Matcha cheesecake this week on D is for Dinner

It's almost always tea time at Uji Café — even when no one's ordering a beverage.

The recently-opened Rideau Street café specializes in baking with matcha powder, a preparation of finely ground green tea leaves that's common in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

This week on D is for Dinner, Uji Café's Alice Seah shared the restaurant's recipe for matcha cheesecake.

While the cafe uses authentic matcha powder imported straight from the city of Uji, Japan in its cheesecakes, Seah says Ottawa bakers can use any locally available matcha and the cake will turn out just fine.

Japanese matcha cheesecake

Ingredients:

- ½ cup milk

- 25 g butter

- 1 tbsp. corn starch

- 2 tbsp. sugar (for the batter)

- 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar (for the meringue)

- 2 tbsp. matcha powder

- 3 tbsp. flour

- 3 cold egg yolks (medium or large eggs)

- cold egg whites from 3 medium eggs (or 2 large eggs)

- 80 g cream cheese

Instructions:

- Cut two pieces of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of a 20-cm cake pan and insert.

- Preheat the oven to 320 F (160 C).

- Mix and sieve the flour and matcha powder onto another piece of parchment paper and set aside.

- Mix the corn starch and the two tablespoons of sugar together in a mixing bowl.

- In a second bowl, combine the milk and butter and heat using the double-boiler method.

- Beat the cold egg yolks and pour them into the corn starch-and-sugar mix.

- Mix the egg yolks, the corn starch and the sugar until there are no clumps remaining.

- Add the milk and butter and return to the double boiler, heating until the mix is thick but slightly runny.

- Slowly add the flour and the matcha powder and mix.

- Warm the cream cheese until softened using the double boiler, and pour in the batter, mixing until it's free of clumps.

- Place a baking sheet in the oven and pour in at least 2½ centimetres of hot water.

- As the water bath sits, make the meringue by adding the remaining sugar into the cold egg whites, one to two tablespoons at a time.

- Beat the mixture until the foam forms medium-to-strong peaks and all the sugar has dissolved.

- Add three scoops of meringue into the batter mix and fold in gently with a rubber spatula.

- Then, slowly mix in the rest of the meringue and continue folding until you can no longer see the white meringue in the green batter.

- Pour the meringue-and-batter mix into the cake pan all at once, tapping the pan to release any air pockets.

- Place the cake pan into the water bath and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

- Then, reduce the oven temperature to 300 F and bake for another 10 minutes.

- Turn off the oven and leave the door half open for about 10 minutes. 

- Remove the pan, leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then slowly flip the pan upside down and remove the cheesecake and parchment papers.

- Serve warm, or refrigerate for up to three or four days. The cake can be stored at room temperature for one to two hours.