Soft Matcha Cookies

The first of 2021, and the first of many to come. This cookie has a beauty that one must taste to find, much like how you have to look closer at someone to realise the delicate point of a nose or dual-toned eyes. A soft, even-toned cookie, the silent, good kid at the front of the classroom. An experiment born from the convenient coincidence of craving something simple and light, while lacking ingredients to make something more complex anyway. It is plain, without even a hint of vanilla. Just the slightly bitter, grassy notes of matcha laced into a cookie, sugar still painted with the earth from which it came.

Some brief German sightseeing over the festive period while going walkabout

I think I won over my boyfriend’s housemates with these soft, mildly chewy matcha cookies. Matcha is not a huge deal here in Germany, much unlike the overly priced matcha lattés you find in almost every café in London or Singapore. The amount of matcha powder added is just right for 12 small-medium cookies, about the same amount needed to make a potent cup of matcha tea.

Recently I re-discovered this matcha powder, which I first used 2 years ago after being introduced to it here in Germany. It is sharp and earthy enough, and works brilliantly in tea or baking, while being extremely affordable. Highly recommend.

Look at those juice insides. I hope you like these delicate, delicious matcha cookies as much as I do.

Soft and Chewy Matcha Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 12 small cookies)

1 tsp matcha powder

165g plain flour

Pinch salt

1 tsp baking powder

165g white sugar

113g soft butter (vegan substitution: same amount of vegan butter/margarine)

1 egg (vegan substitution: 2 flax eggs– mix 2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp water in a small bowl and set that aside to gel for 2-3 minutes before using)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 190C and line a baking tray with baking paper. You may need two baking trays if yours are thin or small.

In a large bowl, cream together the soft butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, using a whisk or spatula. I used a metal fork and then switched to a rubber spatula to really work the two into each other. This will take 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the pinch of salt and the egg.

Place a sieve over this bowl and sieve in the flour, baking powder and matcha powder. Using a rubber spatula, fold in your dry ingredients until you get a smooth, playdoh-like consistency. It may be easier to use your hands towards the end. It should be soft and pliable, the dough holding together easily when squeezed, neither too dry nor too sticky and wet.

Roll small balls of dough with your hands and place the balls on your prepared baking tray. You should get around 10-12 balls. Slightly flatten the tops with two fingers. The cookies will not spread much, so you do not have to worry about placing the cookies far apart. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and let them cool for another 10 before serving. Best served plain, with black coffee.

Matcha White Chocolate Hotcake

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Hi there, time for your weekly dose of my word vomit.

Things I’ve appreciated the past week:

  • This place. It’s just such a fun and pleasurable shopping experience.
  • Making pancakes using pancake mix because it’s American Week (haha) at the grocery stores, mixing frozen blueberries into the batter and sandwiching the pancakes with cream cheese filling. Might do a separate post on this one, but all I have to say is the following: my name is Alex and I have finally made pancakes using pre-made mix. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Making lots of this. It’s the perfect vegan, slightly fudgy yet simultaneously fluffy mug cake. I love a lot of mug cakes for their general ease and convenience, but this is definitely one of my favourites. The optional chocolate is actually a must. And how simple!
  • This show is most certainly not overrated. Heavy on the crying, a well-paced storyline. Just the way it should be.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

A couple of weeks ago I taught someone who never tried matcha before how to make matcha tea, ‘with water first, not milk’, he insisted. I coughed and gave in. There’s a degree of maturity about matcha, even to the seasoned black coffee drinker (me). I drink my coffee black but when it comes to the green stuff, I almost always resort to adding a generous splash of oat milk to soften its edges. I do think believe that people who want to start drinking coffee should enjoy it naked, but matcha necessitates an easing into, a softer approach. Maybe a matcha latte first. I regret not recommending the latter to him; I have this bad habit of not thinking through something properly in the moment. When it comes to baking with matcha, you’re hard-pressed for another ingredient to overshadow its deeper, earthy notes. I was lucky to find a cheap tin of matcha at the Asian grocery store here. It’s almost been a month since I arrived and I’m still not even halfway done with it. 2.50€, would you believe it? Well I still don’t. I know that most places sell matcha powder at a much higher price so don’t feel pressured to burn a hole in your wallet just to make this- you’re also fine making this with half the amount of matcha.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
added banana at the end which is optional!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
with mascarpone, muesli and frozen raspberries

What I love about this hotcake is that, apart from its obvious matcha flavour, something I find lacking in a lot of matcha baking recipes, it’s perfect for sharing with others, or if you live alone, simply freeze whatever you have left and heat it up another time. It’s bouncy, fluffy, with melted white chocolate here and there surprising you at each bite. Matcha and white chocolate are like peas in a pod. Rich, bitter ground leaves with smooth and sweet chocolate. The darling of chocolates.

Key points:

  • DO use the stated amount of baking powder. It may seem like a lot but it’s necessary here
  • The low heat throughout is important, otherwise you will burn that hotcake. Yes, it happened the first time…
  • I added chopped banana to mine but this is optional, I thought it added a different depth of sweetness aside from the white chocolate to cut through the deeper notes of green tea.
  • I recommend using a wide, heavy-duty, nonstick pan that’s at least 9.5 inches. You risk burning the bottom too fast otherwise. Use a frying pan instead of a skillet because skillets are less sensitive to changes in temperature and don’t conduct heat as well. Save those for the oven recipes.
  • A lid for the pan is necessary to cook the top evenly while the bottom cooks, but if you don’t have one you can use a baking sheet. You might have to hold it steady because of its bulk but work with what you have!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Matcha White Chocolate Hotcake (for 3-4 people)

*indicates a vegan or gluten-free substitution that will be mentioned below the recipe. Please refer to the key points stated above to guide you.

Ingredients

1 egg*

4 tbsp or 28g sugar

0.5 tsp salt

120ml (1/2 cup) milk of choice

35g butter, plus 1 tbsp extra for the pan*

8g (almost 1 tbsp) baking powder

10g (1 heaped tbsp) matcha powder

100g (3/4 cup+2 tbsp) all-purpose flour*

25g (a medium handful) white chocolate, plus more for melting and drizzling on top afterwards (optional)

Optional add-ins: chopped banana or nuts

 

*vegan substitutions: use 1 flax egg instead of the egg. Make this by mixing 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water in a small bowl and let that gel for a while before you use it. Use vegan butter in place of regular butter. Coconut oil will work but avocado oil is a little too strong for this recipe.

*gluten-free substitution: substitute the all-purpose flour for the same amount of gluten-free flour blend or 120g of almond flour

 

Directions

Put the butter in a small microwaveable bowl and heat it in the microwave on high power for at least 30-40 seconds, or until melted. Let that cool for a couple of minutes until it reaches room temperature before using. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, sugar and salt. If you’re making the vegan egg, make sure the ground flax has gelled up first before mixing it with the other ingredients. Then whisk in the butter when it’s cooled down. Whisk until the mixture is pale and has a slight froth on top. In a separate small bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, baking powder, matcha powder and white chocolate.

Tip this dry mixture into the wet mix and mix everything together with a spoon until just combined. Add the optional add-ins (nuts/banana) at this point. Do not overmix. The mixture will seem thick but will drop off your spoon quite easily with a flick of the hand. Add 2 tbsp more milk if it looks too thick.

Get out your wide pan that’s at least 9.5 inches. You can get away with 9 but you must watch the bottom carefully and keep the heat very low. Put the pan on medium heat and add a generous tablespoon of butter to it. Once the butter is melted, tilt the pan at angles so it coats the entire surface. Add the matcha hotcake batter to the pan and spread it so it evenly coats the bottom with the bottom of a spoon. Put the lid on and let the hotcake cook for 5 minutes, occasionally lifting the lid to wipe off excess condensation. After 5 minutes you should see the edges turn slightly darker and there will be bubbles popping on the surface. At this point, reduce heat to low and continue to cook the hotcake for 7 more minutes, or until the surface is dry and a wooden stick inserted into the middle of the hotcake comes out with dry crumbs.

Cornflake-crusted Stuffed French Toast

4639330 Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Well, hi guys, it’s been a while. With everything seeming to happen at the same time, it feels almost strange to be typing on this platform again about things closest to my heart (aka sugar, spice and all things nice).

Above all, and most importantly, let there be french toast. The one food I will gladly eat every day three times a day. The one thing I love so much that I have a whole section in my recipe page dedicated to it.

There have been pockets of time in the past few weeks which have granted me access to memories only of the sweetest kind. I’ve tried making all sorts of fancy french toast get-ups, usually never with any regret (hello bagel french toast and black sesame french toast), although I have to say this childish cornflake-crusted banana-stuffed one is  not only a weekend winner, but a fanciful play on all things childhood-sweet. It’s any golden childhood memory on a plate– swinging through falling leaves on a swing, drinking hot chocolate by a fire.

3406785 Processed with VSCO with f2 preset2968802 Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

I understand that french toast isn’t considered french toast unless made with real, proper egg, so perhaps me going plant-based (it’s been over a year now) has put, on a subconscious level, the idea of good weekend french toast aside. But coming across multiple mouth-watering french toasts on Instagram and elsewhere on the www has made me determined to recreate a vegan version that’s just as good, and possibly better, than what most of us may find out there in the cafe-sphere. So if you’re quite the purist, go ahead and use real or vegan egg. But perhaps just once, try this combination of mashed banana, cinnamon and milk, which saturates your soft bread to the most ideal degree, resulting in french toast that’s neither too soggy nor rubbery. Oh, rubbery is the worst, isn’t it?

As human beings we require simple sustenance. But sometimes the simplest matters turn out to be the most delicious, and the smallest twist using something as ubiquitous and childish as cornflakes makes all the difference. Making a most delicious french toast right in your own kitchen is truly the most rewarding thing. Not much fuss, no wallet-burning, and a 100% goodness guarantee. So you can make this, and get back to whatever you’re doing the rest of the day, all the while knowing you’ve done something terribly good for yourself.

Quote of the day: ‘We are human beings, not human doings’

E517B76E-208B-4B1C-8507-4E187771B87B

4001039 Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Cornflake-crusted Cinnamon Banana French Toast (serves 1)

Ingredients

2 slices vegan brioche/ any soft bread of your choice

2 bananas, one mashed, and one sliced thickly at a slight angle.

60ml (1/4 cup) almond milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

handful of cornflakes

3 tbsp brown sugar

vegan butter for caramelising

handful of frozen berries (optional)

icing sugar (optional, for decoration)

Directions

Place the cornflakes in a bowl and use your (clean, hopefully) hands to crush them into chunks. Pour the cornflakes into a shallow dish. Don’t worry if you are left with quite a few larger chunks– this will only give more texture to your french toast. In another bowl, use a fork to briefly mix together your french toast batter– the mashed banana, almond milk and cinnamon. Don’t worry about little chunks of banana in there. Add a pat of vegan butter or oil to a medium nonstick pan to start making the caramelised banana.

Once the pan is hot, add a little more vegan butter to the pan, together with the brown sugar. Add the sliced banana to the hot pan and let it caramelise for a minute. Once the side facing down is a nice caramelised golden colour, use a spatula to flip the banana slices and cook the other side. Once the bananas are nicely soft and caramelised, set them aside in a bowl while you make the french toast. Leave the pan on medium heat.

Dip both sides of one of the bread slices into the mashed banana mixture, then dip one side into the crushed cornflakes. Repeat for the other bread slice. Place the cornflake-side of one bread slice onto the hot pan to cook, add the caramelised bananas on the side facing up. Add the handful of berries if you wish– I think it adds a lovely tang to cut through all that sweet chimerical flavour. Then close your french toast sandwich with the other slice of bread. Once the side facing down has been cooking for a minute or so, use your spatula to check if that side is golden-crisp and cooked. If it is, flip the sandwich over and cook the second side.

Once finished, cut your french toast sandwich on the diagonal, then top with any leftover caramelised banana you have, and a sprinkling of icing sugar. Serve with more berries and a splosh of yoghurt. HELLO Saturday.

Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The longest flight cannot deter me from the baking buzz. Oh, sweet, unfailing kitchen and oven!

All at once, 2015 is behind my shoulder, at the top of my head, and heavy in my heart. As I was scrolling through my old posts and reading my personal diary, I realised how important and special this little place has become to me– never did I think it would grow into such a shrine of my passion. I’ve sometimes blurred the line between personal thought (which explains the existence of my diary, something I’ve kept for 10 years and counting!) and just rambling on about cake and anything to do with sugar, but I’ve learnt to embrace that once in a while, and it’s only enhanced my excitement over writing about anything in general. With a long, hard year ahead, I’m determined to keep it close, despite all the work I know I will face during the long run.

I don’t think this post would be complete without a little more on the main inspiration behind this recipe– Japan!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Amazing food, small kitsch gadgets, overwhelming magnanimity. If there’s a country that’s got tourism down pat, it’s the Land of the Rising Sun. Oh, and not forgetting heated toilet seats. Really. That’s always a plus.

Afterwards– a solid, foreign calm. Back to the heat, the familiarity of my favourite tiny island, though admittedly, and as a friend put it so well, it feels so weird not to be held accountable for anything anymore, then suddenly be thrust into the routine of family fun. It does require some getting used to.

The taste of Japanese food after a good 3 months without the stuff was almost a spiritual experience. Just imagine– the freshest uni possible (mildly rough texture that gives way to buttery insides, mmph), slippery, thick slices of fresh pink otoro (fatty tuna), and of course… green tea.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Green tea kit kat, green tea mochi, green tea… everything, really. We came across so many different varieties of matcha (the finely ground powder of specially grown green tea) chocolates, in other words the main inspiration for the final product:

fluffy matcha baked doughnuts, stuffed with nutella and covered in a matcha glaze.

You see it, I see it. It’s got all the goods, and anything stuffed with chocolate/hazelnut chocolate spread is a win. Based off my previous recipe for maple bacon doughnuts (I implore you to try these at some point in your life as well), the results were lush– fluffy, cake-like doughnut base, a slight twang of sponge in there, gooey nutella in the middle, and a glaze that speaks loudly of matcha instead of simply being a sugar overload.

The addition of spice is simply my excuse for not being around during Christmas do indulge in the usual Christmas baking routine, but it adds another level of flavour that propels this simple recipe to something that much more festive. By all means, leave the spices out if you prefer a more straightforward chocolate-matcha pairing.There’s something about the pairing of the mild bitterness present in all that matcha, and rich milky hazelnut chocolate that’s unbeatable on a Sunday afternoon, coffee and book in hand. Right, let’s do this.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts (makes 6 doughnuts)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

75g (1/3 cup) white sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

120ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

28g (2 tbsp) unsalted, melted butter

~1/3 jar of nutella/melted dark chocolate (the quantity is up to you)

 

For the matcha glaze:

115g icing sugar

1 tsp matcha powder

2 1/2 tbsp whole milk

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C and grease a doughnut pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, matcha powder and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. (tip: it helps to have all your ingredient at room temperature for even, stress-free mixing). Tip your dry mix into the wet mix and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until everything is well combined.

Take a tablespoon of batter and place at the bottom of a doughnut mold, spreading so it coats the bottom (you don’t want too many chocolate leaks) and goes about halfway up the side. Using two teaspoons or a piping bag (or use a small ziploc bag with the tip cut off), line the middle of each doughnut with nutella/any chocolate spread or even melted chocolate. Do this 6 times for 6 doughnuts, then place the molds in the preheated oven and bake for exactly 8 minutes. I find that the shape and size of the doughnuts are perfect if you fill the molds 3/4 of the way with batter, rather than all the way. Once you take them out of the oven, the doughnuts will feel soft and tender to the touch, with a gentle rise and the gentlest browning on top. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack while you make the icing (thankfully, it doesn’t take long).

For that, simply whisk together the icing ingredients and set aside to use once the doughnuts are cool, else it will melt everywhere. After 10 minutes, remove the doughnuts from their molds,and dip one side into the bowl containing the matcha icing, then place right way up again on the cooling rack to let any excess icing drip down the sides.

Eat right away, or store in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 1-2 days, or the fridge for up to 4 days. The sooner, the better!

Matcha and Vanilla Banana Pancakes

It just demanded variation. Make it shine in a different light. I’m talking about my favourite ever recipe for supremely thick and fluffy pancakes. When I wrote that post, I found it hard to deliver the goods without feeling as if nothing I typed could truly justify how impressed I was with the outcome. The same may be said for these.

I modified the base batter a little, added matcha powder to half of it, and incorporated mashed banana into the wet ingredients. Result: Fantabulous, and that’s saying something, because I hate that word but somehow its gaudy talkshow-esque nature fits the bill here.

I talked enough about how wonderfully soft and fluffy and phenomenal these pancakes are (click the link above!!), so enough talk, more action now.

Matcha and Vanilla Banana Pancakes (makes 10-11 medium-sized pancakes)

Ingredients

188g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

1 tbsp white sugar

1 banana, mashed

2 heaping tsp green tea (matcha) powder

generous pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

50g unsalted butter (slightly less than 4 tbsp)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp honey

240ml (1 cup) milk of choice

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and leavening agents). In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in a microwave and set it aside, letting it cool for a couple of minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla, honey, mashed banana and melted butter.

For this recipe which makes both vanilla and matcha pancakes, both the dry and wet mixes must be halved. My dry mix totalled to 210g, so I put half of that (105g) into a separate empty bowl. To one of the dry mix bowls, whisk in the matcha powder. Do the same for the wet mix (I weighed that too and found that half of the wet mix totalled to 200g, however only 180g of the liquid mixture needed to be added to the dry in order to achieve the perfect consistency). You should have 4 bowls– 2 dry and 2 wet, with one of the dry mix bowls containing the matcha powder. Pour the wet mixes into the respective dry mix bowls, and stir slowly with a metal or wooden spoon until justt combined, which means there will still be a few lumps, but no more streaks of flour. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy.

Preheat your pan on medium heat and ready some butter. You know the pan is hot enough when you flick a little water onto its surface and there’s a clear sizzle. At that point, generously butter the pan and ladle around a quarter cup (you might not need all of it) of batter. Shape if needed to form a nice circle. Wait for just a few little craters to form on the surface before flipping, which will take a couple of minutes. I didn’t have to wait for bubbles to pop before flipping; the batter is thicker than usual and there’s no need to wait. Flip the pancakes when you notice the edges stiffening a little, or when you can slide your spatula whole underneath the bottom of the pancake. It will rise a little upon flipping, as if that action gives it life, and hence, breath. The surface should have that familiar brown mosaic. Once the second side is done (will take no more than half a minute, usually), let cool on a paper towel or in a warm oven. As mentioned above, these freeze wonderfully, so you can make a whole batch, have one or a couple and stash the rest in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Et voila.