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.
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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Japanese Black Sesame Chiffon Cake
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
Make the 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the rough black sesame paste (or black sesame seeds), and fold till just combined.
- To make the meringue: place egg whites into a dry and grease-free mixer bowl. Sprinkle over cream of tartar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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!
- Immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to 'hang' until completely cooled.
- To release the cake, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan, pressing against the pan as much as possible.
- 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.
- Chiffon cake is usually served 'upside-down'.
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.