I have officially dubbed this month (and by extension, next month) as my Steampunk month. Okay, this may have to do with the fact that a certain steampunk anthology is getting published in June, of which I am blessed to be a contributor. And maybe it’s because I’m recently reading a book on steampunk fairy tales (a review for that next week, when I eventually get done…). Or, you know, I just like steampunk and I wanted to make cupcakes that sorta kinda fall in this category of Victorian-inspired aesthetic.
Cue the green tea and the cakes. Hell, why not combine these two extremely fabulous elements into a singular form of decadence? Why not eat your tea and drink your cake? It’s a marriage of tastes waiting to happen!
Okay. I need to stop salivating now.
I tend to naturally connect steampunk with the aesthetics of the British Victorian era. It’s not a hard connection to make, especially because this is where the steam magic supposedly originated. And when I think of the aesthetics, I imagine a set of rather bored ladies and gentlemen conducting their social norms through visitations and conversations over tea and sandwiches and biscuits and cake.
Then of course I had to bring the Eastern world into this (because let’s not forget that China and Japan and the rest of the Eastern nations also underwent their own age of industrialization), and when I was browsing recipes of tea-related cupcakes, I realized there was really no other option but to use green tea as my base (well, that and my sister is not a fan of Earl Grey, and Chai tea required too many rather pricy spices I did not have handy). But come on. Green tea is healthy and actually good for you! Nevermind that when it becomes a cupcake with frosting, the health factors probably get negated by the cupcakey-ness of it all. But screw it.
There was one thing I did splurge on as far as ingredients, and that was the matcha (green tea powder). Apparently, most of the recipes I’d seen use this as opposed to powderizing regular green tea leaves. Some did recommend the tea leaves method, but from what I saw in various reviews, it did not bring about as good a flavor (or as good a color) as the matcha did. So I bought a teeny tiny ounce of matcha from one of the local Asian stores (thank the heavens for those!), which cost me quite a bit. Matcha is pretty expensive over here, but eh, I figure if I was going to try to make green tea cupcakes from scratch, I could stand to invest in a quality powder (note: somebody let me know where I can find a Japanese import of this kind of matcha brand for cheap, ’cause 10 bucks an ounce is a little overkill, just saying). In any case, the green color produced by matcha is gorgeous, so I’m actually not regretting the purchase.
I found a green tea cake recipe that I iterated into a cupcake. Obviously if you’re going to bake the cake as a cupcake, the time has to be lessened from 30-40 minutes for cake to 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. In this case, I’d say go for closer to 20 minutes when you’re doing cupcakes, because you want your cupcake to cook properly. I went and undercooked it at 13 minutes, and realized I had to put the cupcakes back in the oven for a few more minutes, else the inside would still be pretty soggy.
As for the frosting, I used the same honey-cinnamon frosting as the one for this banana cupcake, though I did have to double the recipe, else I wouldn’t have enough frosting for each cupcake. The green tea cake recipe had a different frosting that uses matcha again, but I didn’t really want to do that because I had planned to tint the whitish frosting in gold and silver. Still, I really liked the little speckles and the beige coloration on the honey-cinnamon frosting (owed to the honey and cinnamon), so I didn’t have to do much color-work. Actually, I pretty much got too lazy to color-work most of the cupcakes.
I did, however, put my short-lived cake decorating classes to good use! Not that I learned how to pipe roses in decorating class (for that I thank the presence of Youtube tutorials). Still, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even realized I can do this with a certain type of frosting tip if it weren’t for my decorating classes. Why the rose design? Well, why on earth not?
The gold and silver didn’t show as prominently as I’d hoped, but it did give the frosting a metallic sheen. Maybe next time I’ll just go ahead and play with my food coloring to come up with a more bronze-ish steampunk look. Or I could mold chocolate into gears and airships. Hah, that’s going to take a bit more skill and time, I suppose.
Verdict: The matcha seriously gave the cupcake itself a distinct green tea flavor. Coupled with the honey-cinnamon frosting, it was absolutely divine. My sister likes her cupcake warmed up a bit in the microwave, but I tend to like my cupcakes colder. Either way, the cupcake remained soft, the frosting delicious, and we both enjoyed it in our own merry way.
Next time, I’ll definitely have some actual tea to go with my green tea cupcake!
A Note: Anyone else get reminded of absinthe when looking at the green tea color?