Adapted from a Japanese-inspired recipe for black sesame chiffon cake by Okashi, this recipe uses a blend of home-made or store-bought spreadable black sesame paste as well as roughly ground black sesame to create a moist and fluffy chiffon with a deep, nutty flavour and tasty bits of crunch throughout.
I have my dear friend, Priscilla – an avid, passionate and talented home cook and baker herself – to thank for sharing this wonderful cake recipe for black sesame chiffon cake.
The cake book by Japanese author, Okashi, as I discovered through my internet reads, is one of the most popularly blogged about, when it comes to Asian-inspired chiffon cakes. Many have gone on to adapt or tweak this particular recipe, which I always find inspiring, as baking is all about making something your own to suit your tastes and of those whom you lovingly bake for.
I have always enjoyed black sesame in whatever way it is prepared. Whether as a spread or dressing, as crispy biscuit snacks or in breads and rolls, as a Chinese sweet soup (black sesame soup) or tong sui, or in cakes such as this Japanese-inspired black sesame chiffon cake. Black sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, proteins, calcium, iron and phosphorus. In traditional Chinese medicine, black sesames are representative of the black food group. Black foods are generally regarded as effective food tonics that nourish the liver and kidney, having beneficial effects on the meridians of these vital bodily organs and thus, improving their functions.
Black sesame paste is called for in Okashi’s recipe. I would like to add here that 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 commercially produced, spreadable black sesame paste available at certain supermarkets and organic health product stores. What’s the catch, you might ask? You’ll need a fairly powerful blender. That’s it. But if you’ve got so much better things to do with your time, just head out and get store-supplied black sesame paste. I have been told that NTUC Finest Fairprice supermarkets do stock these, as well as some organic food stores like Yes Natural.
Here, I made my own in the same way that I would usually prepare some to make Chinese black sesame soup. Just dry roast black sesame seeds in a wok or skillet until toasted. (Tip! Throw in some white sesame seeds into the black sesame mix and dry roast until you see the white seeds start to turn a light, toasty brown, then you know it’s done). Then grind the toasted seeds in a fairly powerful blender, as fine as your blender will allow, till it comes together in a clumpy paste (due to the oils being released as the seeds are ground) – and while you’re at it, you’re surely going to enjoy that absolutely glorious aroma of toasted sesame!
To get from this clumpy, grainy paste to a finer, silky-smooth paste, I then add some canola oil and blend or pulverise until a smooth, fine, but very thick, spreadable texture is achieved. I use both the roughly ground paste, as well as the smooth, spreadable paste. I have found that this combination creates a deeper, nuttier flavour, plus really 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.