Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Open Sesame

I bookmarked this recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert over 3 months ago, and made this cake twice within the past week. My dad came to visit last week, and I sent him back home with a box of treats - simple chocolate walnut cookies for the young one and something more refined for my mom. My mom, being so incredible in the kitchen, is definitely one with a discerning palate. Whenever she approves of something I make, I know that it has to be good. She called a few nights later, saying that she quite enjoyed this.

I changed the original recipe a bit, mainly to intensify the sesame flavor and to introduce a floral sweetness from the honey. My modifications are in blue. The cake is light and spongy, fragrant from the sesame oil, and flecked with black sesame seeds. Tasty and pretty.

Honey Sesame Cake

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil (I upped it to 2 tbsp)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I added 1/2 tbsp lemon juice to 1/2 cup whole milk)
1/4 cup toasted black sesame seed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8" cake pan.

In a small bowl, beat together eggs, sesame oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat softened butter until creamy. Add in sugar and honey and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in egg mixture. Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until flour is just combined. Add in 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Beat in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk. Finish with the last 1/3 of the flour. Stir in sesame seeds.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of honey.

*It is very important to use fresh toasted sesame seed oil. Untoasted wouldn't impart nearly enough flavor (and it sucks for everything else too), and rancid oil is just bad in general.

And while we're on the topic of sesame, meet zhi ma qiu (Chinese for sesame ball ^^). He's cute huh?

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