Why are layer cakes the American staple of celebratory occasions?  This is really more of a rhetorical thought than an actual question (as I could easily Google it and find a somewhat logical response).  It’s just interesting to me how certain things become mainstays in our culture, like blowing out candles on your birthday cake, or insulting someone by the singular extension of a certain finger.


Sorry if that was a strange juxtaposition.  It’s just something I was thinking about as I was frosting my cake, and totally adhering to that particular cultural standard.

This cake, I dedicated entirely to myself.  I’m normally very conscientious of other people’s preferences and intentionally avoid certain ingredients, or only use them in small batch desserts I make for myself.  But, it was my birthday this past weekend, and I decided I was going to make myself a green tea cake, and not worry about what other flavors certain people I live with might have preferred.


I evened it out with a honey buttercream frosting, though the middle layer (which you can’t see because it spread too easily) was also a green tea flavored pastry cream.  After a group of friends awkwardly serenaded me with another cultural norm that occurs on the anniversary of one’s birth, causing me to scrunch up my face and dig my right foot against the ground in an unadulterated display of bashfulness, I quickly sliced up the cake.  (I decided to forgo the whole candle thing.)


Green tea might not be everyone’s favorite (if they even know you can flavor a cake thusly, as my Dad asked why the top was green when I sent him a picture….no, it’s not mold) but this cake seemed to do the trick.  And now I get all the leftovers to myself, which I guess is a wonderful present in itself.


One Year Ago: Vanilla Nectarine Crisps

Green Tea Layer Cake with Honey Buttercream

Yield: Makes one 6\" layer cake, about 8 servings


  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp green tea powder (matcha)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp green tea powder (matcha)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt


  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 6" round cake pans and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, and green tea powder.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes before inverting.
  5. Then make the pastry cream. (Or you can make it the day before.) In a small saucepan, bring the milk and honey to a simmer over moderate heat.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, salt and egg yolks until smooth.
  7. Once the milk is about to simmer and bubbles appear around the edges, pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and add the green tea powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once it has thickened and starts pulling away from the sides, remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  8. Next, make the frosting. In a large bowl, cream the butter and honey until smooth. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, stirring until fully combined after each addition. Finally, stir in the salt.
  9. Level the cake layers if desired, and place first layer on a plate or platter. Spread a layer of chilled pastry cream over the first layer, leaving a ½” margin at the edges. Place second layer on top, and secure with toothpicks if the top layer slides. Frost cake as desired, and serve!

Cake adapted from Building Buttercream

Frosting adapted from Pastry Affair

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