The Washington Post

Simple Sesame Cake

Simple Sesame Cake 8.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dec 15, 2020

This loaf cake is rich with the nutty flavor of sesame thanks to whole seeds that line the pan and creamy tahini that’s stirred into the batter. Using a mix of black and white sesame seeds makes an especially beautiful cake, but if you only have white sesame seeds, use those. This cake can also be made in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan; bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve it plain, with whipped cream and berries, or with drizzles of tahini and honey and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Where to Buy: Black and white sesame seeds can be found in supermarkets, spice shops or online.

8 - 12

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-12 servings; makes 1 9-by-5-inch loaf cake

  • Unsalted butter or nonstick spray, for coating the pan
  • 6 tablespoons (50 grams) sesame seeds (white, black or mixed), divided
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) well-stirred tahini
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously butter or coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper that's the length of the loaf pan and about three times its width. Spray or oil the pan, then press in the parchment paper so that there's overhang on the two long sides. It should not cover the two short sides. The overhang will make it easy to lift the cake out of the pan once it’s baked.

Butter or coat the parchment paper and the exposed pan sides with nonstick spray, then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup (150 grams) of sugar and the egg until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the milk, tahini, oil, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, the baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds on top of the cake.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden, and a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes. Use the parchment overhang to lift the cake out of the pan and let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Snacking Cakes” by Yossy Arefi (Clarkson Potter, 2020).

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Avg. Rating (18)

Rate this recipe

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 12): 234

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 13g 20%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 17mg 6%

Sodium: 164mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates: 27g 9%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 13g

Protein: 5g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle