Matcha Tea Layer Cake with Creamy Icing

This delicate cake was perhaps the most delicious ever…but it didn’t last long,  as many guests enjoyed several slices apiece! Somehow both satisfyingly rich and suprisingly light, this tea cake is made with such nutrient-dense ingredients that you can feel fine about going back for seconds. But maybe not thirds….

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Matcha is made with only the most tender top buds of Japanese green tea, which are shade-dried and stone-ground into a bright green powder. The vibrant hue comes from high levels of chlorophyll, amino acids, and antioxidants.

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I used a very finely powdered white rice flour, to provide a light, elegant texture, and a sweet taste. Brown rice flour would be ideal; just try to find some that is finely ground and smooth.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups finely ground rice flour

1 cup freshly grated mature coconut meat, or dried coconut soaked in water or coconut milk until rehydrated

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups finely ground jaggery (coconut sugar)

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut milk

1 1/2 cup soya milk

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp matcha powder

Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C/ Gas Mark 4

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then blend in the wet ingredients. Beat the batter well, until smooth. Grease two small (7″) cake pans with coconut oil and divide the batter evenly between them. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Let cool for one hour.

Meanwhile, prepare your icing!

INGREDIENTS:

1 block firm tofu

1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1 1/4 cup jaggery, finely ground to a powder

1 Tbsp matcha

It is possible to grind coarser coconut sugar into a fine powder, or at least finer granules, using a high-powered blender or spice mill. Combine this fine sugar with all the other ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. You may need to stop the blender, scrape the sides with a spatula, and blend again to ensure that the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Place the icing in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When the cake has cooled, run a butter knife along the edge of the pan, place a plate over it, and swiftly but gently turn it upside down. Your cakes should come out easily and cleanly. Allow them to sit until cool to the touch; they are then ready to be iced.

Choose one cake for the bottom and use a spatula to ice only its top with tofu cream icing about 1 centimeter thick. Carefully place the other cake on top and use the remaining icing to frost the whole cake. Sprinkle the cake with coconut and matcha, slice it carefully with a sharp knife (dip the knife in water to cut most cleanly), and serve with tea!

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Variation: Rather than make a layer cake, you can use this recipe to make one larger single cake. Simply choose a larger cake pan! You may have to adjust cooking times if your layer of batter is thicker; just keep an eye on the cake and test for doneness using a toothpick. Voila!

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Stellar Flax Crisps

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These most delicious crisps were inspired by a bite of the ones my best girlfriend had at Stella Natura, a music festival held in the forests of Northern California. She bought hers for a high price at the store, but you can make your own so easily and inexpensively at home, and they taste every bit as good.

On any diet it is crucial to include Omega-3 fat, and flax seeds are one of the best plant sources (the others include hemp and chia seeds).  I made these crisps with brown flax seeds, but you could also make them with the golden variety if it’s available. Rosemary also is known for its health-protective benefits, high antioxidants, and aromatherapeutic properties. These crunchy snacks are a powerhouse of nutrients!

Pair these aromatic crackers with dips such as herbed cashew cheese or sun-dried tomato pate. Make a lot, as they’ll keep well sealed in a cool, dry place, and if you want to share with your best girls!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flax seeds

1 1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon ground dried rosemary

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl and allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes while the flax seeds absorb the water to form a thick gel. Spread this gel thinly (about 1/4″) and evenly over a teflex sheet if you are using a dehydrator, or if using the oven, over parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Use a knife to score the edges of the crisps into squares, so that they snap apart easily when dried.

If using a dehydrator, set the temperature at 110* or 115* F and allow the crisps to dehydrate for about 6-7 hours, then carefully flip them over, remove the sheet, and dehydrate for at least another 2 hours, until the crisps are, well, crispy….

If using the oven, set your temperature as low as possible. You may want to open the oven a crack to keep the temperature low. This is important because the beneficial fats in the flax seeds are best kept “raw” (below 115*), as plant-based omega-3’s are somewhat fragile and may be deranged or go rancid from heating. Alternatively you may place the crisps in a very warm oven (up to 145*F is ok for short periods of time) and then turn off the heat for a few hours. Repeat this process until the crisps are crispy, and gently flip, remove the parchment, and repeat one more time if necessary.

Break the crisps along the scored edges, and voila! Easy, healthy, fragrant, and delicious crisps!

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