Hey everyone, it’s Lauren here!
I have always adored lemon cake, so after I started baking with tea, I was desperate to try out a new twist on my favorite dessert. After some experimentation, I had the idea to make a lemon cake with Yerba Mate tea! This cake riffs off a water cake recipe, which is a vegan type of cake made with seed oil. However, we are going to use tea instead of water to create a unique cake like you’ve never tasted before!
With Thanksgiving coming up, this is an excellent time to test out new recipes, and start baking. While pies are the classic Thanksgiving dessert, this lemon Yerba cake will offer a new and exciting flavor to your holiday evening. ;-)
Read on to find out...
Time to take your taste buds on a journey!
What Is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is an herbal tea from South America. It has a smooth, woody taste; somewhat similar to green tea, but richer and more herbaceous. It’s traditionally drunk with a straw out of a gourd called a bombilla, but it tastes just as yummy out of a regular ol’ mug as well!
Yerba mate leaves have a tendency to burn easily, so it’s important to brew them properly. I’ll go over how to do that for your cake in just a moment.
With around 85mg of caffeine per cup, Yerba mate tea is often used as a coffee substitute. However, unlike coffee, it doesn’t cause jitters or crashing.
This tea is also packed with nutrients and antioxidants. On the ORAC scale for measuring antioxidants, it scores a 1700 (by comparison, matcha scores 1384). (To learn more about ORAC scores, see our post: How are Antioxidants Measured?) To learn more about Yerba Mate and its benefits, check out our Yerba Mate Spotlight!
How to Make a Vegan Lemon Yerba Mate Cake
Now that you know about Yerba Mate, let’s learn how to bake with it! This tea infused cake makes a lovely addition to any gathering or relaxing afternoon, and it doesn’t involve any specialized equipment. Sounds like a perfect afternoon activity, right?
- 5 tbsp Matcha Alternatives’ Zing in Your Step Lemon Yerba Mate or Matcha Alternatives’ “The Purist” Green Yerba Mate
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup seed oil (I used grape seed oil)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- Vegan butter substitute for greasing the cake pan
Powdered sugar to top
1. First things first: preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. The next step is to actually brew the tea. I’m using Matcha Alternatives’ Zing in Your Step Lemon Yerba Mate for an extra lemongrass twist, but Matcha Alternatives’ “The Purist” Green Yerba Mate works great as well. Whichever tea you use, measure out 5 tbsp of the loose leaf blend.
3. Pour a little cold water over the tea leaves, swirl it around for a bit, and strain out. This cold-water rinse helps protect the leaves from being burned and releases their flavor better. This step is especially important, since the tea will be subjected to high oven temperatures.
During my first trial for this recipe, I didn’t rinse the leaves and the cake had a funny burned smell with a dark green inside from leaf color bleeding. Interesting, but not the best result.
Lesson learned: protect those leaves!
4. Once the leaves are rinsed, brew the mate in 1.5 cups of water. To avoid burning it, you will need water that is not quite boiling. I usually boil my kettle and then let it sit for two minutes to cool off a little before pouring the water over the mate. If you are making the tea on a stove, wait until bubbles just start to form on the bottom before adding the mate.
Seems like a super high mate-to-water ratio? Yep! The tea needs to be very strong to give your cake its delightful flavor.
5. After about 5 minutes of steeping, strain the liquid into a large bowl. At this point, I recommend re-using the loose leaf tea to brew yourself a cup of Yerba Mate just to drink. There will still be plenty of zing left in those leaves, so why let good tea go to waste?!
6. Add the juice and rind of your lemon to a mixing bowl, along with the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until the ingredients are well combined.
7. Add your seed oil, then slowly add the flour and baking powder, whisking well to avoid lumps.
Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan using your choice of vegan butter substitute.
Spoon the batter into the pan, and make sure that it’s spread evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Once the cake is out of the oven, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. This cake has a lovely spongy interior and a mildly sweet, citrusy, herbaceous flavor.
The Perfect Tea Accompaniment for Your Yerba Mate cake
Of course, no dessert is complete without a tea to go with it! This cake’s versatile flavor means that it goes really well with many different teas.
With practically any dessert, I simply adore Classy Earl Grey Rooibos. This tea is perfect for Earl Grey lovers, with sweet, woody undertones from the rooibos. In fact, after I took the photos for this blog post, I devoured a few slices of cake washed down with this very tea!
If you’re a mate fan (and you probably are after trying out this cake), why not drink some of the leftover Yerba Mate tea with your cake? Both 'The Purist' Green Yerba Mate and Zing in Your Step Lemon Yerba Mate will bring out the taste wonderfully.
For a super antioxidant boost, try pairing this cake with 'The Purist' Tulsi Holy Basil. The herby flavors of the tulsi and mate go really well together, and the lemon twist brings out the light spice of the tulsi.
A Note from Lauren
I’m something of a lemon cake fiend, so I was really excited to try out this recipe with one of my favorite teas. After some experimentation (and a weird green cake), I think I have found my new go-to vegan lemon cake recipe.
Not a mate Fan? Like to experiment with your baking? Good news! You can adjust this recipe to infuse basically any tea that you desire. Earl Grey cake? Chamomile cake? Lavender cake? The possibilities are endless!
If you make this cake for yourself, drop a comment below! Be sure to post it on Instagram as well! Tag us @matchaalternatives and use the hashtag #matchaalternatives, and you might just get a feature :D
Zing in Your Step Lemon Yerba Mate
Super high antioxidants and coffee-like caffeine hit start your day off right, and perfect for this recipe!
Smooth and woody, not at all bitter or sharp, and a lovely component of this recipe.
This loose leaf Tulsi tea has a rich, warm, herbaceous flavor with a light spice and sweetness. A great Accompaniment to your Lemon Yerba cake!
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All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.