Honey and sesame are a perfect pair to welcome in the new year. Customarily eaten at Rosh Hashanah, honey is used to add sweetness to the new year, and sesame seeds are eaten for increased abundance, as their size makes them too numerous to count. Symbolism notwithstanding, honey and sesame are a classic flavor combination.
Sesame seeds are also a favorite ingredient in Israeli desserts and across the Middle East. In Hebrew, this cake is known as oogat soomsoom v’dvash; Syrian Jews have a similar version called ka’ikeh b’ah’sal. This cake is all about the earthy nuttiness of sesame seeds that comes from using both tahini and toasted sesame in the batter. Once it’s baked and cooled, a honey glaze on top adds another layer of sweetness, and it can be drizzled on decoratively for a festive presentation.
This recipe can be made in one bowl without any special equipment, it is pareve (non-dairy) and uses simple ingredients. While this would be a welcome addition to any High Holiday spread, it is also an addictively delicious snacking cake that you’ll want to make year-round.
Note: The cake can be made ahead of time and will last 5-6 days at room temperature, covered or in an airtight container.
For the cake:
- ⅓ cup white sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup oil
- ¼ cup tahini, stirred well
- ¼ cup strong black coffee or black tea, warm or at room temperature
- ¼ cup (60 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
For the glaze:
- 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp black and white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Line and grease a 9” round or square cake pan. (This cake can also be baked in a loaf pan, but the baking time will increase.)
- Add the raw sesame seeds to a dry skillet over medium-high heat; toast the seeds until fragrant and just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove the sesame seeds and transfer them to a dish; reserve and allow them to fully cool before using. You can use pretoasted sesame seeds, but toasting them yourself will give this cake a deeper sesame flavor.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, honey, oil, tahini, strong coffee or tea, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk until smooth.
- Using a mesh sieve or flour sifter, sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the wet ingredients. Mix until everything is just combined, be careful not to overmix the batter. Add the toasted and cooled sesame seeds to the batter, and mix until just evenly incorporated.
- Transfer the batter to your lined and greased cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to fully cool.
- While the cake is cooling, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, honey and water in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, and top with extra sesame seeds if desired.