Black Sesame Loaf with a Kinako Glaze

_MG_8616 Alessandro and I came back from our trip to Laos and Thailand a few days ago.  We have been back in Rome just long enough to take care of mountains of laundry but are still fighting our jet lag on a daily basis.  The day after we arrived the packing materials for my move to Brussels arrived and thanks to surprisingly decent day-time TV (House MD, Gilmore Girls, Friends re-runs) one of the walls of our living room is now made up of stacks of boxes, some taped shut already, others waiting to be filled.
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I have moved a lot in the last few years and far too many of those moves have been of the international kind.  I love having had the opportunity to live in so many different places and countries but let’s just say that international moves are even more fun (read: stressful) than moving already is.  It inevitably starts with flathunting in a different country and trying to decipher the local real estate lingo – doable but not for the fainthearted, especially when you have to do it in a language you are not yet entirely comfortable with.  Then there is the packing and shipping of all of your stuff which you might not get back in your new place for several weeks – hello take-away dinners and single use plastic crockery while you anxiously wait to know that all your belongings have survived the journey. And then there are the more mundane tasks like setting up a new bank account, navigating the utility provider market, getting contents insurance, health insurance, a new gym membership etc.  All of which is exhausting (like any move) but also exciting.

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Extracting myself from all of this for a couple of weeks for our trip was an excellent decision (even if it means it’s really crunch time now in terms of packing up my stuff and take care of any paperwork related to my move), not least of all for some of the excellent food we ate.  There were meals from the market, snacks from roadside stalls, a few fancy meals in places that made us forget about our heavy backpacks and tired feet, plenty of excellent coffee (who knew Laos had such a great coffee culture?), lots of bubble tea (one of my guilty pleasures) and lots of delicious fresh watermelon, mango and pineapple.

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Now that we are back home our meals are mainly focused on emptying our pantry which doesn’t always result in the most inspiring meals.  I hate to throw away food and as even I think it would be crazy to pay to ship half empty bags of flour around Europe I am trying to use up what I can before the big move.  One of the results of this exercise is this cake.  I am a serious sesame lover, in all its forms – I go through sesame oil like it’s no one’s business, tahini makes its way into salad dressings and yoghurt sauces and both black and white sesame seeds get sprinkled liberally on soups, salads, avocado and even incorporated into granola.  This loaf cake, which includes equal amounts of rice flour and toasted black sesame seeds, is therefore right up my alley (and yours hopefully too).  I have been eating thick slices of it for breakfast, paired with rather large cups of coffee (jet lag is no joke).

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A Black Sesame Loaf with a Kinako Glaze
Note: This cake is made with rice flour so is suitable for those following a gluten-free diet as well.  If avoiding gluten is not important for you, the cake could also be made with all purpose flour or spelt or einkorn (in case of the latter two you might have to whisk 1-2 tablespoons of milk into the batter if it appears very thick).  You can also use white sesame seeds instead of the black ones although it would mean missing out on a gorgeous almost black loaf.  Kinako is roast soybean flour which is commonly used in Japan.  Although often described as tasting ‘beany’ I find its flavour is closest to roasted peanuts which contrasts nicely, both in colour and flavour, with the sweet cake.  And while I have a weak spot for glazed loaf cakes, the glaze is entirely optional.  I should mention this makes quite a small loaf cake which will stay firmly within the walls of a loaf pan – you could always double the ingredients (and increase the baking time to 60 minutes or so) and bake a regular tall loaf cake.

Ingredients

For the black sesame loaf
150g black sesame seeds
150g butter, at room temperature
150g brown sugar
3 eggs
A pinch of salt
150g rice flour or all purpose flour

For the kinako glaze
60g powdered sugar
10g kinako
2-3 tablespoons milk

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and grease a loaf pan with butter or oil.

2. In a dry frying pan toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes).  Set aside to cool.

3. Cream the butter together with the sugar until pale in colour and fluffy (around 5 minutes).  Add the eggs one by one beating well after each addition.  Add the pinch of salt and rice flour and whisk to combine.

4. In a food processor or pestle and mortar roughly grind the sesame seeds.  Fold into the cake batter.

5. Fill the cake batter into the loaf pan, smooth the top and bake for ca. 45-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Carefully remove the loaf cake from the pan and leave to cool completely on a cake rack.

6.  Whisk together the powdered sugar and kinako.  Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until you have a thick but pourable glaze with no lumps.  Pour glaze over the loaf cake – the glaze should set within 1-2 hours.

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14 thoughts on “Black Sesame Loaf with a Kinako Glaze

  1. Hi Sophia,

    I just dicover your lovely food blog and this cake looks amazing!
    I’ll try it one day in my new blog as I like original food.
    Thank you for this.

    Chantal

  2. This looks fabulous, Sophia! Thanks for the recipes (love miso and black sesame in sweets). I was wondering if I could sub black sesame paste (can find it in my local Japanese grocer) instead of the sesame seeds. If so, what would the quantity be? a tablespoon? Two?
    Thanks a million.

    • Thank you Janice! Although I have not tried this recipe with black sesame paste before, I think you probably could use that instead of the ground sesame seeds. I would say replace maybe 1/4th of the butter by weight with the black sesame paste and stir the paste into the melted butter. You can replace the ground black sesame seeds with the brown rice flour or ground almonds (I would opt for the latter so the financiers still have some bite). Once all the ingredients are stirred together the batter should have the same consistency as fairly thick pancake batter – if the batter seems too stiff, stir in 1/2tbsp or so of milk. Let me know how they turn out.

  3. Thanks Sophia. You mean, fold the black sesame paste into the batter, right? there’s no mention of melting the butter in this loaf recipe (rather creaming it with sugar).
    Once I’ve done a test run, I’ll let you know how it turns out. Muchas gracias!

    • Janice – my apologies I had misread your comment as referring to a different recipe. I had another look at the recipe and I would still say replacing 1/4th of the butter by weight with black sesame paste (ca 40g) and thinning down the batter with a little bit of milk if necessar should work. Again, for texture, I would replace the ground sesame seeds with ground almonds or similar (that will also keep the loaf nicely moist and fresh for a few days). The loaf will likely be lighter in colour and if the sesame flavour is not pronounced enough you might want to try replacing half the butter with the black sesame paste.

      • Wonderful, thanks for the detailed notes, Sophia. Also, thanks for all your recipes, they’re delightful.

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