Tahini Cake with Blueberry Swirl

June 16, 2016
9 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

The foundational cake here is lush and bronzed, a dessert with effortless summer glow. It's like the Genius Maialino Olive Cake, but with a bitter edge that bites back against sweetness. Adapted from Falafel for Breakfast via Erin Made This.

A couple of notes on the cake!

It works without the blueberry swirl—which is a great option for the non-summer months (but try not to think about that yet!).

Instead of buttering the pan, you brush it with tahini, then sprinkle it generously with sesame seeds (I like a mix of black and white, but you can use all white if you'd like, or all black). Make sure to brush all the ins and outs of the pan thoroughly so that your cake does not stick. (You can also spray with nonstick spray for extra reassurance.)

For the jam layer, the blueberries get blitzed first, then cooked down with citrus juice and cornstarch. This reduces cooking time and means you don't have to transfer hot mush from your stove to your blender or food processor. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the swirl!:
  • 1 1/2 cups (220 grams) blueberries
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup (200 grams) tahini, plus 4 tablespoons for brushing the pan
  • 1/3 cup (45 grams) sesame seeds, plus 3 to 4 tablespoons for coating the pan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (190 milliliters) olive oil
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) orange juice
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. For the swirl!:
  2. In the food processor, purée the blueberries until you have a coarse mixture.
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and water to dissolve the cornstarch. Stir in the blueberries and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Then lower the heat and let the mixture simmer and bubble, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange juice; cool.
  1. For the cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Use a kitchen brush to smear the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with the 4 tablespoons of tahini. Make sure you get it in all the crevices and creases—it's the equivalent of "buttering" the pan.
  3. Use 3 to 4 tablespoons of sesame seeds (you can use a mix of white and black if you want!) to sprinkle all over the pan. You can shake the pan back and forth a bit, as if you were applying a flour coat, to make sure the seeds are evenly distributed.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and fully incorporated.
  5. While whisking gently, slowly pour in the olive oil, making sure it's fully emulsified. Add the orange juice and mix well.
  6. Stir in the tahini and mix until well combined and no lumps remain.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add to the bowl of wet ingredients and fold to combine. Add the remaining 1/3 cup sesame seeds and fold to incorporate.
  8. Pour 1/2 of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Spoon half of the cool berry mixture in a ring over top of the cake batter, then use a wooden skewer, offset spatula, or sharp knife to swirl the two together. Add the remaining batter and the remaining purée and again swirl until well incorporated—large swatches of pure purée could be problematic.
  9. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  10. Allow to cook in the pan completely, then flip onto a cooling rack.
  11. This will keep wrapped in foil, at room temperature, for 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ellen Huang
    Ellen Huang
  • Laura Dembowski
    Laura Dembowski
  • Sara Nguyen
    Sara Nguyen
  • stacieicats
  • i

26 Reviews

cocoloco December 10, 2021
I like tahini but this cake didn't work well. Cut the sugar by a little, so that's my fault. But the flavour combo wasn't as sharp as I'd like - the cornstarchy blueberries were a bit meh, against the strong tahini it wasn't really a point of contrast. Also took forever to bake so bare that in mind.
Ellen H. August 28, 2020
I reduced the sugar by 66% b/c it was too much. But 66% was probably too much. I normally love tahini but not a huge fan of the flavor of the cake except for the blueberry swirl. Also, cake tastes a little too oily/fatty for me.
anoush00 July 21, 2020
I baked this at 325 for 75 minutes in the middle of the oven, after checking the temperature with an oven thermometer. It came up to halfway in the pan, and still looks very moist...I hope not TOO moist, so it’ll unmold and not be goopy.
anoush00 July 22, 2020
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it grew on me. It’s coarse-crumbed and densely textured, still moist (after baking 75 minutes), and flavorful. My blueberry ribbons tasted good, but looked watered down in color. I put a few spoonfuls of full-fat Greek yogurt with it, and that was delightful.
Lorri June 20, 2020
I'm not sure what happened but for me this turned out as a slimy mess and a waste of ingredients. I cooked it for 70 minutes at 325 degrees. The top was cooked to the point of being cracked. I left it on top of the stove for a bit and then flipped it over to see a puddle of batter ooze all over the counter. It's now nearly 10pm and I'm putting it back in the oven at 350. I suppose I shouldn't complain that the free recipe I got online wasn't easy or good. But I can't help it. The picture looked so pretty and the result was so disappointing.
Laura D. July 15, 2018
I actually turned this into a Paleo cake and swapped the swirl for fresh fruit and LOVED it! It's one of my favorite things I have made in a long time and I can't stop thinking about it. I posted all about it on my blog:
Erin September 12, 2017
I had been daydreaming about slathering toast with tahini and sprinkling with blueberries and found this recipe instead! I made it yesterday for Sunday dinner, and it was a huge hit. Delicious! I made a slight change: I substituted 210 grams of whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour, added an extra splash of OJ, and baked a few extra minutes. Now I'm daydreaming about a fig-swirled version!
Sara N. July 28, 2017
I just baked this for breakfast--I'm very pleased with the tender crumb and permeating tahini flavor. My only recommendation is to use 200 g (approximately 1 cup) sugar, or even less. It's a delightful cake!
stacieicats July 13, 2017
If my tahini is on the more liquidy rather than pastey side, do I need to adjust the amount?
tranquility February 22, 2017
It's borderline embarrassing how much I like this cake. Tahini in baking is just so tasty.
Sarah J. February 22, 2017
Yay, so glad to hear it!
Kathy September 17, 2016
I just finished making this cake and it is delicious. I cut the sugar back to 3/4 of a cup and it was not missed at all. The blueberry swirl adds a jammyness so there is no need for so much sugar in the batter, if that is your preference. My cake did not seem to rise as much as the one pictured and also most of the sesame seeds stuck to the pan leaving very few left on the cake☹️. What could be better than a cake that's actually good for you👌🏼!
Juliebell August 17, 2016
I can't wait to try this. I made the Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from the NYT and they were great. Tahini adds such a nutty, savory flavor.
Xstickllama August 12, 2016
Fantastic! I needed to use up some old tahini and this cake was a great use for it. I did not have all of the required sesame seeds so I also used poppy seeds. I used my fingers to really saturate the pan, allowing it to slide easily out of the mold after cooling for 10 minutes. My husband was happy to see (and taste) that it wasn't so dense that light could escape through it. I baked it for 62 minutes at high altitude.
i July 12, 2016
Trying this! Any idea whether it'd work to replace the eggs?
Sarah J. July 12, 2016
I'm not sure! Maybe this post can give you some guidance?
i July 13, 2016
I'm going to experiment, thanks!
Maureen July 11, 2016
But what is tahini? I bake and have never heard of it ....
ghainskom July 11, 2016
Tahini is sesame paste. Often found with "exotic" food products.
Sarah J. July 11, 2016
Here's some more information on it!
Maureen September 22, 2016
Thank you!
ghainskom July 7, 2016
This is like a pb&j cake. Mine turned rather moist, to the point that I had to bake it 20 min longer. Not sure if this is due to too much tahini in the recipe or my scale malfunctioning. I'd bake it again.
Sarah J. July 11, 2016
Might also be because your tahini was a different consistency? Glad it turned out well anyway!
Nadia G. June 27, 2016
I have never heard of using tahini in a cake. Sounds intriguing.
Renée R. June 25, 2016
Gotta have this now. Am on my way to buy the ingredients.
Sarah J. June 27, 2016
Hope it turned out well!