Japanese Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

16 comments All Recipes, Cake Recipes, Light Bites
Adapted from Japanese Chef Keiko Ishida’s recipe for black sesame chiffon cake, this cake is moist and fluffy with a unique, rich and nutty flavour. Tasty bits of black sesame paste add a delicious crunch too.
Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

A friend recently shared this cake recipe for Japanese black sesame chiffon cake, and it is scrumptious! Moist and fluffy as chiffon cakes should be!

The unique flavour and texture of black sesame paste infuses the cake with delicious nutty notes. Yet it tastes so light and airy, that you can easily take in a few slices!

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

Japanese Chef Ishida’s recipe is one of the most popularly blogged about when it comes to Asian-inspired chiffon cakes. Many home bakers have gone on to adapt or tweak this particular recipe, which I always find inspiring.

After all, baking should be about taking a recipe and making it your own to suit your tastes and of those whom you lovingly bake for.

The goodness of black sesame seeds

Whether as a spread or dressing, as crispy biscuit snacks or in breads and rolls, black sesame seeds make nutritious and delicious foods. The Chinese have long believed in the tonic benefits of black sesame.

Black sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, proteins, calcium, iron and phosphorus. In traditional Chinese medicine, black sesame seeds are representative of the black food group.

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

Black foods are generally regarded as effective food tonics that nourish the liver and kidney. Food tonics have beneficial effects on the meridians of our vital bodily organs, thus improving their functions.

We usually prepare a Chinese sweet soup or tong sui like black sesame soup. This is the first time I’ve used black sesame in baking, and I’ve long wanted to bake a Japanese black sesame chiffon cake. 

Ingredients for black sesame chiffon cake

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

For the batter:

  • Egg yolks
  • Brown sugar
  • Black sesame paste (store-bought or home-made)
  • Black sesame seeds (optional)
  • Water
  • Oil
  • Cake flour (Don’t have any? No worries, make your own from scratch)
  • Baking powder

For the meringue:

  • Egg whites
  • Cream of tartar
  • Caster sugar

Black sesame paste

Chef Keiko Ishida’s recipe uses Japanese black sesame paste. At the time I was going to make this, I didn’t have any store-bought on hand. So I decided to make a homemade paste. If you’ve got the time to make your own black sesame paste, I highly recommend it!

It’s really not as tedious as one might think, and it is possible to get your home-made paste almost on par with store-bought spreadable black sesame paste.

What’s the catch, you might ask? You’ll need a fairly powerful blender. That’s about it. But if you’ve got so much better things to do with your time, just head out and get ready-made black sesame paste.

How to make black sesame paste in 3 easy steps

  • Dry fry black sesame seeds in a wok or skillet until toasted over low medium heat. Here’s a useful tip! Throw some white sesame seeds in with the black. Fry until you see the white seeds start to turn a light, toasty brown. Then you know it’s done. This can take about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Grind the toasted seeds in a food processor. Get it as fine as you can, until the seeds come together in a rough paste. Don’t worry if the paste starts to clump together. This is because natural oils are being released as the seeds get ground. Now, set aside 1¼ cup of this rough paste aside for the recipe.
  • To get the smooth paste for the recipe, blend 1 cup of the rough paste with 3 tbsp neutral-flavoured oil. Then process again until the paste is smooth, thick but spreadable.
Black sesame chiffon cake

I have found that using both the rough and smooth black sesame pastes in the recipe creates a bolder, nuttier flavour. Plus the rough clumps add tasty bits of crunch throughout the cake.

These little crunchy bits are not to be taken lightly. They pack a flavourful, nutty punch! Much like biting into roughly crushed bits of Oreo cookies (minus the sugar)!

If you have store-bought paste, just skip the first part of the recipe instructions on how to make your own.

Here are more chiffon/sponge cakes to inspire your next bake:

Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

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Japanese Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

Japanese Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Adapted from Japanese Chef Keiko Ishida’s recipe, this black sesame chiffon cake is moist and fluffy with a unique, rich and nutty flavour. Tasty bits of black sesame paste add a delicious crunch too.

Ingredients

For black sesame paste (makes extra) - can be made ahead.

  • 400 g black sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp canola oil

For the batter:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 20 g brown sugar
  • 25 g smooth black sesame paste (or store-bought)
  • 60 g water
  • 40 g canola oil
  • 70 g or cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup rough black sesame paste (or 20 g black sesame seeds)

For the meringue:

  • 180 g egg whites
  • ¾ tsp cream of tartar
  • 90 g caster sugar

Instructions

Make the black sesame paste:

  1. Heat up a wok or skillet over low fire. When hot, add half of the black sesame seeds and dry fry for about 10 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Repeat with the remaining half. Tip! Add a few white sesame seeds into the mix. When the white seeds turn a light, toasty brown, scoop out the batch.
  2. Blend the toasted seeds until it becomes a paste. Occasionally stop to scoop the paste off the sides of the blender. Repeatedly blend until you get as fine a paste as possible.
  3. Take 1 cup of the paste from (2) above. Add 3 tbsp canola oil and blend until the paste is fine and smooth. Set aside 25 g.

Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Position the oven rack on the lowest in the oven. Have a 20-cm (8-inch) chiffon tube pan ready. DO NOT GREASE.
  1. In a mixing bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. In another bowl, combine water, canola oil and smooth black sesame paste. Stir until well combined.
  2. Using a whisk or hand-held mixer, whip egg yolks and brown sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Pour in the black sesame mixture from (1). Whisk until well combined.
  3. Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir with a whisk until all the flour is incorporated and no streaks of flour are visible. The mixture should be free of lumps.
  4. Add the rough black sesame paste (or black sesame seeds), and fold till just combined.
  5. To make the meringue: place egg whites into a dry and grease-free mixer bowl. Sprinkle over cream of tartar.
  6. With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites at high speed (speed 4 to 5 on my Kitchen Aid). Whisk on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid). When the egg whites become frothy, add sugar bit by bit in a steady stream. Whip until stiff peaks form. This may take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your mixer and speed.
  7. Add meringue to the batter in 3 additions. Each time, fold in gently with a whisk until well incorporated. The final batter should feel light, and have no visible streaks of meringue.
  8. Pour the batter into the chiffon tube pan. Level and smooth the surface. Run a bamboo skewer throughout the batter to eliminate air pockets. Gently tap the pan a couple of times on the counter top.

Baking and cooling:

  1. Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until done. DO NOT open the oven door. Only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to test if done. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Note: A bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes is perfectly alright!
  2. Immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to 'hang' until completely cooled.
  3. To release the cake, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible.
  4. Then invert the pan again so that the bottom is now facing up. Gently tap or push the pan's base to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.
  5. Chiffon cake is usually served 'upside-down'.

Notes

How to store homemade black sesame paste

  • The black sesame paste may be made ahead of time. This will save you a lot of time on the day you intend to bake this cake.
  • The recipe makes more black sesame paste than is required. The extra will keep well if stored in air-tight container and kept chilled in the refrigerator. I have had extras of both types of pastes keep very well for up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

1. USE THE RIGHT PAN

Chiffon cakes are best baked in a chiffon tube pan without non-stick coating. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN.

2. USE THE APPROPRIATE PAN SIZE

In order for the cake to rise straight and tall, use the appropriate sized pan. When the pan is filled with batter, it should not be more than 3/4 full.

3. HAVE INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, INCLUDING EGGS

Cold egg whites do not whip up as well, so it won’t trap as much air as egg whites at room temperature.

4. WHIP MERINGUE TO THE IDEAL STIFFNESS

How to test: When you lift the whisk, the meringue should stand straight and firm, with the tip just bent over like a hook. Also, if you gently invert the bowl, the meringue should stay stuck when fully inverted. If it starts to slide or shift a bit, it is not yet at stiff peaks.

5. SIFT POWDERED INGREDIENTS TOGETHER

This will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly. Sifting helps distribute the leavening agents evenly throughout the flour.

6. DO ALL YOUR MIXING, STIRRING AND FOLDING WITH A WHISK

The meringue will incorporate more easily and thoroughly, with minimal loss of volume due to the inherent shape and structure of the whisk. It also helps reduce or eliminate air pockets in the batter.

7. INVERT THE CHIFFON PAN ONCE OUT OF THE OVEN

Once removed from the oven, immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Or if you have tube pan with ‘feet’, invert the pan over a cooling rack. Allow it to ‘hang’ in this position until completely cooled.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 (One) 20-cm chiffon cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 10g

All nutritional values are approximate only.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

16 Comments

  1. Hi Forest, I’ve not ever tried making a paste out of black sesame powder. It may work out better mixing the powder with a bit of oil, just enough to make it into a thick paste. The paste should ideally be thick, and not too runny. Using water might tip the balance of liquids in the recipe. Hope this helps, and if you don’t mind, would love to hear if it works out this way! Cheers!

  2. Hi Celia, I have some sesame powder on hand, can I just add water and make it into the paste and add into it?

  3. Hi Samantha, my apologies that this reply is coming late. An overbeaten meringue will start to ‘weep’, meaning that you’ll see whites turn a little liquid at the base of your bowl. One way to know that the meringue has reached stiff peaks, is when you lift the whisk, the whites will hold a fairly stiff shape on the whisk, with ends ending in a slight hook. Another way is to SLOWLY overturn your mixer bowl, and if the meringue stays ‘fixed’ to the bowl when held upside down, it has reached stiff peak stage. If it helps, visit my post for a citrus chiffon cake at https://www.foodelicacy.com/golden-citrus-chiffon-cake-orange-lemon-chiffon-cake/ which shows what stiff peaks should look like.

  4. hi celia,
    how can you tell if you’ve over beaten your meringue? What should the meringue look like when you stop beating? thanks.

  5. Hi Jesslyn, any brand of raw (untoasted) black sesame seeds will do. If you happen to have some white untoasted ones, sprinkle them in with the black when dry roasting them in the pan, it’s easier to tell when the black ones are toasted enough once the white ones turn a toasted brown.??

  6. Hi Celia, may i ask if I would like to check if the black sesame seeds are raw before I dry roast them? What brand did you buy?

  7. Hi Rae, thank you for writing!?I’m not sure how to adjust for a 26-cm chiffon cake tin. You could try doubling the recipe – it’s probably easier to re-calculate the recipe amounts that way though I’m sure you’ll have leftover batter as you can only fill your chiffon tin up to 2/3 full. You could bake the leftover in paper muffin cups if you like. You’ll need to bake muffins separately as they take a shorter time. Hope this could be of help to you! ?

  8. Hi Celia,
    Would love to try your recipe for your black sesame chiffon cake however instead of a 20cm chiffon pan i only have a 26cm. Do you have any suggestions on how to adjust the quantities of ingredients in your recipe?

  9. Hi Jessica, yes, you certainly could do that if the paste has a significant sugar content. It might be a good idea to do a taste test of the paste you have (I’ve used the Japanese variety which hardly has much sugar at all). The cake recipe, as is, isn’t very sweet to start with, in my humble opinion. Hope this helps!

  10. If I use store-bought black sesame paste, would you recommend reducing the sugar content, as the paste would contain extra sugar.

  11. Hi Nicky, yayyy!!! I’m so happy to hear of your successful bake! Thank you so much for sharing…keep your feedback coming, ya? Enjoy and happy baking! Cheers, Celia

  12. I just tried this today and it was sooo good! I was really excited cos it’s my first chiffon cake and it was a success.
    Thank you for the detailed recipes and I’ve bookmarked a few more that I’ll want to try too:)

  13. Hi Shasha, it sounds like your oven temperature was okay if the surface started to crack only after 25 mins of baking, and it’s perfectly normal (I’d even say almost unavoidable?) for chiffon cakes to crack (just not too early into baking as that could mean that your cake is rising too quickly and could deflate later). I adjust my baking temperatures anywhere between 150 to 170 deg too, so baking at 150 deg should be okay but might take a little longer. More importantly though, how did you find the texture of the cake? Do share…Cheers, Celia

  14. Hi Celia,

    My cake did crack while baking but only after 25mins. You were saying maybe the oven temperaute is too high, so I bought an oven thermometer to judge. But unfortunately, it didn’t help much too . Recipe says to bake at 170’c, my oven thermometer says 150’c..but cake still cracked.

  15. Hello Athena! Thank you so much for trying this cake, I’m so happy you liked how it turned out! Hope you’ll find more recipes here to interest you…keep the feedback coming too! Cheers! Celia

  16. Hi! I just tried this recipe and it was really good! The black sesame flavour really shone through and the colour was gorgeous! Thanks for the recipe

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