A very simple and straightforward pound cake recipe with matcha (Japanese green tea powder), without the use of any baking soda and baking powder.
The very first cake I learn to bake is a butter cake. In the US, it is more common to refer to a butter cake as a pound cake. There is never a wrong time to enjoy a good pound cake, with its buttery taste and soft and tender texture in every bite.
This pound cake recipe is the most classic version, using nothing but butter, eggs, sugar, and all-purpose flour. The only update it gets is the addition of matcha (Japanese green tea powder) to give it a new exciting twist, with an elegant green tea flavor and a lovely green color.
Ingredients for a matcha pound cake
Do you know why a pound cake is called a pound cake? It’s because originally, the recipe for this cake calls for 1 pound of each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.
We are going to make a half-recipe or half of a traditional pound cake, and we will bake the cake in an 8.5”x4.5” loaf pan. Most classic pound cake recipes usually will ask you to bake the cake in two 8.5”x4.5” loaf pans.
We will need these ingredients:
- 2 sticks (250 gram, or 1⁄2 lb) unsalted
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200 gram, or 7 oz) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups (240 gram, or 8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
Unsalted vs. Salted Butter
I am using unsalted butter because that’s what I usually have in my kitchen. You can also use salted butter too, but remember to omit the salt.
I love a slightly less sweet cake, and hence the amount of sugar I use is not 250 gram (1⁄2 lb), but only 200 gram (7 oz). If you love a sweeter cake, feel free to increase the sugar to 250 gram (1⁄2 lb) instead.
All-Purpose Flour vs. Cake Flour
If you want a lighter cake texture, you can use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Also, if you are a novice baker, or if this is the very first time you are baking a pound cake, using a cake flour usually guarantees a higher success rate to get that light cake texture.
Matcha (Japanese Green Tea Powder)
Depends on the brand of matcha you use, you may end up with a different shade of green. The best ones are usually reserved for tea ceremony, and some sometimes indicate it as such in the packaging. If you don’t know which one to get, I highly recommend giving Maeda-En matcha a try.
Weigh your ingredients with a scale
I know I give the ingredients with a volume (cup) measurement and also a weight measurement. But for a better success rate, I strongly encourage weighing the ingredients with a scale.
Baking needs some precision, and even a cheap scale helps to give a consistent baking results every time, saving you time and money while helping you avoid failed recipes and wasted ingredients.
Just to give an example, the correct way to measure flour by volume is to first fluff/loosen the flour in its container, then use a spoon to scoop into the measuring cup, and finally use a knife to level the flour across the cup.
Unfortunately, most people simply dip their measuring cup into the flour container and scoop out the flour. On average, you will end up with 50% more flour than you need if this is what you do!
The easiest way to avoid this is to simply buy a scale. Even if you will only be baking once a month, having a scale will help tremendously.
Make sure the ingredients are at room temperature
Room temperature has a range between 20-23 Celsius or 70-75 Fahrenheit.
I store my sugar, salt, flour, and matcha in my pantry cupboard, so they are always at room temperature. The only ingredients I need to make sure are at room temperatures are my butter and eggs.
Room temperature butter
To check that your butter is at room temperature, use your index finger to make an indentation. If you can’t create any indentation, it’s still too hard. If the indentation doesn’t keep its shape, it’s too soft. When butter is at room temperature, you should be able to make an indentation, and the shape holds.
Why is room temperature butter so important? It’s because you will be able to cream the butter easily, and you can incorporate the most air into the butter while creaming the butter. Not enough air in butter will lead to a dense cake.
Room temperature eggs
Making sure the eggs are at room temperature will ensure you can incorporate the most air and helps the eggs retain that air once they are mixed into the batter. Again, the idea is to avoid ending up with a dense cake.
Preparing a pound cake batter
A classic pound cake doesn’t rely on baking powder or baking soda, and thus, it is crucial to be correct and exact when you mix the ingredients. The only thing that determines the success of your pound cake is whether or not you incorporate enough air in the batter.
1. Cream the butter
Using a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, cream the room temperature butter until it’s light, fluffy, and creamy. Be sure to use a medium speed (at most!), so you can slowly incorporate air into the butter. It should take around 7-8 minutes just to cream the butter.
2. Add sugar
Once the butter is fluffy, add the sugar. Be sure to add sugar in a thin steady stream. Dumping all the sugar at once will deflate the butter while adding them in a thin steady stream will cream the butter and sugar together evenly while adding even more air.
3. Add eggs
Again, we want to make sure we don’t deflate the batter, so be sure to add the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. This usually means around 30 seconds per egg, or until the egg yolk has disappeared, before adding the next egg.
Once the final egg is fully incorporated, stop beating the mixture. Over-beating eggs will make your cake collapse after baking!
4. Add flour, salt, and matcha
Sift together all-purpose flour, salt, and matcha. Do this for 3 times to ensure an evenly distributed matcha. And if possible, sift the dry ingredients into the cake batter.
If you want to keep using your hand-held mixer or stand mixer, be sure to use the lowest speed setting, and only mix until the flour is incorporated, and not any second longer.
If at all possible, use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients.
It is absolutely important you don’t overwork the gluten in the flour, or you will end up with a tough and dense pound cake.
Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour can help tremendously to ensure a lighter cake.
Baking the pound cake
Make sure your oven has been preheated to 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for at least 10 minutes prior to baking the cake. If possible, use an oven temperature so you know you are using the correct temperature.
With the correct temperature, the cake should be fully baked in 70 minutes. If your cake ends up too dry, your oven may be too hot. And if it’s still not done after 70 minutes, your oven temperature may be too low.
Metal vs. glass cake pan
I am using a light color aluminum cake pan. A darker color metal pan usually will bake faster, so be sure to check about 10 minutes earlier for doneness.
If you use a glass pan, you may want to lower the temperature by 25 Fahrenheit. So instead of 350 Fahrenheit, you will want to bake the cake in a 165 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit) oven instead. And you may need to bake the cake longer, for another 10 minutes.
Level the cake batter
Be sure to grease and flour the loaf pan before adding the cake batter. Spread the cake batter evenly in the pan, and all the way to the corners as well. Also, be sure to smooth the top.
Tenting the cake
If during baking, the cake seems to be browning too quickly, feel free to tend the cake by cutting a piece of aluminum foil and place it on top of the cake. Especially during the final 15 minutes of baking.
Serving the cake
Once the cake has finished baking, remove the cake from the oven. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 minutes, then run a thin blade along the edges to loosen the cake, and carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.
Pound cake matures over time. So if you are patience, you will be rewarded with a more flavorful cake if you wait until the second or the third day to slice and serve the cake. Store the whole fully cooled cake wrapped in a saran plastic in the fridge prior to slicing and serving.
For longer storage, wrap the cake in several layers of saran plastic and freeze for up to 3 months.
I usually enjoy my pound cake plain, with a glass of black coffee. But if you wish, you can serve your pound cake with some lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
Tips and Tricks
Using a different size pan
You can bake the cake in a 9.5”x5.5” pan, but the cake will bake faster. Be sure to check on the cake after 45-50 minutes.
Make a marble pattern
If you wish, you can divide the butter, sugar, and egg batter into two. Add only all-purpose flour and salt into the first batter, and then add all-purpose flour, salt, and matcha into the second batter. You can create a marble matcha pound cake using these two different colored batters.
First, pour half of the plain batter into the prepared pan, follow with half of the matcha batter, then again half of the plain batter, and finally, the remaining half of the matcha batter. Swirl with a skewer/chopstick and you should end up with a marbled pattern pound cake.
Separate egg yolks and egg whites for a lighter cake
For a lighter cake, separate the eggs before you begin. Once you beat the butter and sugar, beat in just the egg yolks. Separately whisk the egg whites until stiff peak, then fold the egg whites into the butter, sugar, egg yolk mixture until combined.
Adding baking powder
For an added insurance, you can add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients. But if you beat the butter, sugar, and eggs properly, you shouldn’t need to resort to adding baking powder for a light pound cake.
If you do everything properly and correctly, and then you add the baking powder, your cake may overflow from the cake pan! So if you really want to add the baking powder, I highly suggest using a 9.5”x5.5” loaf pan instead. Just be sure to check for doneness earlier.
Matcha Pound Cake
- 2 cup / 240 gram / 8.5 oz all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
- 2 sticks / 250 gram / 0.5 lb unsalted butter, room temperature (Note 1)
- 1 cup / 200 gram / 7 oz sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- mixer (hand-held or stand)
- 8.5-inch x 4.5 inch aluminum loaf pan (Note 2)
- Preheat oven to 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Grease the loaf pan with butter and dust lightly with flour to coat. Shake off excess flour, and set aside.
- Sift together all-purpose flour, salt, and matcha. Do this 3 times to ensure an even distribution of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Cream butter with a medium speed until light, fluffy, and creamy. About 7-8 minutes.
- Add sugar in a thin steady stream and mix well. If you are using a hand-held mixer, you may want to add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, cream together butter and sugar for another 3 minutes.
- Add egg, one by one, and mix well. It usually takes about 30 seconds per egg. Please make sure all the egg yolk is incorporated before adding the next egg.
- Add the dry ingredients (spatula option): Stop the mixer, then sift in about 1/4 of the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until the flour is just incorporated. Repeat 3 more times with the remaining flour. Stop once there are no more dry bits of flour in the batter.
- Add the dry ingredients (mixer option): Reduce the mixer speed to the lowest setting. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients and mix for a few seconds until incorporated. Repeat 3 more times. Make sure to stop the mixer immediately once the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 65-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly, be sure to tent the cake in the final 15 minutes of baking.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a thin blade along the edges to loosen the cake, then gently remove the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- Store the cake wrapped in saran plastic for a day or two prior to serving. You can also freeze the cake for up to 3 months.
- To serve, cut the pound cake into thin slices. Serve plain, with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar, or with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries.
- (1) If using salted butter, be sure to omit the salt.
- (2) If using a darker color metal pan, be sure to check for doneness 10 minutes earlier. If using a glass pan, set the oven temperature to 165 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit), and bake for 10 minutes longer.