With this horrendous winter weather on the eastern seaboard, I thought a change of scenery would provide a temporary remedy. So I planned a trip to California to visit friends, which will include a few days in Palm Springs. Well, what do you know, I’ll be there on one of the few rare days that it rains in Palm Springs—good for the drought, not so good for shakin’ the winter blues.
Mother Nature, please keep the yuck down. After weeks where every part of the country seems to have been tossed about with one type of extreme weather or another, it dawned on me that I should focus on building experiences that I could control. Cooking nice dinners, sticking to regular workouts, and baking desserts contribute to a . . . sunnier disposition—as does making reservations for California. Catching up with friends over lunches, dinners, and just coffee is the right kind of forecast.
Matcha Strawberry Cake
yield: one 8-inch cake
Matcha-Strawberry Swirl Cake
2 tablespoons light rum
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberry powder
2-3/4 cups (11 ounces) cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
1. In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of rum with matcha powder, stir to combine. I na separate bowl, add remaining tablespoon of rum with strawberry powder, stir to combine. Set both bowls aside.
2. Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pan. Set aside. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. Whisk vanilla and eggs together in a measuring cup, set aside.
3. In the bowl of standing mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla-egg mixture, a little at a time, beat until combined.
4. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with whole milk (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat in each addition until barely combined. Remove bowl from mixer, stir batter by hand with rubber spatula to ensure there are no streaks of flour left on the bottom of the bowl.
5. Divide batter evenly into two separate bowls, add matcha mixture to one and strawberry mixture to the other. Fold each batter by hand until mixtures are fully combined.
6. Divide matcha batter evening into prepared cake pans in random blobs. Do the same with strawberry batter. Using a knife, gently swirl batters, using figure-8 motion. Tap pans gently on counter to release air bubble and even top.
7. Bake until wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 22-25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto wire rack and cool completely, about 40 minutes.
Matcha/Strawberry White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1 teaspoon freeze-dried strawberry powder4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1. Mix matcha powder and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl until it forms a smooth paste, set aside. Mix strawberry powder with remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in a separate small bowl until ti forms a smooth paste, set aside
2. Place white chocolate in a bowl of over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, about 15 minutes
3. In the bowl of standing mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add cooled white chocolate, beat until combined. Beat in butter until smooth combined, about 3 minutes.
4. Remove 1 cup of buttercream to a medium bowl, stir in strawberry mixture, whisk until smooth and combined. set aside.
5. Add matcha mixture to the remaining buttercream and beat on medium speed until smooth and combined.
2 layers Matcha-Strawberry Swirl Cake
1/2 cup strawberry preserve
1 cup sliced almond, toasted
1 tablespoon matcha powder (optional)
1 teaspoon freeze-dried strawberry powder (optional)
1. With a serrated knife, trim top of cake layers to yield a fairly flat surface. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of strawberry preserve on top of cake, then spread strawberry frosting on top of preserve. Flip second cake layer upside down, spread remaining 1/4 cup of strawberry preserve. Re-invert cake layer and place on top of cake layer with strawberry frosting.
2. Spread matcha buttercream evenly over top and sides of cake. Press slice almonds on the side of cake. Refrigerate cake for 15-20 minutes to set.
3. Remove cake from refrigerator, dust matcha and strawberry powder (if use) on top of cake. Serve.