Hojicha Roll Cake

Smokey, earthy and toasty, hojicha is a form of roasted green tea. I particularly love the hint of its bitterness in sweet bakes. There is beauty watching the spindly dark leaves unfurl in warm milk. There is a term the Japanese like to use when describing sponge cakes, the texture should always be "fuwa fuwa" like clouds of cotton candy. To attain that level of fluffiness, air is constantly added into the batter, from the whisking and light meringue.


Makes 1

Ingredients

  • 47 Egg (about 1 medium egg)
  • 68 grams Egg yolks (about 4 medium eggs)
  • 30 grams Caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 55 grams Cake flour
  • 140 grams Egg whites (about 4 medium eggs)
  • 60 grams Caster sugar
  • 18 grams Unsalted butter - melted and cooled
  • 15 grams Whole milk
  • 3 grams Hojicha tea leaves
  • 190 grams Whipping cream (about 35% fat)
  • 15 grams Caster sugar
  • 5 grams Hojicha tea leaves

Directions

  1. 1. Prepare the cream the night before. Warm the cream in a saucepan with the tea leaves over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, be careful not to let it scald or boil. You want it to hit just before boiling. Remove from heat and let it infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the cream and measure that you have 190g of cream. If not, top up with more. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
  2. 2. Preheat oven to 180C.
  3. 3. Prepare your cake tin (32cm x 23cm x 3cm). Grease the tin and overlay it with two layers of baking paper. You’ll want to grease the top layer very very lightly.
  4. 4. Warm the whole milk and tea leaves over medium heat. Remove from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes. Strain the tea leaves and measure till you get 10g of hojicha-milk. Mix with the melted butter.
  5. 5. Sift the flour and whisk in the salt, make sure it’s fully incorporated.
  6. 6. Beat eggs, egg yolks and 30g of caster sugar over a Bain Marie (a hot water bath) until it hits 40C. It should become pale and fluffy, doubling in size. I used a hand mixer for this, but you can just use a whisk if comfortable doing so.
  7. 7. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on low speed initially and then slowly increasing the speed. It should not go over speed level 4. Once it starts to froth, add the 60g of sugar in 4 portions. Whisk until you get stiff peaks - pull the whisk out to check, the whites should be smooth, moist and shiny, and the tips can stand straight up.
  8. 8. Add a portion of the meringue into the egg-sugar batter and fold gently. Add half of the flour to the batter and fold gently again. Continue with the meringue, and then flour, and end with meringue. Make sure you fold quickly and gently, so as not to lose any air.
  9. 9. Add the hojicha milk-butter into the batter, and fold until full incorporated. Pour batter into your prepared cake tin. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly.
  10. 10. Bake for 14 - 15 minutes. Use a toothpick or cake tester to check for doneness.
  11. 11. Immediately remove the cake from its tin onto a clean baking paper on a wire rack. With one of the short ends of the sponge facing towards you, roll up the still-warm cake with the baking paper. Allow the cake to rest for 10 minutes, still rolled up in the baking paper (this 'trains' the cake for the final roll), then unroll the cake and set aside to come to room temperature. Let it cool completely, about 2 to 3 hours.
  12. 12. To make the cream, whip the prepared cream and sugar in a cold, deep bowl (I use a stand mixer with whisk attachment, but you can whisk manually or with a hand mixer). Begin on medium speed until you have soft peaks.
  13. 13. Use an offset spatula to spread the cream over the cake, leaving about a border of about 2cm without any cream on the short side of the cake furthest away from you. Then roll up the cake as you did before, use the baking paper to guide you once more. Refrigerate for an hour.
  14. 14. Before serving, use a serrated knife to cut both ends of the cake.

Notes

I use tea from Ippodo Tea.

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