A couple of months ago, I accompanied writer Tarajia Morell (The Lovage) to Ippodo to photograph the fine art of matcha making, sample some high quality green teas and meet the family behind the 300 year old green tea business.
Ippodo has a wonderful history, it was founded in 1717 next to the imperial palace in Kyoto. They are fanatical about quality, and have a reverence for the tea they source and serve in their stores. For now the only Ippodo outside of Japan is in midtown Manhattan, a lucky thing for us New Yorkers. Visiting this spot on East 39th Street is like taking a little trip to Japan even if just for a sweet, brief moment.
It was an honor to be included in this afternoon and a reminder of how beautiful it is when pride and respect for your work translate into a quality experience for others. That idea of shokunin I have evoked before. Ippodo actually means “preserve one”.
If you have a moment check out the beautifully illustrated ‘how to’ make matcha tea on the Ippodo website.
MATCHA COCONUT CAKE (GLUTEN-FREE)
This recipe is inspired by the gorgeous cake Nigella Lawson made in the last issue of Cherry Bombe, one of my favorite zines that celebrates smart, cool, women in food. It was a friend’s birthday and I really wanted to make Nigella’s beautiful cake, but it seems all my friends are gluten-free and barely eating sugar anymore so I reconstructed it as a healthier version and it came out fantastic! Moist from coconut oil, not too sweet, perfect for tea, or for dessert accompanied by strawberries lightly macerated in lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.
1 tablespoon high quality matcha powder (It’s the flavor base for the whole cake so good quality is important)
⅓ cup hot water
4 large eggs
¼ cup virgin coconut oil, gently melt if solid
¾ cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
just shy of a ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ cup superfine sugar (I actually used a little bit less than that and it was perfect for me, it made more of a tea cake than a dessert)
organic confectioner’s sugar for dusting
1 x 8 inch springform cake pan
Preheat oven to 350F. Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper cut to size.
Spoon matcha powder into a small bowl and whisk in hot – but not boiling water – whisk until smooth. If the water is too hot the matcha will turn bitter. Let cool slightly.
Crack egg whites into a medium bowl and mix with an electric whisk until you get soft peaks. Add 3 tablespoons of superfine sugar and continue to whisk until just mixed in. Set aside.
Pour egg yolks into a large bowl, add remaining sugar and whisk until pale. Then whisk in matcha mixture and add coconut oil. Sift in gluten free flour and xanthan gum and mix. Add a large dollop of the egg white mixture and fold in, then do the same with the rest.
Pour the mixture into the springform pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not open the oven door for the first 20 minutes.
When it’s ready, turn off the oven, open the door to the oven and leave it open half way to let the heat escape. After 10 minutes you can pull it out and let it cool on a rack. When cool, run a spatula around the edge of the cake and unspring it from the pan. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the bottom and dust the top with confectioner’s sugar.