Baking Tales

Matcha-do About Nothing

Oh whoops I couldn’t help myself – Shakespeare readers would know what I mean šŸ˜›

So I’ve a confession to make – baking used to terrify me. I never understood how a pile of ingredients (eg. flour, eggs, sugar etc.) can somehow transform into something so unlike the original ingredients when mixed together and popped into the oven for a precise amount of time at a prescribed temperature. The whole processĀ of baking seemed very science-y to me and for someone who didn’t do very well in Physics and Chemistry back in high school, I didn’t quite warm up to the idea of baking. To me, if something went wrong during the process of cooking, you can somehow salvage it as you taste and cook along. But for baking, the fate is kind of sealed once you pop it into the oven and that just makes me really nervous.

But then recently I was talking to someone about cheesecakes, which I really like eating and have attempted to bake before. That person asked if I knew how to bake cheesecakes and as I recalled, I realised that the last time I baked a cheesecake successfully was many many years ago for someone’s birthday!

My 1st cheesecake! Baked Nutella Cheesecake :)
My 1st cheesecake! Baked Nutella Cheesecake šŸ™‚

I then remembered that it was actually quite fun baking that cheesecake many many years ago. At the same time, I’ve been eyeing thisĀ recipe for awhile (that blog is by my high school friend btw, who’s a REALLY talented baker!). So I thought, hey why not give it a go?

So I bought my first tin of matcha powder and that’s how I got started on the matcha adventures…

Besides the baking possibilities, this little tin fed my matcha latte fixes in the office!
Besides the baking possibilities, this little tin also fed my matcha latte cravingsĀ in the office!

My friend’s recipe is for mini Matcha White Chocolate Cheesecakes, but the very first time I attempted it, I forgot to buy the white chocolate! So I ended up with pure Matcha Cheesecakes

The first batch of matcha cheesecakes!
The first batch of matcha cheesecakes!

Of course, with me baking for probably the thirdĀ time in my life, this didn’t go without dramas.Ā Because I omitted the white chocolate from the recipe, I didn’t realise that this actuallyĀ reduces the overall cake ‘batter’ that would go into oven. As such, I should have reduced the timing of the cakes in the oven but I stuck to the recipe’s time of 30 minutes. In my hastiness to check out the results as well, I took the cakes immediately out of the oven, instead of leaving them to cool properly in the oven.

The result is that the top of the cakes cracked šŸ˜¦

A hint of the cracks at the side
A hint of the cracks at the side

It did make me sad as I stared atĀ myĀ ugly-lookingĀ cheesecakes. So I racked my brains to think of how to cover the cracked tops and I decided to stick some berries on it and dust them with some icing sugar! Indira also gave me a HUGE tip to use jam to stick the berries on the cakes and it worked – phew!

Taste-wise, the pure matcha cheesecakes were all right. My friends found them okay but I thought they were a little dry. So I just HAD to do it again, and follow the recipe properly!

The 2nd batch of matcha cheesecakes, this time with white chocolate!
The 2nd batch of matcha cheesecakes, this time with white chocolate!

Again, I had issues with the tops of the cakes!!! Grrr… It still cracked a little (although not as badly as the 1st time), and I had difficulty swirling the white chocolate and matcha properly, causing the tops to be uneven!

Sigh why are the tops uneven...
Sigh why are the tops uneven…

So yes, I had to disguise the ugly tops again with berries again. However, taste-wise, the combination of white chocolate and matcha was a winner. Ms CC commented that the concentration of the matcha taste was much stronger in this than the 1st round of pure matcha cakes. And this combination even converted Andrew who actually doesn’t like matcha!

So I knew I was onto something here and I was ready to give it a 3rd go. But along the way, I got distracted by another recipe

The next matcha adventure
The next matcha adventure

In the spirit of matcha and miniĀ cake-baking, I made them as mini Matcha Chiffon Cakes. ButĀ well, because this is the first time I was actually baking a cake, I was facing a slightly different set of ingredients and I had no idea that there was a difference between baking soda and baking powder (!!!). As I had used baking soda instead of the recipe’s baking powder and because I used the same amount of baking soda, it caused the batter to be a little bit bitter and the cake turned brown instead of staying green?? Argh…

Again, I felt sad looking at my mountain of mini brown cakes and in attempt to reduce the bitterness, I poked a hole in the middle of the cakes and filled them up with the left over white chocolate matcha ganache (which tasted pretty decent to me!). And then I covered up the holes in the middle with my ever-dependent berries! šŸ˜›

I actually felt a little embarrassed to serve these cakes up to my friends but by some strange twist of events, there was an incident whereby someone forgot to bring a birthday cake at a dinner and asked me for help. I then said I could bring my matcha chiffon cakes that were sitting in my fridge anyway…

An unexpected birthday cake(s)!
An unexpected birthday cake(s)!

In the end, everyone actually enjoyed the cakes – yay! To them, the cakes didn’t taste that bitter and they liked how light and fluffy the cakes were (as they are supposed to be chiffon cakes after all). The matcha white chocolate ganache got nods of approval as well (yay matcha & white chocolate for the win!).

So after that,Ā feeling slightly more confident, I went on my next attempt for the matcha & white chocolate cheesecakes…

The latest matcha attempt!
Excuse the ‘bleeding’ berries and terrible photo, but can you see that the tops are FINALLY smooth now??

Wooooo I was so happy when I took them out of the oven! I realised that it was the quality of the white chocolate that made a difference! The previous time, I had just used the Woolworth’s brand but for this attempt, I bought the Nestle Baking White Melts and the white chocolate turned out SO much smoother. I also made sure to let the cakes cool completely in the oven before taking them out. So no cracks there! But yea, I just thought adding some berries would bring some colour to the cakes – looks like berries are my signature now!

These cakes were actually meant to be given to a family in church and I was so happy they turned out decent enough to be given away. Heh. They told me that they enjoyed the cakes too! Ms CC had 1 cake from this batch and she said it was the best out of my attempts so far, as the texture was moist enough šŸ˜€

So that’s it for my matcha adventures for now – was that too much-a for you? Haha. So yes, I guess you can tell that I’ve overcome my fear of baking šŸ˜‰ Do you like matcha? Got any matcha recipes to share? Please do as I would certainly like to matcha-do a lot more in the future!

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