Matcha Green Tea Babka with Black Sesame Swirl

Or the day that someone bought every single jar of tahini from the shops.

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I needed tahini for my Moutabbal dip and for this recipe and boy was it a struggle to find.

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Anyways, this recipe is one of the steps in my quest to use the giant bag of matcha powder I bought from Costco.

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It’s a pretty loaf with a swirl of aromatic black sesame through it. I would probably roll my dough out flatter so I can get more rolls in next time though, since I didn’t get as much filling in the bread as I wanted.

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Matcha and black sesame is a pretty classic flavour combination in East Asian bakeries.

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I got the recipe from here but needed more water and also changed the way the bread was kneaded. I also added tahini into the filling.

Ingredients (makes 1 babka, my loaf pan was about 9x4x4 inch/23x10x10 cm)

Matcha bread

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4g instant yeast
  • 344g all-purpose flour
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 1/2 large egg (85g)
  • 1/2 egg yolk (9g)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of water (if needed)
  • 64g unsalted softened butter, room temperature

Black sesame filling

  • 70g unsalted butter, softened (5 tbsp)
  • 50g cup granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 1/2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp tahini

Syrup

  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 25g sugar (1/8 cup)

Method

Matcha bread

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the water and butter together into a large bowl. Gradually add the water, adding just enough until the dough comes together to form a soft dough (you might not need all the water). Knead well until the dough is smooth.
  2. Knead in the butter until the butter is well incorporated.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size (about 2 hours).

Black sesame filing

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until well combined and the black sesame seeds are well ground up.

Syrup

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Knock back the matcha dough and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle which width is the length of your pan.
  2. Cover the rectangle with the sesame filling.
  3. Roll up the dough like a Swiss roll from the short end, ending with the seam at the bottom.
  4. Gently cup the dough into half lengthwise. Arrange each half cut-side up
  5. Twist the two halves together, with the cut-side still facing up.
  6. Place the twisted dough into the bread pan. Cover, and let rise until it nearly reaches the top of the container (about an hour).
  7. Give the bread an optional light egg wash, being careful not to mess up the swirl pattern.
  8. Bake in a preheated 160°C/325°F oven for about 75 mins, or until the internal temperature of the bread is about 93°C/200°F measured with a food thermometer. Or when you tap the bread it sounds hollow.
  9. While the bread is still warm, brush the sugar syrup onto the bread.
  10. Let cool in the pan for about 5-10 mins before turning them out of the pan and cooling them completely on a wire rack.

Notes

  • It’s really awkward to measure 1/2 an egg so if you have enough mouths to feed this recipe will be easier to make if doubled.
  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature.
  • If you’re using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, you might have to activate the yeast first. Warm up the milk that was supposed to go into the bread till it’s about body temperature, and then add the yeast into the milk. When the mixture is foamy (about 5-10 mins later), add the yeast-milk back into the bread at the step where the milk is supposed to be added.
  • Kneading the butter into the dough after it’s already been formed helps with the structure of the bread, since butter inhibits gluten formation (apparently).
  • Don’t cut into the bread while it’s still too hot or the steam will escape and your bread will dry out.
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Choux au Craquelin with Matcha Namelaka (Green Tea Cream Puffs)

Or how to make something sound as pretentious as possible.

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So choux au craquelin is basically a cream puff with a crunchy, crumbly sweet biscuit layer baked on top of it.

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It’s kind of similar in concept to Japan’s melon pan, or Hong Kong’s bo lo bao.

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But to me the real star of this confection is the filling – namelaka.

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Japanese for “smooth”, it tastes like a cross between a ganache and pastry cream which combines the best elements of alternative fillings. It has the silkiness of chocolate, the lightness of whipped cream, the structural integrity of creme patissiere. It can be easily impregnated with a variety of flavours. If you adjust the gelatine amount, you can get it to a more pipeable consistency. And it can do all of the above without falling into the downfall of many desserts – being too sweet.

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I got the recipe for the choux from Dorie Greenspan, but changed the proportions because I definitely ended up with too little choux pastry for the amount of craquelin I had, and reworded some steps. The base for the namelaka is from here, although I adjusted it for white chocolate.

And of course, I made everything matcha flavoured.

Ingredients (makes about 18 puffs)

Matcha white chocolate namelaka

  • 300g whole milk
  • 15g corn syrup
  • 8g gelatine (I used Knox gelatine)
  • 63g water
  • 578g white chocolate
  • 600g whipping cream
  • 2 heaped tsp matcha powder (to taste)

Choux pastry

  • 180g whole milk (3/4 cup)
  • 180g water (3/4 cup)
  • 170g butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 205g all purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 large egg whites (about 60g)

Matcha Craquelin

  • 64g cool unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (4 1/2 tbsp)
  • 100g brown sugar (1/2 cup lightly packed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 82g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp matcha powder

Methods

Matcha white chocolate namelaka (the night before)

  1. Bloom the gelatine by adding the gelatine to 63g of cold water in a bowl and leaving it aside.
  2. Break the white chocolate into small pieces and melt in a microwave in 10s bursts, stirring well between each burst. When the white chocolate starts to melt, decrease the length of each burst (white chocolate seizes abruptly so err on the side of caution). Alternatively you could melt the white chocolate over a double boiler but I always found microwaving chocolate to be way easier.
  3. Add the corn syrup to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Stir in the matcha powder (it is fine if the matcha powder clumps at this point as we’ll be blending the whole mixture later).
  4. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Add in the bloomed gelatine and swirl the pan until the gelatine is fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the milk mixture over the melted chocolate in small additions, stirring to combine well after each addition. Combining the milk with the chocolate slowly and well is essential in making sure the texture is right.
  6. Heat up the whipping cream in a microwave until it is room temperature and add it into the mixture in two additions, stirring to fully incorporate after each addition.
  7. Using a stick blender, process the mixture until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate overnight to let set.

Craquelin

  1. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients together until you get moist crumbs.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto your working surface and press into a ball.
  3. Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper until it is about 1/8-1/16 inch thick.
  4. Freeze the dough for about 30 mins or until it is easier to work with.
  5. Cut into 2 inch diameter rounds (using whatever you have in the house I used some measuring cups).
  6. Freeze the rounds until needed.

Choux pastry

  1. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and then add all the flour at once.
  3. Beat the mixture very well with a wooden spoon until it leaves a film at the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking and stirring nonstop for another 3 minutes to dry but not colour it. At this point the ball should start picking up the dough from the bottom of the pan so there is less of the film.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat and continue to stir the mixture until it has cooled down enough that you can touch the saucepan with your hands/it’s not hot enough to scramble eggs.
  5. Beat the eggs and egg whites together in a bowl and add the egg mixture to the dough in 3 additions, beating the dough well between each addition. The mixture might look wrong at first but just keep beating until a smooth, satiny dough forms. You know the dough has hit the right hydration when you drop the dough from the spoon and it forms a triangle shape.
  6. Scoop the choux dough into a piping bag and pipe puffs just under 2 inches in diameter onto some baking paper, aiming for a tall puff. Leave 2 inches between each puff.
  7. When ready to bake, place a frozen disc of craquelin dough on top of each choux puff.
  8. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-35 mins, rotating the baking sheets after 20-25 mins if one side starts to brown faster than the other. The choux is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow, and it looks golden brown.
  9. Transfer the choux to cooling racks, and place back in the switched off oven with the oven door ajar to dry the choux out further. Cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Take the namelaka out of the fridge and stir well to homogenise. If it seems chunky, place in a food processor and pulse briefly to soften up (I didn’t need to do this).
  2. Place the namelaka into a piping bag.
  3. Take a choux and make a small hole in the bottom of the choux with a chopstick.
  4. Place the tip of the piping bag into the hole and fill the choux well with namelaka, making sure to rotate the choux so you fill all sides of the choux.
  5. (Optional) Cut out a small piece of baking paper and place at the bottom of the choux, covering the hole you used to pipe the namelaka, so the cream doesn’t come back out/smear all over the place.

Notes

  • It is best to chill the namelaka in a shallow container as apparently the middle doesn’t set properly if the mixture is too thick.
  • This is best served immediately for optimal crispness of the choux, but I refrigerated the choux and they still tasted good the next day.
  • If you’re planning on using milk chocolate (like the original recipe) or dark chocolate for the namelaka, you’re going to want to add less chocolate with higher cocoa solid content. So add less if you using dark chocolate, add more if using white chocolate. This was a table in the comments section for another namelaka recipe, but I can’t for the life of me figure out the number pattern to adjust it to the recipe I’m using, so use it as a general guide.

70% 250g
65% 265g
55% 285g
40% 350g
33% 390g

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Custard Filling

It’s time for some oozy-gooey-flowy matcha.

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Ok so some people seem to get disgusted by the idea of a green sticky filling. Reminds them of snot or something. Well it’s time to open your mind and broaden your horizons because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore. And some of that world consists of green custard, alright?

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The green custard is restrained by charcoal bread, which colour is more for dramatic effect rather than any health benefits, really. Charcoal powder is used quite commonly in Asian baking. I’ve used it before in my Charcoal Bread with Salted Egg Yolk Filling, but this time I’m going to be using a different recipe which I think yields a softer bun.

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Get some dramatic sunrise lighting on those buns.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Filling

If your ability to wrap a filling is better than mine, you’ll probably end up with more custard in your buns. And for those that haven’t eaten matcha before it’s like ground-up green tea, also commonly used in Asian cooking. It kinda has a mildly bitter, earthy taste, but I think it complements sweet things really well.

I used my standard Asian-style bread recipe originally used here, and just adjusted for the charcoal powder. I got the recipe for the filling from here.

Ingredients (makes about 12 buns)

Green Tea Custard

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g flour
  • 10g matcha powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 300g bread flour (2 1/2 cup minus about a tbsp)
  • 14g charcoal powder
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)

Method

Matcha Custard

  1. In a pot, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and green tea powder.
  2. Add in the milk and set over medium-high heat. Heat until the custard thickens, stirring continuously.
  3. When the custard is thick enough that when you dribble a bit back in the dribble briefly retains its shape, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide up the custard into tbsp-sized portions and place on a lined baking sheet (making sure you have at least 12 portions, or however many buns you want to make). Freeze until solid.

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, charcoal powder, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and roll flat.
  5. Place a tbsp of the frozen matcha custard in the middle of the dough disc, and wrap the dough around the custard well, making sure to seal tightly.
  6. Let the buns rise until doubled in size, about 1.5h.
  7. After doubled in size, brush the tops of the buns with some oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  8. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins.

Notes

  • The frozen custard dough will retard the second rise of the dough, take that into consideration when planning the bake.
  • It can be difficult to judge when the bread is done since it is so dark, I just judged it by smell.
  • The times given for proofing the dough are a rough guide, since it is very dependent on temperature. Follow the visual cues (ie doubled in size) rather than the exact timing.
  • You have to use ground up matcha powder don’t use green tea leaves.
  • Make sure to seal the buns well!! The custard is super gooey and will seep out of any holes you’ve missed.
  • Use vanilla essence/extract whichever you prefer.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

One of my favourite flavours of ice cream!

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I’m just obsessed with matcha-flavoured desserts. The slight bitterness of it together with its fresh flavour works really well in sweet stuff.

I’ve always liked my matcha ice cream to be a little on the bitter side. But some people don’t really like that, so I think the amount of sugar used in this recipe is a happy compromise.

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I’ve basically been exclusively using recipes from icecreamscience because the ice cream that I get is just unbelievably smooth and creamy.

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This is essentially the same recipe as my previous lemon curd ice cream, but with slightly less sugar and replacing the lemon curd with matcha powder.

Ingredients

  • 417g double cream (see notes)
  • 319g semi-skimmed milk
  • 46g skimmed milk powder
  • 120g sugar
  • 78g egg yolks (about 4 eggs)
  • 20g matcha powder

Method

  1. Mix yolks, sugar, skimmed milk powder, and matcha powder vigorously together in a large saucepan. This is to stop the yolks from curdling.
  2. Mix in the cream and milk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. You’re aiming to hold the mixture at about 71°C for about 20 mins to reduce the mixture by 15% by weight. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just try to hold the mixture at the point when it’s steaming slightly (not too much and DEFINITELY not at a boil) and reduce it till it coats the back of your spoon. If you overheat your mixture you will get an eggy hydrogen sulfide taste.
  4. Cool the mixture down as fast as you can, preferably by cooling it in a container in an ice bath. Once it’s cool put it in the fridge to age overnight. This is to reduce the bacteria growing so the ice cream keeps for longer.
  5. The next day, put the ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine.
  6. When the ice cream reaches the texture desired, stop churning and immediately store your ice cream in the freezer set at the lowest temperature (orrr you could just eat it straight away).
  7. To eat, allow to thaw for 10 mins first.

Notes

  • If you know the fat percentage of the cream you’re using, you can use other cream. Go to icecreamscience’s original blog post to calculate the adjusted recipe amounts (he has an excel sheet).
  • Holding the ice cream at 71°C makes the proteins in the milk undergo reversible unfolding which contributes to the creamy texture of the ice cream.
  • If your freezer can’t go as low as -18°C (like mine), I recommend eating the ice cream within a day or two. It can get icy if you can’t store it at low enough temperatures.

Matcha Green Tea Milk Bread with Azuki Red Bean Filling

You can’t go wrong with matcha and red bean.

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I tried using the water roux method for this bread (AKA tang zhong or 汤种/湯種). This is a technique mostly used in Asian breads, where the the flour and water is cooked first before adding to the dough.

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This results in a soft, fluffy bun that you usually find in Asian bakeries (esp Hong Kong style ones). They’re a little sweeter and richer than Western style breads. Apparently they also stay softer and moister for longer.

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Not that I would know since mine was finished within a day.

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The dough basically resembles an enriched dough, but more elastic and very soft.

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Matcha green tea and sweetened red beans (AKA azuki beans) is also a tried and tested combination in Japanese/Asian desserts. The slightly bitter flavour of the matcha complements the sweetness of the red beans really well.

If this is your first time seeing this kind of filling (it’s also known as anko) it really does not taste like the kidney beans or whatever beans you put in your chilli (well it’s still bean-y but it’s subtle and not in a savoury way). It’s sort of cinnamon-y but it doesn’t have cinnamon in it and the flavour’s just really unique (and very East Asian I’m getting massive nostalgia). Give it a try it’s really good.

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I adapted the recipe from here. I used some store-bought red bean paste but if you want to try making your own there’s a recipe here.

Honestly, you get a soft bread but it didn’t taste that different from my usual enriched bread. Maybe I added too much flour (my weighing scale failed halfway and I had to guess the amount of flour to add), or I didn’t rise it enough, or I just used the wrong recipe. But it just didn’t reach the level of fluffiness I usually expect from Asian-style breads. I’d probably try a different recipe source next time.

Ingredients (makes 9)

Water roux/tangzhong

  • 28g plain flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Bread

  • 1/2 cup milk, slightly warmed (but definitely not hot to the touch)
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (6.3g, or 1 packet)
  • 20g matcha powder
  • 350g all-purpose flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 42g butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 400g anko/sweetened red bean paste
  • White sesame seeds (for decorating)

Method

Water roux

  1. Mix the flour (28g) in water well until there are no lumps.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  3. The mixture will get thicker. Once lines appear in the roux for every stir, it is ready.
  4. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm is sticking to the surface of the roux.
  5. Let cool to room temperature before using.

Bread

  1. Mix the milk, egg, yeast, and matcha powder together.
  2. Add 120g of the water roux and mix.
  3. Mix in the flour, sugar, and salt.
  4. When the ingredients come together, knead in the butter until smooth and elastic.
  5. Let proof till doubled in size (about 40 mins). Punch down, shape into 9 balls, and let rest for about 15 mins.
  6. Flour a work surface and your rolling pin well. Roll each ball out into a circle and add some red bean paste in the middle, and then close the dough around the filling. Roll the bun to shape it. You can pull on the surface of the bread and tuck the excess at the bottom to create a smooth top.
  7. Leave for a second proof (about 30 mins).
  8. Egg wash the bread, and sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top. Bake at 180°C for 30-35 mins until browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Notes

  • The dough is a little wet and when you’re first kneading but just keep working at it and it’ll come together better.
  • The dough also, for some reason, becomes easier to work with after the first proof.
  • It’s better to let it proof to the description (ie doubled in size) rather than following the timings. The timings are just a guide and is very variable on other factors like temperature.
  • The egg wash just gives the bread a better colour and shine.
  • Use a good matcha powder! The good ones are usually in an opaque container and quite bright green in colour (and not as a result of additives). This was the one I used. It’s called Ujinotsuyu Matcha Hagoromo.