Green Tea and Red Bean (Matcha and Azuki) Cake Roll Recipe

Gâteau roulé matcha et azuki

The thing that happens when you buy a big pouch of anko (Japanese sweetened red bean paste) to make strawberry daifuku is that you’re likely to run out of rice flour long before you use up all the azuki paste.

I assume it keeps for weeks if well wrapped, but I didn’t want to let it sit in the fridge for too long (shelf space is in short supply), so I tried to think up ways to use it. A quick brainstorm led me to the gâteaux roulés (cake rolls, a.k.a. jelly rolls or Swiss rolls) that my mother makes and sometimes garnishes with crème de marron, sweetened chestnut paste, which I’ve always felt is a close cousin to anko, texture- and flavor-wise. And since the pairing of green tea and red bean is always successful, perhaps I could flavor the cake with a little matcha*?

Alhough I have stood by my mother (and held my breath) as she deftly rolled up layers of sponge cake, this was my first time actually making a cake roll of my own.

I opted to make the cake component (la génoise) butterless, using almond butter instead, and I cut the red bean paste with about a third of its weight in yogurt, to make the filling easier to spread and less intensely sweet.

Alhough I have stood by my mother (and held my breath) as she deftly rolled up layers of sponge cake, this was my first time actually making a cake roll of my own, and I was rather pleased with how it turned out: I did bake my génoise a tad too long, which resulted in crisp edges that I should probably have trimmed, but the heart of the cake was moist and tender, and the balance of flavors was just right. Not to mention, I was tickled to notice that each cut slice drew the hiragana character (no), a feature few cakes can boast.

Because this was just a trial run for private consumption, I didn’t decorate the cake, but I think a light-handed dusting of confectioner’s sugar and/or matcha would accent the color of the cake nicely — I picture oblique lines sifted through a simple homemade stencil. Next time I may also try brushing the cake layer with a light green tea syrup (possibly made with genmaicha for the toasted note ?) before spreading the filling.

What about you, how do you like your cake rolls?

* A quick online search revealed — as I suspected, really — that others had had the same idea, not the least of whom is Sadaharu Aoki, a Japanese pastry chef I was lucky enough to meet two years ago.

Green Tea and Red Bean (Matcha and Azuki) Cake Roll Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 36 minutes

Serves 6.

Green Tea and Red Bean (Matcha and Azuki) Cake Roll Recipe

Ingredients

    For the cake (génoise):
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 40 grams (2 rounded tablespoons) almond butter (substitute 30 grams / 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled)
  • 80 grams (6 tablespoons) sugar
  • 75 grams (2 2/3 ounces or 2/3 cup) flour
  • 25 grams (3 tablespoons) corn starch
  • 6 grams (1 tablespoon) matcha (finely powdered green tea)
  • a good pinch of salt
  • For the filling:
  • 280 grams (10 ounces) anko (sweetened azuki bean paste; preferably tsubuan, which is a little chunky); if unavailable, substitute sweetened chestnut purée (crème de marron)
  • 80 grams (1/3 cup) plain Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc or crème fraîche
  • For the topping: (optional)
  • confectioner's sugar
  • matcha (green tea powder)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the cake. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a 35-by-25-cm (14-by-10-inch) jelly roll pan with parchment paper; I used rimmed silicone mat, which of course doesn't need lining. (Alternatively, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and draw a 35-by-25-cm [14-by-10-inch] rectangle on it lightly in pencil; you'll then spread the cake batter onto the paper into a rectangular shape, using the drawn-on shape as a guide.)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks with the almond butter and sugar. Beat well with a wooden spoon. In another bowl, sift together the flour, corn starch, and matcha. Stir the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until just blended, without overmixing.
  3. Place the egg whites and the pinch of salt in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl, and whisk until stiff. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest with a spatula, lifting the mixture to keep as much air as possible in the egg whites.
  4. Pour the batter onto the prepared pan or sheet, making sure it reaches the corners, and smooth out the surface gently with the spatula. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until just set; it should not color.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the filling: combine the anko and yogurt in a bowl, and stir well. Set aside.
  6. Once the cake is baked, you have to work quickly while the cake is still warm, otherwise it will be too stiff to roll. Slide the parchment paper and cake on a cold baking sheet or a tray. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the cake if necessary to get a neat rectangle, or if the edges have gotten a bit crisp in the oven.
  7. Cover with a clean dishtowel (or a fresh sheet of parchment paper, which you can reuse several times) and flip cautiously onto your work surface, so that one of the short edges is close to you. Remove the cold baking sheet or tray and carefully peel off the sheet of parchment paper on which the cake baked (or, in my case, the silicone mat). The cake will now be upside-down, the spongiest side facing the ceiling.
  8. Matcha and Azuki Cake Roll
  9. Spread the filling onto the cake, leaving a margin all around. Roll the cake tightly onto itself, starting from the edge closest to you. It will feel a little awkward at first -- you can use the dishtowel to help your grip -- but will get easier after the first few inches. Wrap the rolled cake tightly in the dishtowel and place it seam side down in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.
  10. Just before serving, slice off the ends of the roll -- at an angle if you like -- for a neater look, place the cake on a serving dish, and dust with confectioner's sugar and/or a little matcha powder. Serve on its own, or with a dollop of yogurt. The leftovers will keep for a few days, well wrapped in the fridge.
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  • http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com Kalyn

    Clotilde, this is such an interesting dessert, with two ingredients that I’m very curious about. Sounds like it would be delicious.

  • http://www.laptopmemo.com Stef

    Green Tea and Red Beans? That’s interesting!

  • http://shewhoeats.blogspot.com/ chika

    Hello Clotilde,

    You’ve got one beautiful の roll! :)

    And this is such a quintessentially Japanese pairing – matcha and adzuki! Matcha & azuki cake rolls are quite popular over here, though ones we have often come with a mixture of anko and heavy cream (lightly whipped, a lot of it) for the filling.

    If you also have some fresh strawberries left after ichigo-daifuku, you can roll them up, too – matcha and strawberries go well together, too.

  • http://www.moveablefeastscookbook.blogspot.com Barbara

    I’ve done a pumpkin/ginger cake roll for Thanksgiving but your recipe is really unusual and a clever way to use up your anko.

  • http://www.wearenotmartha.com Sues

    Yum! I’ve been wanting to try baking more with green tea and this looks fabulous!

  • http://www.worldfoodieguide.com Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    How strange but wonderful to see this post! My stepmother-in-law is Japanese and a superb cook. When she came over for lunch the other week, this is exactly what she made for dessert, beautifully wrapped in paper and then in a slim box. It was light and fluffy and absolutely delicious, as yours looks!

  • http://smallkitchenbigideas.wordpress.com Sara

    Beautiful cake!

  • http://theendivechronicles.com/ Erin

    Gosh, that looks gorgeous. I love baked goods with red bean paste and matcha, but have never had them together. I bet it’s wonderful.

  • http://citygirllifestyle.blogspot.com City Girl

    What a great melding of different flavors and parts of the world. Looks absolutely scrumptious :)

  • Aiyana

    This sounds lovely and delicious– but not easy! I love to read your recipes, but some strike me as significantly more labor-intensive than others.

    Do you think you could add a note on future entries rating the difficulty of the recipe? And perhaps the time it takes to make? I’d find that very helpful in deciding which ones to attempt. :)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Aiyana – Actually, this recipe isn’t very difficult at all: you just make the cake layer, stir two ingredients for the filling, and roll the whole thing up. If it seems long, it’s perhaps because I’ve tried to give detailed instructions for bakers who have never made a cake roll before.

  • Joan

    The moment I saw the photo I thought of a honey roll ~ in Sydney cakeshops since my childhood and beloved of me. The cake would be lovely and spicey. As for the filling ~ sort of mock creamy (alas!).

    I just might go and search for a recipe and give it a go. Clotilde, those photos of yours are inspiration plus to me…:-)

  • http://www.fromsingletomarried.com Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    I like how you used almond butter instead of butter. And I’m impressed with how it turned out, especially since it was your first time making it on your own. Can’t wait to make it myself!

  • Mrs Redboots

    I was always taught you made a Swiss roll with fat-free sponge cake, using the whisked method, otherwise it didn’t roll up well. How interesting to see that yours did!

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com Eralda

    This sounds and looks delicious. I have yet to try a rolled cake, and I am soooo impressed by your baking skills. Beautiful!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Mrs Redboots – Funny you should mention that, my mother just emailed me to say that the real gâteau roulé batter is made without fat (apart from the fat that’s in the yolks, that is). :)

  • http://cookingwithdia.com Cooking With Dia

    I visit your blog now and then and think it is great! Love this picture. The colors are my favorite. Great recipe too!

  • http://getwellbetter.com health

    yummy it looks. not only tasty but nutritious. creatively used ingredients. almond butter.. wow..

  • http://www.appleandspice.blogspot.com katie

    Wow this looks and sounds wonderful. I love both those flavours. Wish I could find matcha where I live

  • http://trishiekoh.blogspot.com/ Trishie Koh

    Green tea and red bean is such a great combi…yummy!

  • Laura

    thanks for the inspiration! i changed the recipe a bit because i didn’t have matcha or azuki paste and shopping is not allowed when you’re supposed to study, but baking makes such a nice break… ;-)
    well, instead of almond butter i used mix-of-4-nuts-butter and instead of matcha i used dried lemon-thmye and filled the roll with homemade apricot-jam. tastes great! :-)

  • http://pigsinblankies.blogspot.com/ Anne

    Two of my absolute favorite combinations! One of my favorite bakeries has this fresh strawberry roll that I cannot ever stop devouring, but your roll may give that one a run for its money! Yours looks divine.

  • http://foodgourmand.blogspot.com Karine

    I have that red bean paste in my fridge and I did not know what to do with it… I think now I am starting to get some ideas!

    Thanks!

    :)

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.com barbara

    My favourite local cafe has the most amazing matcha roll with red bean paste made by the chef’s wife.

    scroll down this article for picture of cake.

  • http://www.cleacuisine.fr Clea

    Voilà une part de gâteau que j’aurais volontiers engloutie ! Tu peux également essayer les pancakes fourrés à l’anko, un petit délice…

  • http://photoblog.com/marias23 maria~

    Gosh! This looks to die for! I absolutely have to try this soon. Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://madoka-cuisine.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2009-06-27 Maka

    macha and anko always goes very well. Also, with icecream is good for summer dessert. the picture is macha jerry and anko with mocca/caramel ice cream. you definitely love it.

  • dee

    Hi there, am very intrigued by this beautiful roll. Is this recipe suitable to make into a regular cake (8 or 9′ round pan)? Looking forward to your advice! =) Thank you so much!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Dee – I’m pretty sure you could bake the cake in a round cake pan, then slice it in two horizontally when cold, and spread it with the filling in the middle as a sort of sandwiched cake. Let us know if you try something like that!

  • Dee

    Thank you for your wonderful and prompt reply! I can’t wait to try baking this recipe into a regular cake pan. Should I expect the cake to rise/change color? Will 20mins be enough time for it to cook? :) Thank you!!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Dee – The cake won’t rise much, and you shouldn’t let it color. As for the baking time, I can’t suggest one as I’ve never baked the cake this way, but I would start testing doneness after 14 minutes or so.

  • Tammy

    Sounds delicious! Reminiscent of two of my favorite Asian ice creams: green tea and red bean. Also, beautiful for a Christmas dessert.

  • dru

    I tried…. but it seems my cake is a bit stiff. why?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Dru – If your cake is a bit stiff, it may be because it’s overbaked. Try with a slightly lower oven setting, or a shorter baking time.

  • yuri

    can i just fill it with plain azuki and not mix the yogurt in?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Yuri – You could, but I don’t recommend it: the yogurt serves to make the filling less sweet, and also less stiff, so it is easier to spread.

  • krina

    Dearest Clotilde,
    Are you sure there is no baking powder or baking soda involve ? Or that cornstarch is suppose to be in the recipe ? I just did this twice because I didn’t read the instructions correctly, and just threw it in the eggs as a whole instead of separating them – it came out really stiff. So I did exactly as instructed for the second cake, but it’s still very stiff and didn’t rise at all ]:
    it’s like a super thick crepe skin… it tastes horrible and I just wasted 8 eggs… what do you think I’m not doing correctly ?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The recipe is correct as written. There is no baking soda or powder involved: the beaten egg whites play the role of leavener. It is important to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and to incorporate them as gently as possible in the rest of the batter so as not to deflate them. (See folding technique demonstrated here, though I recommend against banging the whisk on the side of the bowl like she does in the beginning, as that will deflate the eggwhites.)

  • krina

    Ahh, that’s what I thought, as it is the same concept with chocolate souffles… I guess I’m just not too fond of constarch but i guess for rolls like these, you need it for density. Wow her eggwhites are stiff !! I was making it on a hot hot summer day and I don’t believe in air conditioning at home so all my eggwhite has gone watery by the seconds… perhaps, I shall try again with stiffer eggwhites and I DID kind of overmixed the greentea flour mixture+eggyolk mixture… I assume lack of attention to details is my problem !! :X thanks for replying & finding me that video ^.^
    you are the best.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You’re welcome — practice makes perfect ! :) And just to be clear, the cornstarch actually lightens the texture of the cake: if you were to use flour only, it would be denser.

  • Carisa Kwong

    I love to try this recipe. But after adding the flour, the egg batter becomes so thick that it’s like a flour dough. I used almond butter and melted and cooled it before mixing in the flour. I did not beat the egg white at all since I know I will not be able to mix the egg white with the flour dough. What may be wrong here? It looks like I need more liquid…

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      It is possible that this is a measurement problem: did you measure the flour by weight (the more accurate method) or volume? If it’s the latter, try fluffing the flour before measuring, and being careful not packing the flour into the measuring cup. Also, the flour should be all-purpose flour, and the tablespoons of corn starch should be level.

  • http://cookiesncakes.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Hi there! I tried the recipe for the Green Tea roll today.

    I had the same problem as Carisa. The egg+flour mixture was thick and sticky, it was hard to quickly fold the whites in. I had to mix in some egg whites (deflating them in the process) so that the mixture is more manageable. However the excessive mixing might have created a lot more gluten in the mixture – the resulting cake roll was slightly chewy…

    Would you be able to advise on the texture of your resultant egg yolk + flour mixture? How wet / sticky should it be?

    Thanks!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for writing, Cheryl. The mixture should be thick, but not so thick that it feels impossible to fold in the whites. If yours is thicker, it is likely a measurement problem, and I will give you the same recommendations I gave Carisa above.

  • Vivian

    A new fan of your site. And I love how you take the time and effort to reply to each and every question your reader has!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks Vivian, much appreciated!

  • http://abananaplease.blogspot.com tian

    Hi Clotilde,

    Would love to use your recipe for a black sesame cake roll.

    I doubt 1 tbsp of black sesame powder would be enough for the flavour to come through. What is your advice? Thanks

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’ve never tried a black sesame variation, but if I were you, I would use black sesame butter (kuro nerigoma) and substitute it for the almond butter here. Let us know it turns out!

      • tian

        Hi Clotilde,

        I added 3 tbps of toasted black sesame powder to your recipe, plus a sprinkling in the whipped cream red bean filling.

        The flavour was there and not overpowering. I think it would be better if sesame oil replaced some of the butter.

        I noticed the texture of your roll is not as tender as Asian swiss rolls but a good recipe nonetheless. Thanks!

  • atesca

    I have already made the tsubuan tonight, the plain yoghurt is ready in the fridge (also homemade). Will assemble them all tomorrow :D

  • Emi Reiner

    This cake roll looks amazing by the way. I was just looking for ways to use matcha tea powder and anko together. I was also thinking matcha flavored daifuku – have you heard of this?

  • Kahsai

    Hi!!!
    This is a cool cake idea
    I tried making this cake roll yesterday. It turned out fine, but when I was ready to roll it up, the cake portion fell apart!!!! Do you have any suggestions?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Perhaps the cake was overbaked, or had cooled too much?

  • Jewel

    I found my egg yolk batter thick and sticky, like a couple of other bakers commented. I added two more eggs (separated) since I have another similar recipe and it calls for 6 instead of 4 eggs, and the cake turned out to be just perfect! I didn’t measure the dry ingredient by weight though.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back, Jewel. It sounds like perhaps there was too much flour in your batter, which can happen if you’re measuring by volume. Glad you were able to turn it around!

  • carey

    hi I’m a beginner at cakes and I was just wondering what type of flour are you talking about ? plain ? self-raising ? wholemeal ? sorry, I’m a bit clueless to all this. Thank you in advance though !!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You can use plain or pastry flour here. Happy baking!

  • Winnie

    Hi there, I am a 13-year old girl who is interested in your recipe because it seems to be the perfect recipe for my father’s upcoming birthday. I came across your awesome recipe and had a few questions. Would you mind answering them please?

    1)Can I use cake flour? I want it to be soft and fluffy..if that’s what cake flour does but I also don’t want it to break when I roll it.

    2)Am I old enough to do this?

    3)Can I decorate this like so: I wanted to put a Sanrio character :3 but I am afraid if I take too long..the rest of the batter will “lose texture.”

    4) Can I make my own anko paste?

    Thank you very much!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      First of all, congrats on wanting to bake something special for your father — so thoughtful!
      1- Yes, you can use cake flour here.
      2- I can’t tell you if you’re old enough to do this as it’s not a matter of age, but rather an ability to follow the instructions and being good with your hands — I say give it a try!
      3- If I were you I would hold off the decorations for now, I think it may be enough work to make the cake without them. Best not to be overambitious!
      4- You can make your own anko paste — there are instructions online — but again, I would use a ready-made one so the whole process is less labor-intensive.
      Happy baking!

  • Adzuki Bean

    Holy hell. easy and fun to make, but way too eggy tasting for me. Pleased at my first aatempt at a swiss roll though, thanks for the instructions.

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