The ancient Japanese cupcake ceremony.
(Author’s note: this is my last cupcake post for a while; I’m being sent to India for a work assignment next week, and baking is not in the equation. Watch this space, however; there may very well appear some one-off features on the challenges and oddities of an expatriate trying to eat in the Asian subcontinent.)
Last week I received some sample packets of matcha from Matcha Source. Matcha is traditional Japanese green tea powder, and I’ve wanted to use it in cupcakes for awhile now, but its relatively pricey price in America has so far discouraged me. It’s not that I’m a tea snob; on the contrary, I enjoy a nice cuppa. Black teas provide a gentler morning “lift” as opposed to coffee’s caffeine bitch-slap, regular bagged green teas are excellent for detoxing, (Yamamotoyama’s genmai-cha is a personal favorite) and Mighty Leaf makes a nice camomille blend that doesn’t taste too much like soap.
Fun fact: herbal teas aren’t technically teas at all since most of them contain botanicals and aromatics and no real tea leaves.
Matcha, however, is something altogether different. Steamed and dried, green tea leaves are then stone ground over and over again until a fine, silky powder is produced. Since matcha is mixed directly with water and not steeped, you consume the tea leaf itself, which makes for a very heady, earthy, albeit bitter, brew.
There wasn’t even enough of Dr. Manhattan’s remains to bury after Ozymandias got through with him.
As for the cupcakes, if you take any lesson away from reading this today, it’s this: recipes are written down for a reason. What that reason is varies from cook to cook, but for the most part, it’s to provide a proven, documented legacy of culinary functionality for anyone who comes after that initial session in the kitchen. That said, I’m a person who likes to experiment with recipes, to tweak little things here and there, take something out and add something else, to make the dish my own and create my own legacy. There’s supposedly an unwritten rule among amateur cooks that states you can claim an established recipe as your own creation if you change at least three things about it, which has been the case for most of the cupcakes I’ve posted here during my tenure at ES.
But, as we all know, baking recipes are different than just mucking with a recipe for borscht or noodle soup or green bean casserole. Tweak something the wrong way, and you get a Friday Fuck Up that doesn’t care what day of the week it is.