|Cherry blossom in Takayama|
One of our favourite cold drinks in Japan, bought from vending machines which seem to stand on every street corner, was lemon tea. I'm not sure whether the tea was green tea or regular tea, but it inspired this lemon and green tea marble cake. This time I used enough green tea for the flavour, as well as the colour, to be noticeable in the cake.
225g/8oz butter, at room temperature
225g/8oz caster sugar
80g/3oz ground almonds
175g/6oz SR flour
4 large eggs
milk, as required
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of lemon oil
2 tablespoons matcha (green tea powder)
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas 3.
Prepare a 18 or 20cm (7 or 8") diameter round cake tin. I prefer to use a non-stick springform tin, but still line the base with a circle of baking parchment.
Mix the flour and ground almonds together in a small bowl.
Cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy - an electric mixer is best for this, but it can be done by hand.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a teaspooon of the flour/almond mix, to prevent curdling. Then sieve the rest of the flour mix over the surface of the cake batter, tipping in any ground almonds which won't go through the sieve mesh. Fold this in until evenly mixed, adding enough milk as you do so to give a soft dropping consistency (about 3 tablespoons).
Divide the mixture in two, and stir the lemon zest and oil into one portion. Add the green tea powder to the other portion of cake batter, adding a little more milk if necessary, to keep the consistency the same as for the lemon flavoured portion.
Place alternate dessertspoons of the two mixtures into the cake tin, trying to get at least two layers, with green batter above lemon, and vice versa, on the upper layers, and gently easing the cake mix into place to avoid large gaps in the mixture. Tap the tin to settle the cake mix into any gaps that have been left, then use a skewer or a knife to swirl through the cake mix to marble the two mixes together.
Bake for 65-75 minutes, until a test probe comes out clean; cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I used icing sugar and lemon juice to make a glacé icing which was drizzled decoratively over the cake. This was a delicious cake, with the lemon and green tea flavours complimenting each other well, and just enough green tea to give the distinctive bitter taste.