This is not my first foray into the combination of black sesame and green tea. It is a marriage that will forever be skirting the edges of my mind when planning desserts. As a lover of sweet combinations that border on savoury, black sesame and green tea as individual flavours are wonderful. However, paired together, they become magical.
A light as air chiffon cake seemed like the perfect opportunity to once again showcase black sesame and green tea. The thought that a knife would slice through the russet coloured exterior of the cake to reveal a deliciously dark black sesame centre was too much to resist.
And while the black sesame chiffon worked perfectly, my dreams of swirling the green tea (matcha) powder through the meringue to make a vibrant green topping were dashed. A meringue test batch yielded sub-par greenage, so I resorted to sprinkling green tea powder over the top. Luckily, it made for a rather lovely snapshot and the balance of flavour worked beautifully.
With every intention to torch the vibrant green meringue after it was applied, plans changed to incorporate a half green tea sprinkled/half torched meringue. I could easily have sprinkled the whole meringue topping with green tea and forgone the torching… but let’s face it, if there is meringue in the house, I’m compelled to get out the blow torch. It is simply too. much. fun.
The black sesame reveal was anticipated with trepidation. Sure, it looked dark when the batter went in the chiffon tin, but when it is released from its upside down cooling position and looks russet all over you cross your fingers and hope its still dark inside.
Never fear, all is right with the world. The outside belies a rich sesame interior that is lighter than air. The meringue is a good partner too given the sesame chiffon is not overly sweet. It can certainly handle the robust sweetness of a swiss meringue.
If you are served a slice of either the matcha meringue or torched meringue top I’m sure you’ll be happy. But if by chance the gods deign to give you a slice that is half matcha and half torched then you are certainly lucky indeed (unless, you made the cake and therefore served yourself that slice… luck has nothing to do with it).
Black Sesame and Green Tea Chiffon Cake
Black Sesame Chiffon Cake
- 50g black sesame tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 cup milk
- 340g plain flour
- 230g caster sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 8 egg whites
- 7 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
Green Tea Swiss Meringue
- 140g egg whites*
- 200g caster sugar*
- 2 teaspoons green tea (matcha) powder
BLACK SESAME CHIFFON
Preheat oven to 140° Celsius (280° Fahrenheit).
Combine black sesame tahini and 1/2 cup milk in a heavy saucepan and stir until well combined. Head slowly until just simmering then turn off the heat and leave to cool completely to room temperature.
In a medium bowl sift together flour 1/2 the caster sugar (115g), baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, grapeseed oil, black sesame milk and the remaining milk until smooth. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until smooth and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Continue to whisk while slowly adding the remaining caster sugar in batches until stiff, shiny peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture until completely incorporated, then very gently fold the remaining egg whites through ensuring the mixture is light and foamy.
Transfer to an ungreased chiffon tube pan (if you don't have a chiffon pan, it needs to be a aluminium pan for the light as air chiffon to work - non stick pans will not work) and bake on the lowest oven rack for 70 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Check the cake at 45 minutes, and if it browning too quickly or the top is cracking, cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil sprayed with olive oil (so the top doesn't stick). If it is rising too rapidly, place a baking tray over the top of the aluminium.
Remove cake from oven and invert the pan immediately (aluminium pans will ensure the cake sticks to the pan when it is inverted). Leave it upside down until it has completely cooled, then run a knife around the edge, ease the cake out. If you have a chiffon cake pan, it will have a removable base, so gently remove that too. You can serve as is with fresh whipped cream stirred with a little green tea powder, or you can go one step further and make the swiss meringue topping.
GREEN TEA SWISS MERINGUE
Place a small saucepan with 1 inch of water over high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the temperature to a simmer. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl that will fit over the saucepan of water (without touching) and place it over the saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves completely or the temperature reaches 65°C (150°F).
Pour the egg whites and sugar into a stand mixer, and whisk for 8 minutes until the bowl of the stand mixer has cooled and the mixture has increased in size. Spread over the top of the cake and sprinkle with green tea powder. Alternatively, only sprinkle half the meringue with green tea and torch the other half with a chef's torch.
*With swiss meringue, please weigh your egg whites and sugar as the ratios are integral to the meringue turning out (take it from me). I thought I understood how swiss meringue worked, but it wasn't until I read The Tough Cookie's post on swiss meringue that I truly understood the variables!