My kitchen is so close to the end. There are just a couple hardware pieces that need to be shipped, and a cabinet panel or two that needs to be screwed in and aligned. But I'm so close. SO CLOSE. Soon you guys will have all the before and after pictures I've been teasing you with on Instagram, but taken with my big-girl camera to capture the big picture, as well as the nooks and crannies. Soon!
I can't believe that I lasted two months without a kitchen. I'm not going to lie — those two months without a kitchen were painful, painful, painful. Erlend and I got around the lack of an oven and a range with grilling, sandwiches, and salads, but I'll be honest with you: I'll be a happy girl if I don't ever eat one of those things again, for a long time. No, really. I need at least a six month break from anything grilled or raw. Or eating out for that matter. I used to love eating out, but these days, all I want to do is stay in and make myself eggs.
I've baked a couple things in the kitchen so far — first, there were those failed cupcakes that didn't make it onto the blog, but I eventually finagled those into these beautiful salted chocolate, pistachio and raspberry pots de creme. Then came this matcha marbled pound cake:
Looking at the humble loaf above, I will admit to being slightly disappointed after pulling it out of the oven. Loaves always just look so bleh by themselves, just a weird heavy lump of a baked good with an unsightly crack or two up top. This loaf, while delicious, just looked too boring to merit its status as one of the first baked goods to come out of my kitchen. So I decided to gussy it up with some white chocolate glaze and fresh blackberries from a local farm.
This was a BIG MISTAKE.
I'd fallen into the trap of over-designing my recipe and ruining the final product — that is, throwing together too many damn flavors and drowning out the subtleties. Why bother having so many flavors if you can't taste any at all? Because sure enough, the white chocolate overpowered the cake's subtle green tea flavor, and the blackberries' tart, fresh flavor. So what even was the point of having a matcha swirled pound cake if I couldn't even taste the matcha? Might as well have made a plain-jane vanilla loaf.
So I decided to make it again. This time, I decided to keep it simple and pair the matcha cake with a straightforward blackberry and brown sugar compote. It was absolutely wonderful; the blackberry compote added a tartness to the pound cake, pairing wonderfully with its delicate green tea and vanilla flavor. Spooning the compote over the cake was a wonderous act — the cake absorbed the juices from the compote like a sponge, and every bite was so incredibly melt-in-your-mouth moist:
Let me declare this now: blackberry and green tea is a combination that people do not use often enough. I'm hoping that one day, some day, I'll flip open the latest edition of The Flavor Bible, a canonical cookbook dedicated to indexing ingredients and all the other flavors they pair with (seriously — if you are a serious cook or baker, you need this book), and find my blackberry and green tea combination written there. But for now, this recipe is my contribution to helping it get set in stone.
Some baker's notes:
- Matcha is a vivid green powder made from compressed green tea leaves; you can also use it to make green tea, matcha lattes, and of course, baked goods. Matcha usually has a "grade", which is determined by the age of the leaf that is milled for the tea. Ceremonial grade matcha is made with younger leaves are more delicate and flowery, and ultimately used for traditional tea ceremonies in Japan. As a result, it is very expensive. I would recommend getting culinary grade matcha, which isn't as delicate (quite frankly, ceremonial grade matcha will probably have too delicate of a flavor for baking), but is within a more reasonable price point. It is available online, specialty tea stores (Portlanders — you can buy it at my favorite tea shop, Townshend's Tea, by the ounce!) and some Asian super markets.
- Not really a baking or a culinary tip, more a word of caution: this blackberry brown sugar compote stains like a jerk. Don't wear white when you're making it, and godspeed if you have marble countertops. Wipe up any spills immediately. Don't say I didn't warn you.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons matcha powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 16 ounces fresh blackberries
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 375 (F) and prepare a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan by spraying generously with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Lower the mixer speed to its lowest setting and add 6 eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg after the first egg has been incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
- Once all the eggs have been incorporated, continue mixing at low speed and add the flour mixture (from the 2nd step), mixing until just combined — DO NOT OVERMIX. In fact, it's better to have a flour streak or two left in the batter at this stage, since you'll be mixing more ingredients in by hand shortly.
- Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. In one bowl, add 2 teaspoons matcha powder; in the other, add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients into their respective batters.
- Once the green tea and vanilla extract has been incorporated into the cake batter, spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, alternating scoops from the matcha batter and vanilla batter. To create marbling, run a table knife through the batter in a swirling motion — take care not to overmix or you'll end up with an all-matcha cake! Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the batter.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the plan comes out clean. If the edges start to brown too quickly with the center remaining moist, cover the edges of the pan loosely while keeping the center of the cake exposed. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before turning out the cake into the rack to cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, combine 16 ounces fresh blackberries, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries become soft and juicy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.