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.
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.
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).
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.
For the black sesame loaf
150g black sesame seeds, roasted*
150g butter, at room temperature
150g brown sugar
A pinch of salt
150g rice flour or all purpose flour
* Some health food stores also sell raw black sesame seeds. If that is what you have, simply roast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan on medium heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Set aside to cool to room temperature.
For the kinako glaze
60g powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and grease a loaf pan with butter or oil.
2. 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.
3. In a food processor or pestle and mortar roughly grind the sesame seeds. Fold into the cake batter.
4. 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.
5. 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.