Hummingbird Bakery’s famously light, fluffy cupcakes, made complicated with earthy matcha undertones brought out by a touch of cocoa.
The Hummingbird Bakery is a classic comfort spot, meant to bring traditional American home baking to the UK. Think: the NYC-based Magnolia Bakery, made famous by Sex and the City, or the kind of pinup-style bakery that I imagine was closed in the movie Bridesmaids. It’s unpretentious and welcoming, with all the familiar flavours that come to mind when you think of no-frills desserts.
Which is why, among the red velvets and lemon poppyseeds, matcha really stands out in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Because even though I’ve loved the flavour of matcha long before Starbucks made it palatable by pumping it with whipped cream and sugar, I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
On its own, it can be bitter and grassy; and if not mixed properly can easily result in dry powdery clumps. It’s one of those tough ingredients to master, and admittedly I wasn’t expecting these cupcakes to be my very favourite.
The first red flag being, cocoa powder? What gives? White chocolate, maaaybe. I compared matcha cake recipes, and very few (if not none) contained cocoa. I had my doubts, but then reminded myself that Hummingbird would never steer me astray.
I’m glad to have stuck with my gut feeling, because these cupcakes turned out to be full of intricate flavour, adding new characteristics to an uninspired chocolate cake. Plus, the cocoa isn’t too overbearing, especially with the hit of matcha you get from the icing.
So if you’re new to matcha or a longtime lover, I’d give these a shot. What’s more interesting than an American-style British bakery that incorporates Japanese flavour profiles?
In the making
✘ The original recipe says to fill cupcake liners until two-thirds full, but err on the side of one half full. They rise quite a bit! Plus there’s just enough of this batter to make 12 perfectly sized cupcakes, even though you will second-guess it.
✔ If you’re spontaneously making these cupcakes and don’t have time to let the tea bags sit in the milk overnight, warm up the milk in a small saucepan over the stove and drop the tea bags in when the milk is steamy. Let the teabags sit in the milk for as much time as you’ve got.
✔ For those who like their cupcake to icing ratio to be 1:2 — and let’s face it, for sweet tooths (teeth?), the cupcake is just a carrier for the icing — multiply the icing recipe by 1.5 or 2.
✔ Set aside some matcha powder to sprinkle on top the finished cupcake, OR get creative and stick in any green snacks you can find.
Hummingbird Bakery green tea matcha chocolate cupcakes
Hummingbird Bakery's famously light, fluffy cupcakes, made complicated with earthy matcha undertones brought out by a touch of cocoa.
For the cupcakes
- 1/2 cup whole milk (120 mL)
- 3 green tea bags
- 100g plain flour
- 20g cocoa powder
- 140 grams caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 40 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Green tea frosting
- 250 grams icing sugar, sifted
- 80 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 20 grams matcha green tea powder
- 20 mL whole milk
- Put the milk and green tea bags in a jar cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Remove the green tea bags from the infused milk and combine with egg and vanilla extract.
- Slowly pour half of the wet mixture into the flour mixture, beating well until all ingredients are well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat to make sure there are no lumps.
- Turn the speed back down to medium-slow and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until it’s all smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into paper cases until half full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.
For the green tea frosting
- Beat together icing sugar and butter in an electric mixer on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together.
- Slowly pour in the milk and turn to high speed until it’s all light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Set 1/4 aside in a piping bag for the white-icing decoration, if desired.
- Add matcha to the mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Spoon into a separate piping bag.
- With the green matcha icing, pipe along the edges of the cupcake.
- With the white icing, pipe a small circle in the centre.
- Top with matcha sweets – I used a matcha KitKat and mochi!