This is a cake made because of the right things happening at the right time. A cake created out of fate perhaps. I would never have thought of making a sesame seed cake. It seems like an unlikely pairing – cake batter with sesame seeds. However, I am here to tell you that you must try it. It has a soft moist crumb that is lifted with the slight bite of the sesame, you can just taste the richness of the toasted sesame oil and it’s a cake that improves with sitting about for a few days.
A friend gave me a packet of sesame seeds that he wouldn’t use. I love gifts like this as it forces you to think of something to do with an ingredient that you might not normally buy. We had also taken the girls to Birmingham to see the new library, which by the way if you find yourself in the West Midlands then you must visit. I love the building, from the outside it looks like a giant cake, which is always a good thing. The inside is pretty impressive too, you travel up the escalators past rows and rows of lovely books. It is deeply pleasing. It has lots of interesting spaces where you can squirrel yourself away for hours – should you have the time. It makes me wish I was back at university, but I fear that I have already spent far too much of my life in that institution already. I find the whole concept of the city’s flagship building being a library very satisfying indeed. Anyway, back to the point. A visit to Birmingham is not complete without a visit to the Chinese supermarket. This time, among other treasures, I picked up a bottle of toasted sesame oil. So I found myself in possession of both sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil making this cake possible. How very glad I am for auspicious circumstances.
50g sesame seeds
120g softened unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
150g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120 ml butter milk (or milk with a few drops of lemon juice mixed in and left to stand for ten minutes)
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin and preheat the oven to 180°c, or use the baking oven of the Aga.
Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until lightly golden and tip out onto a plate and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the sesame oil and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, salt and sesame seeds and then fold in the buttermilk.
Spoon the batter into the cake tin and level the top carefully. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for ten minutes and then turn out to cool on a wire rack, peeling off the lining paper.