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Eve M. Tai
Cafe de Lion's Zen Cake.
There's nothing we'd love more than to have our cake and eat it too. We crave scrumptious

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Seattle's Top 5 Baked Goods With Green Tea

zen.jpg
Eve M. Tai
Cafe de Lion's Zen Cake.
There's nothing we'd love more than to have our cake and eat it too. We crave scrumptious sweets but denounce their sinful nature in the same breath; Reverend Dimmesdale's torment over Hester Prynne had nothing on our guilt/pleasure complex over desserts. So to the list of non-dairy whipped cream, low-fat glazed donuts, and other non sequiturs, we add green-tea pastries and cakes.

Green tea is the Asian elixir famed for its hopped-up antioxidants. If you put green tea in desserts, the logic goes, they'll be good for you too. Hey, whatever works. (Though some bakers are cutting back on the sugar to ease up on the palate and the calories). Pastry chefs can blend matcha, a powdered green tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies, right into cake batter, custard, or pastry dough. Green-tea confections don't always work--matcha is no shrinking violet--but when they do, they offer a novel twist from the East without giving up much of the West.

Here are the top five baked goods with green tea in Seattle (in no special order):

Zen Cake, Café de Lion, Queen Anne.

Stacked like a mod high-rise and high on drama, Café de Lion's Zen Cake begins on the ground floor with chocolate sponge cake. From there, it builds with layers of homemade almond milk cream studded with almonds, more cake, and orbs of premium Uji green-tea mousse. A razor-thin layer of dark chocolate tops the creation. One bite yields textures ranging from cushiony to creamy to crunchy. The Zen Cake is as complex and memorable as a Frank Gehry building.

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Eve M. Tai
Fuji Bakery's Green Tea Danish.
Green Tea Danish,Fuji Bakery, International District & Bellevue.

Here's one for the people--a workhorse of a pastry that doesn't try to be one of the pretty girls. Despite its exotic mixed heritage, it's down-to-earth, sweet as can be, and aims to please. It's chewy when it needs to be, crusty at other times, and plain fun to pull apart. Though you'll find a few red beans tucked inside here and there, the Green Tea Danish lives up to its name with ample green-tea flavor (are those actual leaves in there?) mixed into the almond cream base.

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Eve M. Tai
Fresh Flours' Green Tea & Azuki Bean Muffin.
Green Tea & Azuki Bean Muffin, Fresh Flours, Phinney Ridge & Ballard.

Don't be put off by this ugly doll of the muffin world or its Martian-green landscape when you tear off the top. The Green Tea & Azuki Bean Muffin is a daily sellout at Fresh Flours for good reason. Hearty and wholesome, it snuggles up to you in the most unsuspecting way before it nabs your taste buds and your fancy. No, it won't make you give up sugar or butter, and yes, the matcha is abundant. But even with its slightly grassy tone, this muffin will sell you on green tea and azuki beans as bona fide baked-goods ingredients.

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Eve M. Tai
Hiroki's Green Tea Tiramisu.
Green Tea Tiramisu, Hiroki, Tangletown (Green Lake).

Hiroki was one of the first bakeries in Seattle to usher a green-tea dessert to fame. The Green Tea Tiramisu comes in pastels that match Hiroki's interior--sea foam, mossy green, and ivory cream. Layers of moist and light green-tea mousse and pastry cream lie atop a vanilla sponge-cake base. Like the colors, the taste is subtle, softly sweet, and soothing as a Laura Ashley seaside cottage.

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photo courtesy of Setsuko
Setsuko's Green Tea Roll Cake.
Setsuko's Green Tea Roll Cake (Available at Issian Stone Grill,

1618 N. 45th St., Seattle).

Hey, a grown-up version of the Baskin Robbins ice-cream-roll cake. Like its American cousin, you might need both a fork and spoon for Setsuko's Green Tea Roll Cake. It won't melt, but you'll still want to scoop and scrape up every dollop and crumb. The matcha roll cake, spongy and giving, wraps around mounds of whipped cream and red-bean paste as cozily as a mama bear around her cubs. Three kinds of goodness rolled into one.

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