Triple Layer Matcha Chocolate Cake

Layer cakes, Tea | 3rd July 2011 | By

It was a special occasion, a friend’s significant birthday, so a very special cake was called for. Since trying my matcha battenberg and hearing how many health benefits are attributed to matcha, my friend has been interested in acquiring some. Because of the elaborate process required to make matcha, it is not a cheap product to buy. So when Vitalife sent me a packet of cooking grade matcha to play with, I was delighted. I also thought using it to make a cake for said friend was the way to go. That was as far as I’d got in my thinking until I saw the very large birthday cake Dom recently made. He’d used chocolate cigarillos to edge his cake and it was an idea I was happy to pinch. To be fair, I had already decided a while back I would try decorating a cake this way after having seen Lorraine Pascale do it, but then I forgot about it – as I do. Dom reminded me with a vengeance and was also gracious enough to give me a link to the site where he obtained his cigarillos. That’s how a box of very fragile chocolate tubes arrived in the post. Tantalisingly, I could smell the chocolate emanating from the box as soon as I opened it – something I take to be a sign of good chocolate. Many of them were broken, which was a bit sad, but I had been warned on their website that this was a strong possibility. So not losing heart, I thought I’d use the broken bits to go on top of the cake. However, it wasn’t until they came that I registered their length – a massive 10 cm – ouch!

Well, I did want to make this cake particularly memorable, so the answer I reasoned was to make a triple layer cake and hope that would be high enough. Now, what to use to fill and coat it? I put a lot of thought into this one and changed my mind along the way. I was looking for contrast against the dark cigarillos. At one point I thought I’d use a matcha buttercream to coat the cake with; green looks quite striking contrasted against dark brown. On reflection though, I thought too much matcha would be overpowering, especially for people who may not have had it before, so I scratched that one. In the end I decided to go for a dark chocolate ganache to fill the layers and a light chocolate buttercream to coat the outside ending up with three contrasting colours. I’ve never made three layers before, so it was with a certain excitement that I set to with the following recipe.

  • Creamed 375g unsalted butter with 375g caster sugar with difficulty; the house was cold and it was hard to warm the butter, but I got to the light and fluffy stage in the end.
  • Beat in 4 large duck eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour mixture after each one.
  • Sieved in 375g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white), 2 tsp baking powder and 2 heaped tbsp of cooking grade matcha and stirred it gently in.
  • Stirred in 250g of Greek yogurt.
  • Spooned 1/3 into a 22cm cake mould and 1/3 into another, but had to wait for these to cook before I could bake the final 1/3.
  • Baked at 180C for 30 minutes. Left to cool for about 5 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Wrapped each cake up in greaseproof paper and covered with a tin as I wanted to do the icing and decorations on the day.
  • Brought 100ml double cream to the boil in a pan.
  • Took off the heat and added 100g 85% dark chocolate, 25g unsalted butter and 1 tbsp honey.
  • Left for 5 minutes for all to melt.
  • Stirred carefully until all incorporated then spread 1/2 on top of one cake, placed another on top of that and spread the rest of the ganache over this.
  • Stacked the final cake on top of this leaving it unadorned for the moment.
  • Left to set.
  • Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 250g icing sugar and a heaped tbsp of cocoa until pale and creamy.
  • Beat in 125ml of mascarpone.
  • Spread this over the top and sides of the cake.
  • Placed the cigarillos vertically around the edge of the cake.
  • Stuck some of the broken cigarillo shards into the top.

Overall, I was pleased with how the cake turned out, but I was not as thrilled as I might have been. When cooking two of the cakes together in the oven, I’d tried to be clever and swap their shelf position over half way through cooking – big mistake; the cakes didn’t rise properly. You can see the difference in the picture – the cake cooked on its own was fine. This of course meant the cake wasn’t as tall as I’d envisaged it, so after all that, the cigarillos were still a bit too high.

Anyway, though I say it myself, the cake looked pretty splendid and I think everyone was impressed with it. The birthday girl was certainly pleased.

In all honesty, I couldn’t tell the difference between the cooking grade matcha and the drinking grade matcha I’d previously used from Vitalife. Not in terms of baking anyway, so I would strongly recommend buying cooking grade as it is less expensive.


  1. Leave a Reply

    3rd July 2011

    Wow! What a great cake, love the colour and your presentation is very profesh! Lucky friend ;0)

  2. Leave a Reply

    3rd July 2011

    Looks a wonderful cake and I love the idea of the macha and chocolate together. Lovely presentation too

  3. Leave a Reply

    3rd July 2011

    Looks gorgeous – very impressive for an important birthday. I must investigate those chocolate cigarillos, they look amazing!

    Did your friend like the matcha?

  4. Leave a Reply

    Paula...SweetHarts Cakes and Bakes
    3rd July 2011

    That looks great,i am impressed! I like the cigarillos idea too. When i made mine i loved how i could hide any unsmooth imperfections in the frosting with the chocolate bars,and it was fun to do too 🙂 Must confess ive never even heard of matcha! It looks lovely,lucky birthday girl!

  5. Leave a Reply

    3rd July 2011

    Chele – occasionally I manage to pull all the stops out 😉

    Katie – thank you. I’ve become quite fond of the matcha chocolate combination. Love the colours and the flavour is good too.

    Jac – thank you. Feeling quite proud of myself for once!

    Alessandra – matcha in cake tastes really good.

    C – thank you. The cigarillos are so worth having for a special occasion – quite pricey though.

    Angie – thank you, I was quite impressed too 😉

  6. Leave a Reply

    3rd July 2011

    C – I knew she liked the matcha as she’d had some of the battenberg cake I made with it. But luckily, everyone else liked it too. It’s not a strong taste but distinctive.

    Paula – it’s a good way of hiding mistakes 😉

    Dom – thanks. Hope you’re having fun! At least you’re away from your non existent kitchen.

    BVG – thank you. Glad to say everyone seemed to enjoy it.

    Foodycat – am now enamoured of finishing cakes of like this, but don’t think I could afford to do it very often. Might have to be cadbury’s fingers in future.

  7. Leave a Reply

    4th July 2011

    Choclette, you’ve excelled yourself – what a magnificent and original cake!

  8. Leave a Reply

    4th July 2011

    What an amazing looking cake! Your friend must have felt spoiled rotten 🙂 I bet it tasted delicious!

  9. Leave a Reply

    4th July 2011

    All is well in the world… you’ve made an awesomeley massive cake. Special indeed.

  10. Leave a Reply

    4th July 2011

    This cake is so impressive. I’ve never tried matcha but I’m going to have to get some to experiment with soon.

  11. Leave a Reply

    5th July 2011

    Hello, We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM. We would like to add it to the Petitchef. We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us, enjoy your recipes.

    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members and benefit from their exposure. To add your site to the Petitchef family you can go to Petitchef and click on “Add your site”

    Best regards, Vincent

  12. Leave a Reply

    6th July 2011

    Janice – thank you

    Maggie – it’s going to be a hard one to beat I fear.

    Celia – thank you, it’s hard to know what I can follow this with :-S

    Catherine – thank you. I think she liked it.

    VBB – good to hear from you, especially when you say such nice things 😉

    Corina – the matcha flavour works really well in cake.

    Jay – thank you.

    Vincent – thanks for the invite.

  13. Leave a Reply

    The Caked Crusader
    7th July 2011

    Love the cigarillos around the edge – makes the cake look like a fortress that needs to be stormed i.e. eaten!

  14. Leave a Reply

    purabi naha
    7th July 2011

    This cake really looks delish and something I want to try out seriously. You have a great blog and your food photos left me drooling!

  15. Leave a Reply

    7th July 2011

    Gosh, that’s a stunning birthday cake! Love the idea of matcha with chocolate and great to know the cooking grade is just as good. I love the look of that slice being pulled at the bottom – gorgeous green matcha, topping, ooh, you know how to please everyone, don’t you? Fabulicious.

  16. Leave a Reply

    7th July 2011

    FG – thank you for your kind words and for following 🙂

    Pilar – thank you, I don;t get that accolade very often!

    CC – luckily, we came up to the mark 😉

    Purabi – thank you

    Jill – ahh, you say such lovely things.

  17. Leave a Reply

    8th July 2011

    Wow, that’s a beautiful cake!

  18. Leave a Reply

    10th July 2011

    That looks amazing! Beauttttifully done. I have to make a birthday cake soon, so I’m seeking any ideas I can.

  19. Leave a Reply

    10th July 2011

    CityHippy – constructing some sort of edging does make a cake look particularly striking. Good Luck.

  20. Leave a Reply

    11th July 2011

    This is one stunning cake. I am sitting here, just enjoying looking at it.

  21. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    11th July 2011

    this looks superb – truly a celebratory cake – I have got as far as buying matcha and dreamt of pairing it with chocolate but haven’t got around to using it – I love the idea of layer cakes but I just don’t have the sort of occasions that require them.

  22. Leave a Reply

    Baking Addict
    28th July 2011

    wow a truly impressive cake. I think I need to steal the cigarillo idea too! Where did you get it from?

  23. Leave a Reply

    buy rift account
    8th August 2011

    WoW! looks very delicious.. it makes me drool.=)

  24. Leave a Reply

    7th December 2011

    Just thought I’d let you know that I baked the cake a week ago and it turned out excellent! It took me and my brother about four hours start to finish, but it was definitely worth it 😉

  25. Leave a Reply

    8th December 2011

    Chaya – thank you

    Johanna – wondering if you have tried the matcha – chocolate pairing yet?

    Baking Addict – sorry for responding 5 months late! I’ll DM you the details.

    Anon – thanks for letting me know. Glad it turned out well and thanks for the photo 🙂

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