Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil Cake

June  6, 2021
4.5 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

Adapted from Maialino's Olive Oil Cake, this off-road version swaps out olive oil for sesame oil, a nutty and pungent alternative. Although sesame oil was a pantry staple for me growing up (and a regular fixture in my kitchen now), I rarely—if ever—saw it applied in sweets. But if olive oil cake exists, surely there’s potential for sesame oil cake, too, right? I wanted to find out.

Because sesame oil’s flavor and aroma are so distinct, too much of it can easily render a dish one-dimensional at best and inedible at worst. I wanted to infuse sesame oil’s characteristically rich flavor into a cake without overpowering the whole dessert—admittedly a lofty aim. As with an olive oil cake, citrus zest and juice in the cake batter added some brightness and acidity, but I found that incorporating another key ingredient, honey, helped further balance and complement the sesame oil. In this recipe, a honey syrup is spooned over the cake while it’s still warm in the pan, then right before serving, the cake is topped with a honey whipped cream.

The result is a warming, sweet-but-not-too-sweet cake tinged with an interesting savory element. Finished with a handful of colorful berries, it’s a perfect way to celebrate spring and summer. —Joy Cho

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • makes One 8-inch round cake
  • Sesame Oil Cake
  • 150 grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 150 grams (¾ cup) granulated sugar
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) light brown sugar
  • 180 grams (¾ cup) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 72 grams (6 tablespoons) pure sesame oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 42 grams (3 tablespoons) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Honey Whipped Cream
  • 227 grams (1 cup) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, to taste
  • Fresh berries, such as blackberries or raspberries, for garnish (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch round baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the pan with parchment paper, and grease the parchment.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add both sugars and whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, oil, eggs, sour cream, orange juice and zest, and vanilla until completely smooth.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then carefully pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk just until smooth with no lumps, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the honey syrup: Mix the honey and 1 teaspoon of warm water in a small bowl until smooth. While the cake is still warm in the pan, poke small holes all over the surface of the cake with a toothpick and spoon the syrup on top. Let the cake sit for 10 to 15 minutes until the syrup is absorbed, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream and 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey using a stand mixer, electric hand mixer, or by hand, until medium peaks form. Top the cake with dollops of whipped cream and garnish with berries, if desired.

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