Black sesame chocolate cake, looking into the heart of darkness

A person with a vivid imagination could easily gaze into the inky black oil slick that is this cake batter and associate it with all that is dark and evil. Easy to do, in the distressing and challenging times we are currently living in. The portion of my soul that is part poet longs to wax allegorically. However, the pragmatist within, gave the poet inside, a short sharp slap around the chops. Serving as a stern reminder that this was merely a cake made of black sesame powder, given as a gift by a sweet friend. Pondering what to do with this bounty, there was certainly something fortuitous in the recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed a day or so later.

Black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B and iron and the Chinese believe they assist in slowing down the ageing process. (Anti-ageing you cry! Be warned, they can also have a laxative effect so don’t start chowing down on them by the handful.) They contain nutrients that protect the heart, aid digestion and can assist in lactation. Quite the tiny powerhouse indeed.

Ground sesame has the aroma of a musty health food store but this rich dense cake ends up tasting nutty and earthy. The generous slathering of chocolate ganache atop this somewhat grim looking bake is a decadent and welcome addition. Maybe it is a cake perfect for a Halloween or Day of the Dead celebration. Our children were extremely fond of this toothsome dessert despite it’s subdued sweetness. To the point of asking for extra servings, repeatedly. And there certainly isn’t anything dark about that.


200g (1 1/3 cups) black sesame seeds (I used 1 cup ground sesame seed powder as that’s what I had.)
200g butter, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (1 cup) coconut sugar
100g (1 cup) almond meal
35g (1/3 cup) plain gluten free flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
Chocolate Ganache
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml pure cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. (I didn’t need to as my seeds were already ground.)
Put the butter and sesame seed paste into a saucepan and cook over a low heat until melted.
Remove from heat and place into a large bowl, allow to cool down for ten minutes.
Stir the eggs and sugar into the sesame seed mixture.
Sift the almond meal, flour and baking powder into the sesame seed mixture and gently fold to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand in the tin for ten minutes before turning onto a cake tray to cool completely.
To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes, until thickened.
Spread the ganache over the cake and allow to set. Cut into small pieces and serve.

Recipe from the SBS Food Website taken from Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo, published by Harlequin.

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

So, we just finished watching the Rolling Stones Sweet Summer Sun Live Hyde Park concert on the tele. Filmed in 2013, it commemorated 44 years after their legendary free concert in July 1969. The Stones song, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday was written in 1966. A fitting musical backdrop to an era of free love and bell bottomed trousers.

I try not to roll in the field of regrets overly much. However, some small sorrow exists at never having seeing the Stones live on stage. This ‘once upon a time almost rock chick’, can only imagine how it must have felt to play in front of a crowd of that magnitude.

One of the highlights of my own rock n roll past, was keeping a close eye on drunk 20 something’s swaying dangerously close to the sound equipment with beer in hand. Death by electrocution was bound to be my somewhat ignominious end.

Having made it through those dark rock n roll days, I dedicate this ruby red studded plum cake to the Rolling Stones. Super inspired by the amazing Sierra plums at our local Growers Market, I felt the need to bake something sweet. Gluten free of course, gotta keep The Yak in cake.

This recipe is based on the wonderful Smitten Kitchen version. (You can see the link below for the full story). This cheergerm adaptation uses gluten free flours (as well as a few other minor changes.)

Like many gluten free baked goodies, this cake is extremely delicate so be careful when moving and cutting it. Tart and toffeeish with an almost pudding like texture, it would be ace served as a dessert at your next dinner party.

I am sure that if Mr Mick Jagger ever came for round for tea, he would totally enjoy a slice.

Gluten Free Plum Cake

1/2 cup gf plain flour
1/4 cup teff flour
1/4 cup almond meal (if wanting nut free substitute with 1/4 cup of extra gf plain flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Xanthum gum
Pinch of salt
115 g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup coconut sugar (or rapadura, or raw caster sugar)
2 large eggs
8 Sierra plums, cut in half and destoned

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 175C.
Grease and line with baking paper a 23 cm springform tin.
Sift gf plain flour, teff flour, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt into a bowl. Stir in the almond meal.
In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, vanilla paste and sugar until fluffy and light in colour.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl.
Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Spread the batter into the prepared cake tin and gently press the plum halves, cut-side up into the batter.
Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. Cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean. (You may have to cover it with foil towards the end if it starts to get too brown.)
Let cool in the tin before removal. Smitten Kitchen recommends leaving overnight to let the plum juice soak in, a grand idea but The Yak needed cake, and it was good.

Go here for original Smitten Kitchen recipe, I warn you, this glorious website is addictive.