black sesame and chestnut layer cake

a light black sesame and chestnut layer cake –  as simple as possible with sponge cake and whipped cream

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Today we are keeping it simple with only two steps to what is best described as a very fulfilling experience. Step 1 is to find a low traffic hallway – most promising are uppers floors or the dead-ended hallway adnexa. Step 2 is to seat yourself down with your back against the wall and enjoy the wonders of having such an expanse of space to sit (you can cross your legs or even stretch them out if you’re really feeling ambitious) – as well as to pile up the requisite winter combo (i.e. the coat + the mitts + the hat + the scarf + …) that the weather requests you carry with you everywhere. Feel immensely comfortable – until your back begins to ache a bit – because while simple, it is one of life’s finest pleasures.

Somehow, until yesterday, I think it’s been years since I’ve sat on the floor in front of my locker. I keep the instructions general to facilitate sitting on the floor even in situations without lockers, but while secluded hallways are good, it is the locker that is essential for peace of mind. The proximity of the locker gives you a sense of belonging and ownership over the four vinyl floor tiles that you occupy. As inconvenient as it may be for locker neighbours and passer-bys in the case of narrower hallways, you can feel steadfast in your randomly assigned administrative-given right to root yourself in place. (I imagine that even if an adjacent locker is not yours, if you have enough self-confidence to project the possibility that it could be yours to those passing by, that would also suffice).

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In other super simple nostalgic rediscoveries, there is this black sesame and chestnut cake. I made this cake more than a few years ago and like many things, it has dwelled in the draft folder ever since. There is no specific occasion to post now other than that I loved it, as gentle and warmly flavoured cake.

They might be heavier flavours, but it’s a cake of mostly air that certainly doesn’t overwhelm. I don’t make this particular enriched, barely structured sponge cake as often anymore (now I tend towards this one), but as it whips whole eggs and using a good amount of icing sugar it epitomizes a soft, barely structured and light cake, the sort of cake that can’t be paired with anything other than whipped cream.

For perhaps the most fulfilling experience of all, I would say, find yourself a secluded tail end of a hallway, sit down, and eat some cake.

black sesame and chestnut layer cake

  • Servings: One 5 inch or 14cm layer cake which can be cut into 6 small servings
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A 3 layer 5″/14 cm diameter cake. It is a nice size for small servings for 6 people.

black sesame sponge cake

Adapted from this cake recipe that I discovered via Coconut Craze and initially used in this lemon dill roll cake. Makes three 5″/14 cm diameter cakes.  

  • 55 g flour
  • 15 g ground black sesame
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 g icing sugar
  •  3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Have three 5″ (14cm) cake pans at the ready. Butter the cake pans, line each with a parchment circle, and butter the parchment. Dust the buttered pans lightly with flour and tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, black sesame and salt.

Whip the egg until frothy, then whisk in the sugar. Continue to beat until the eggs are very thick and pale and fluffy.

Sift the dry ingredients over top and fold in, then fold in the milk. Scrape into the prepared pans and bake for 10-15 minutes or until browned on the sides and well set on top.

(Note: As I did this with 1 cake pan, I divided the dry ingredient mixture into 3 and then beat each egg on it’s own, making the layers successively, one after the other.)

cream and chestnut filling

  • 250 mL heavy cream
  • vanilla extract
  • sugar
  • 85 g chestnut puree
  • chestnuts
  • black sesame seeds

Whip the cream until it has soft peaks. Whisk in some vanilla extract and a spoonful of sugar (or more to taste).

Beat the chestnut puree until smooth. Stir in a spoonful of the whipped cream to lighten, then fold in 70 g of the whipped cream.

Whip the remaining cream until just barely stiff.

To assemble, place one layer of the cake on a plate. Spread with half the chestnut filling. Top with another cake layer and spread with the remaining chestnut filling. Place the final cake layer on top.

Put a generous dollop of the cream on top of the cake and spread over the top and the sides.

Reserve some of the whipped cream and fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe six rosettes on top of the cake.

Cut 3 chestnuts in half and put half a chestnut on each rosette. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the sides of the cake.

11 thoughts on “black sesame and chestnut layer cake

  1. Hello. I bought roasted chestnuts. How would I make the puréed chestnuts? I was thinking of simmering in some milk, vanilla bean and then pureeing it. Would that work?

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    1. Hi Faye! For this recipe I used canned chestnut puree (here is the brand I use: https://www.amazon.ca/Clement-Faugier-Chestnut-Puree-Ardeche/dp/B00AY4V81W). But it’s a bit tricky to find.

      Your suggested method of making chestnut puree sounds delicious! If you were to try that, after simmering the chestnuts, I would suggest only adding as much milk as needed while pureeing the chestnuts to ensure the puree isn’t runny. The chestnut puree needs to hold its shape as the cake filling is just whipped cream + chestnut puree.

      Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

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    1. Hi Iz, I think this amount of cake batter should be just fine for two 6-inch tins! I calculated the volume of three 5″ pans versus two 6″ pans (assuming the same thickness of cake) and they are pretty similar:
      -Three 5″ = (2.5)^2*3.14*3 pans = ~59 cubic inches
      -Two 6″ = (3)^2*3.14*2 pans = ~56 cubic inches
      You’ll likely just have to watch out for the baking time as the 6″ cakes will be bigger. Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

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      1. Thank you! I also realized I only have sweetened chestnut spread at home. I’m going to try it without using sugar. Thanks again for your reply!

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        1. Good luck Iz! I just had a thought – if your sweetened chestnut spread is like creme de marron, it is likely quite a bit looser than chestnut puree so I think that the filling may not hold its shape very well. Perhaps spread a layer of the chestnut spread on the cake, then followed with a layer of whipped cream? Hope all goes well!

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