally I thought about making a pastry that would go nicely with a cup of tea.
Matcha Almond Teacakes have a flakey pastry shell, similar to those you find in the pastries in Asian bakeries, and a yielding center of intense almond and matcha paste. The almond flavor is more intense than the traditional Chinese Almond Cookie. (tomorrow, by the way, is Chinese Almond Cookie Day.)The decorative exterior is actually rather easy to make, and the dough is very forgiving with not much rolling required. I spent more time picking out the decorative sliced almonds than making the pastries themselves.
Matcha Almond Teacake
recipe by hungry rabbit
10-1/2 ounces almond paste
3 tablespoon matcha powder
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8-3/4 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup superfine sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
Lemon zest, freshly grated from 1 lemon
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg, beaten (reserve 1 tablespoon)
60 sliced almond for decoration (optional)
1. Knead matcha powder into almond paste, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Divide into 12 portions, rolled them into balls and flatten slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and zest into food processor. Pulse to combine, about 3 seconds. Add butter and continue to pulse, about 5-7 1 sec pulses, until mixture resemble coarse sand with pea size clumps. Add egg and pulse until just combined.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few time to smooth out the dough. Divide into 12 portions and roll them quickly to form balls.
4. Roll each ball of dough into 3-1/2 inch round and place a disc of almond filling in the center. Fold edges up towards the center to fully enclose the filling. It is important that the filling is fully enclosed to prevent leakage. Place pastry parcel on a parchment lined baking sheet seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
5. When you have all 12 pastry parcels on the baking sheet, cover and refrigerated for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350℉ and position oven rack in the center position. Grease a standard, 12 count, muffin pan and dust with flour, set aside.
7. with reserved egg and decorate with sliced almonds (if use). Bake for 22-25 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from oven and let rest in pan for 5 minutes. Turn cake out and cool completely on wire rack.