Japanese Black Sesame Chiffon Cake
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.
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!
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 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
For the batter:
- Egg yolks
- Brown sugar
- Black sesame paste (store-bought or home-made)
- Black sesame seeds (optional)
- 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.
- You’ll have more than enough rough black sesame paste for the recipe. This keeps well chilled or frozen, sealed in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. I like to use up the extras by making this Chinese sweet soup, black sesame filled glutinuous rice balls in sweet osmanthus ginger soup.
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:
- Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- No-Fail Pandan Chiffon Cake, Easy Step-by-step Recipe
- Beautiful Orange Chiffon Cake – Fresh & Zesty Citrus Flavour
- Vanilla Chiffon Cake + Tips for the Perfect Chiffon Bake!
Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.
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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 (at room temperature)
- 20 g brown sugar
- 25 g smooth black sesame paste (or store-bought black sesame paste)
- 60 g water
- 40 g canola oil
- 70 g top flour (or cake flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ cup roughly ground black sesame paste (or 20 g black sesame seeds)
- 180 g egg whites (at room temperature)
- ¾ tsp cream of tartar
- 90 g caster sugar
To Make Black Sesame Paste:
- 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. (Tip: Add a few white sesame seeds into the mix. When the white seeds turn a light, toasty brown, scoop out the batch). Repeat with the remaining half.
- Using a blender, blend or pulverise the toasted sesame seeds until it becomes a paste. It will clump together due to the oils being released as the seeds are ground. Do not be tempted to add any oil to grease the blades at this stage. Scoop the paste off the sides of the blender towards the blades with a spatula, and blend or pulverise. Repeat until you cannot get the paste ground any finer. Set aside 1/4 cup of this rough paste.
- Take 1 cup of the roughly ground paste from (2) above. Add 3 tbsp canola oil and blend or pulverise as finely and smoothly as possible, until a smooth black sesame paste is achieved. Set aside 25 grams of this smooth paste.
To Make the Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C (320 deg F).
- In a measuring cup or bowl, mix water, canola oil and 25 grams smooth black sesame paste (from step 3 above, or store-bought black sesame paste) and stir until well combined.
- In an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk egg yolks with brown sugar, on high speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid mixer) till pale, thick and almost doubled in volume. Lower speed to medium, and slowly pour in the mixture from step 5 above. Whisk until just combined.
- Sift flour and baking powder together into the mixture. Fold in the flour using a hand whisk or spatula. If using the mixer, mix on low speed just long enough for most of the flour to blend into the mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Add 1/4 cup roughly ground black sesame paste (from step 2 above, or 20 grams black sesame seeds) and fold till just combined. Finish folding by hand, scraping all flour off the sides of the bowl, and into the mixture until incorporated. This will help prevent over-folding or over-mixing. Transfer to a clean deep bowl (if you only have one mixer bowl that comes with your electric mixer) and set aside. Wash the whisk attachment and mixer bowl, and dry thoroughly. Important: The whisk and bowl must be absolutely dry and grease-free to whisk the meringue.
- To make the meringue, place egg whites into the cleaned mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at high speed (speed 4 to 5 on my Kitchen Aid). When the egg whites just begin to foam, add the cream of tartar while whisking. A few seconds later, add the remaining sugar in a slow and steady stream. Continue to whisk egg whites until glossy and stiff peak stage. Important: Do not over-beat the egg whites, otherwise the cake will turn out dry.
- Add 1/3 of the meringue to the yolk mixture and fold using a spatula. Gently fold in the remaining meringue, ensuring that the meringue is well incorporated. Be careful not to over fold or mix, as the sesame paste in the mixture may cause the batter to lose volume and result in a dense texture when baked.
- Pour the batter into an ungreased 20 cm chiffon tube pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter top to eliminate air pockets, and gently run a thin spatula in an ‘S’ motion throughout the batter as air pockets may be trapped. Ensure that the batter reaches the same height all around the pan, and smooth the surface evenly.
- Bake at the lowest rack in the oven for 40 to 45 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. When done, remove from the oven and immediately invert the tube pan onto a cake rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before loosening the cake. Note: It is perfectly normal for the surface of the batter to crack during baking; however, if it starts to crack before the first 15 mins of baking has passed, it may indicate that the oven temp is too high.
- To loosen the cake, turn it up again so that the surface of the cake is now facing up. Insert a flat blade in between the cake and pan and run the blade around the circumference of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible. Then invert the pan again so that the bottom of the pan 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 blade between the base and the bottom of the cake to loosen it from the base of the pan.