A few years ago I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit Japan. It is very much a country of extremes. It’s possible to spend morning roaming around the old city of Nara visiting temples and hand feeding deer, hop on a bullet train and in the evening you can be wandering the back streets of Shinjuku reciting the script to blade runner.
These extremes extend to their food culture too. Japanese cuisine is largely considered to be one of the worlds healthiest, balanced, lower in calories and elegantly portioned. The contrast to this comes in their love of western-style desserts.
There are ice cream parlours that serve sundaes so big that they are ‘garnished’ with whole brownies and crepes filled with tiramisu and wedges of cheesecake. Why have just one dessert when you can have two? They really do have a sweet tooth in Japan.
The flavours of this are very much influenced by Japan but generally matcha roll, as this is also called, is filled with red bean paste. I’m not a fan of this so I’ve used lemon curd, I always drink my green tea with lemon so why not mix the two flavours in a cake too…
140g caster sugar
80g self raising flour
1 tbsp matcha (finely ground green tea)
1 tsp milk
zest of 1 lemon (grated)
2 tbsp of lemon curd
200ml of double cream
Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and thoroughly grease a 23cm x 32cm baking tray. Line the base with parchment.
Crack the eggs and put the whites and yolks into two separate bowls.
Put half of the sugar with the yolks and whisk together until they are pale, yellow and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornflour and whisk these in too. Once they are fully incorporated the mixture will be fairly dry but don’t panic too much.
Using a clean whisk, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Whisk in the remaining sugar so that you have a meringue type mixture. Mix a couple of tablespoons of this into the flour mix to loosen it. Carefully fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture in two or three batches, using a large metal spoon, so that you don’t lose too much air. Mix through the lemon zest.
Use a teaspoon to drop blobs of this mixture onto the prepared tray and then put this in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up a little.
Mix the matcha with the milk to form a paste and then gently stir this through the remaining sponge batter, so that the mixture has a uniform green colour.
Remove the baking tray from the freezer and very carefully pour the batter onto it, covering but not disturbing the blobs that you have already put on it. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the sponge is just starting to brown and feels firm with a little spring to it.
Once cooked, remove the sponge from the oven and leave it in the tray to cool for a couple of minutes.
Cover a lightweight chopping board with cling film. Lay out a tea towel and cover this with cling film too. Place the cling film covered board over the tray and flip it over to turn out the sponge. Peel off the baking parchment, this should reveal a spotty surface. If the edges of the sponge have got a bit crispy then it’s a good idea to trim them off now, it’ll make it much easier to roll up.
Place the second piece of cling film and the tea towel over this. Hold the tea towel tightly and flip the board over again, leaving the spotty side of the sponge on the bottom. Get rid of the chopping board and the top piece of cling film. Score along one of the short edges of the sponge, about 1cm in and carefully start to roll up the sponge. Use the cling film to help you and be sure to roll this up along with the sponge, so that the surface of the sponge doesn’t actually touch itself at any point. Put the seam at the bottom, wrap the tea towel around the roll and leave it to cool completely.
Whip the cream until it’s fairly stiff and thick.
If your lemon curd is very thick then it’s a good idea to thin it out a little by adding a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and warming it a little. It needs to be easy to spread.
Unroll the, now cooled, sponge and spread over the lemon curd, then the whipped cream. Don’t worry about spreading the cream right to the edges, it’ll only squash out when it’s rolled back up if you do.
Re-roll the sponge and place it, seam side down, on a serving plate.