a natural beauty – matcha-azuki cake

a natural beauty – matcha-azuki cake

The annual tribal rite known as the Easter Parade in NYC brings out the colorful imaginative side in natives and visitors.  There’s the array of hats–traditional, whimsical, avant-garde, and down-right clever—during the ceremonial walk through Fifth Avenue, the central gathering place for the return of this diaspora. The fanciful pastel clothing flutters in the early season winds as they devoted perform the Ambassadors of Spring promenade. (I must confess that even this rabbit, who prefers basic black and grey, loves to splash it up with the pastel palette for a ritual compliance.)

Mother Nature can’t resist a celebration, so She responds with blooming of cherry blossoms, when for a couple of weeks, the world is dotted with the natural palette of pinks and whites.  Even vegetation-starved city dwellers have referred to the sight as “absolutely breath taking.” Always the consummate stage director, Mother Nature leaves mesmerizing blankets of petals on the ground when the blossoms fade away.

Pastels from nature also work well for consumables, too. This Matcha-Azuki Cake reminds me of spring and renewal, which we all need after winter overstayed its welcome.


Matcha-Azuki Cake w Azuki Meringue Icing


Matcha cake
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder
  • 2 tablespoons Canton (ginger liquor) or light rum
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cup (10-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
Azuki Meringue Icing
  • 1-1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 28 tablespoons (3-1/2 sticks or 14 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 28 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 cup sweetened azuki paste
  • Matcha cake layers
  • 1-1/2 cups sweetened azuki paste (red bean paste)
  • Azuki Meringue Icing, recipe to follow
  • Sugar flowers for decoration (optional)


Matcha cake

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375℉. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans, set aside.

2. Add matcha powder and Canton to a 2-cup measuring cup, stir until completely dissolved.  Add coconut milk and extracts, stir to combine, set aside. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, until combined, about 1 minute.

4. Reduce speed to medium-low and add 1/2 the flour mixture, mix until combine. Add coconut milk mixture. continue to beat until combined. Add remaining flour mixture, beat until a few streaks of flour remain, about 30 seconds. Remove mixing bowl and finish mixing with rubber spatula.

5. Divide batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 20-25  minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

6. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Azuki Meringue Icing

1. Place sugar, egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture registered around 160℉, about 3 minutes.

2. Transfer bowl to the mixer. with a whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. (don’t worry if buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added)

4. Switch to the paddle attachment, add vanilla, and beat on medium speed just until combined. Add azuki paste in 1/4 cup increments, beat until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Note: Buttercream can be stored in airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.


1. Slicet each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter. Spread 1/2 cup azuki paste evenly over cake layer; then a generous layer of icing over azuki paste; top with another layer. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.

2. Spread icing on top and side of cake. Decorate with sugar flowers, if using. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve.