I have always loved Thanksgiving. For one, its a food centered holiday, and what is better than food? And two, it is a great opportunity to take a break from the hectic pace of life in order to spend some quality time with family and friends, catching up and giving you the motivation you need to keep going even after the holiday ends. One thing I have started to appreciate as much as the traditional Thanksgiving, though, is a little thing called Friendsgiving.
Friendsgiving, usually occurring before or after Thanksgiving, takes all the important elements of Thanksgiving like food, special people, and a general feeling of thankfulness, but does not require extended family or traditional foods. Last year I was in Japan, and my Friendsgiving consisted of me, an American friend and some Japanese friends going out to 焼き肉食べ放題, or all you can eat grilled meat. This year, my international friends from school wanted to celebrate with a pot luck, as they were stuck in the dorms all weekend.
While most of the other girls included in the event made delicious savory recipes from their native cuisine, I, of course, decided to make a dessert. I asked them if there were any flavors in particular they were interested in, thinking to myself that it would end up being somewhere along the lines of apple, spice, pumpkin…or really any other fall flavor. However, the immediate and strong response to my question was with out a doubt 抹茶, or Matcha, a powdered green tea from Japan.
Thrown off my original train of thought, I quickly scoured Foodgawker, Pinterest and all my recipe books to find the perfect recipe. Should I make cupcakes? A roll cake? Cookies? I couldn’t decide–there were far too many delicious options. Just then, at the pinnacle of my confusion and indecision, I stumbled upon the most amazing recipe from a blog called Love and Duck Fat.
I was so excited to have time to bake something though that I didn’t want to make just any old cake. I wanted to spend more time than I had to and make it an exceptional cake. So I also decided to make some gum paste roses. I have a lot of reasons for making everything that I bake, but working with gum paste has two main reasons: 1) because I truly want to improve my skill working with the material, and 2) because it is super easy to sit at my kitchen table and work with gum paste while zoning out and watching Netflix for hours. Yeah…the latter is a strong selling point, I know.
So anyway, it is a relatively simple cake, especially if you don’t add the roses, and if you want to add some roses or flowers without working with gum paste you could certainly pipe them using the same frosting used to frost the cake. I made the honey sponge cake a few days in advance and stuck it in my freezer, made the gum paste roses a few days in advance and kept them on my counter, and then made the frosting and frosted the cake the morning I was going to serve the cake. And it was delicious. Like, light and fluffy, sweet but not too sweet, and the perfect texture to make you feel like there is no problem stopping at one piece.
Here is a look at the gum paste roses I made:
This was the third time I made gum paste roses, and I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I made the regular size but I also made a smaller size, using toothpicks for both to hold them firmly in place. I also ended up using a peach colored gel food coloring to die the white gum paste that I bought, thinking the peach was vibrant but still soft enough to compliment the natural green of the matcha powder.
I used a traditional layer cake stacking technique when putting the cake together, using chilled cake rounds to help stabilize the cake.
After the first outside layer, I stuck the cake in the freezer for a few minutes before smoothing the frosting and adding some piping to cover the board at the bottom. I also used a tea strainer to dust parts of the cake with extra matcha, much like you would with powdered sugar or cocoa powder.
And as a final touch, I stuck the roses around the cake for decoration.
Here are the instructions as per Love and Duck Fat’s recipe:
Honey Sponge Cake
6 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup + 2 ½ tablespoons flour
7 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons warm water
Green Tea Mousse
2 cups (1 pint) cold whipping cream
2 tablespoons (plus more to taste) matcha green tea powder
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons boiling water
Honey Sponge Cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F/ 65 degrees C.
Coat 2 8″ cake pans with butter or cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until the eggs increase in size by 4x and the color is pale yellow. When you lift the whisk, the mixture should fall in ribbons.
Combine 5 tablespoons of the honey with 2 tablespoons of warm water, reserving the rest. Quickly add to the egg mixture until just combined.
Working in batches, add the flour to the egg mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Do not over mix at this point.
Divide the batter between cake pans. Carefully tap the cake pans on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes, then open the oven door and bake another 5 minutes. The texture of the cakes should be spongy.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the cake pans and cool completely.
Green Tea Mousse
Sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water into a bowl. Allow to soften for 1 minute. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Allow to cool slightly.
In a mixing bowl, stir together sugar and green tea powder. Add whipping cream and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until cream is stiff and forming peaks. Add the gelatin mixture and beat until completely blended. Place into the refrigerator to cool completely; about 30 minutes.
Using a bread knife, carefully cut sponge cake layers in half. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon warm water. Arrange the bottom cake layer on a cake stand. Lightly Brush with honey mixture. Add a layer of mousse. Alternate each layer, brushing the sponge layers with more honey.
Thanks for reading! Check back soon for more adventures! ^_^