tea time – matcha-coconut cake (gluten-free)

by hungryrabbit on October 19, 2012

Matcha-Coconut Cake (gluten-free)

M and I are planning our Asia trip–Hong Kong as usual and  this time with a side trip to Japan with friends. We did our initial research for things to do in Japan–and just as important, what to eat. More importantly, food to savor.

In the kitchen now, I can’t help but be drawn to flavors of Japan, especially one of my favorite dessert ingredients, matcha (green tea powder). The woodsy flavor and mossy green hue fuel all sorts of sweet experiments.

Japanese desserts are always pristine and precise–they are never short of being works of art. Although I could spend time to create the perfect looking dessert, I focused instead on the fusion of flavors. It’s more J-Pop than kabuki. When the sweetness of fluffy coconut pairs with down-to-earth matcha, the magic begins. 

Matcha-Coconut Cake (gluten-free)

yield: Two 4-inch layer cake or four individual cakes


1/2 cup (2 ounces) coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup coconut oil, (liquid)
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Matcha Ganache, recipe to follow
Coconut Frosting, recipe to follow
1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted (garnish)


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Grease four 4-inch cake pans with butter or cooking spray and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease parchment rounds. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda, salt and xantham gum, set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with a hand mixer until lighter in color and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add coconut oil, agave nectar, extract, continue to beat until combined. Fold in flour mixture and shredded coconut until fully combined.

4. Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with small off-set spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen, remove cakes onto a lightly greased rack. Cool completely.

Matcha Ganache


8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt


1. Place chocolate and matcha powder in a medium bowl. Bring heavy cream just to a boil, and pour over chocolate mixture. Stir until fully combined and smooth.

2. Let cool to room temperature and thickened, about 45 minutes. Alternatively, refrigerate ganache for faster cooling.

Coconut Frosting


8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons coconut milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon light rum


1. Using electric mixer, beat butter in medium bowl until smooth. Add sugar, reduced coconut milk, extracts, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Add rum and continue to beat until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until needed.


1.Using two cakes, cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter, spread approximately 2 tablespoons of ganache over cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with filling and cake layers until top with the 4th cake layer.

2. Spread or pipe frosting on top and side of cake. Garnish with pistachios. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes before serving.

3. Repeat with remaining two cakes.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

heather October 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

A thing of beauty!

Brian @ A Thought For Food October 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

Woo hoo! You must be so excited to get to see your family and eat all that amazing food again! Super jealous here!

And god damn it, Ken! This cake is stunning! Why don’t I live closer so I could knock on your door and demand a slice.

Brooks│Cakewalker October 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

Ken, I’m smitten by the orchestration of flavors here. Contrary to what you say, you HAVE created a perfect looking dessert. Bravo!

Colette @ JFF! October 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Another beauty!

Mabel October 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

beautiful! I’m born and raised in Hong Kong. But came to the US in college. I really miss street food and cheap eats…

Bri October 20, 2012 at 9:33 am

Matcha and coconut, two of my favorite flavors! I recently stumbled across your blog and I love your flavor combinations!

hungryrabbit October 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks Bri, hope you’ll try some of the recipes. Let me know if you have any questions. – Ken

Javelin Warrior October 26, 2012 at 12:09 am

The frosted cake is incredible (such beautiful frosting and finishing touches) but the inside! Wow… So moist and I love the contrast between all three elements… I’m featuring this post as part of Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution) and thanks for making me drool!

Denise December 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

This looks beautiful and I’d love to serve it as a Christmas Eve dessert. Do you have an alternative pan option if I don’t have four 4-inch cake pans?
Thanks so much!

hungryrabbit December 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hi Denise, you can make them as cupcakes by using muffin tin, about 1/4 batter each. Scoop out the center for filling and frosting on top. -Ken

rubydorcas March 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm

This looks delicious. We are going GF due to my youngest son’s issues and this is exactly the kind of yumminess I am looking for online. Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to make it for his birthday.

marla June 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

Such a beautiful coconut cake!

Wanda Rodgers July 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Where do you get matcha?

hungryrabbit July 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Hi Wanda, I got it at my favorite Japanese grocery store. Here’s the same item on Amazon http://amzn.to/16VMbTx A bit pricy but the quality is exceptional and you’ll get the best green hue for you bake goods. Happy Baking! -Ken

the delicate place (@misathemeb) April 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm

i know this is an old post but i just got back from japan at the end of february and am now in love/more inspired than i have ever been with southeast asian cuisine! i was a matcha addict long before our trip but my goodness do i have a new and serious appreciation for seaweed & mushrooms <3

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