Matcha Banana Cake with Black Sesame Brittle

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This cake was for my dad’s birthday, which I remembered just in time. With about an hour left in the day. I was just shocked because I never forget, but I guess October just crept in on me.

It’s hard baking for my parents, because they don’t actually like sweets and desserts. Last year while in Paris, I got some pastries from Pierre Hermé as my “birthday cake”, which I freaked out over the entire time eating it (as you can imagine)– scrutinizing and appreciating every component, every layer, every texture. I was so excited. Then my dad said something along the lines of, “this is good, but I’d rather eat lobster”. Um, excuse you dad, but lobsters are BORN delicious (sorry vegetarians/vegans)… these pastries had to be conceived, developed and refined, sourcing the best ingredients, until perfection was attained. Anyway, my point is, it’s really hard to impress my parents with sweet things.

Despite knowing he’d rather have lobster, I thought that at least I’ll make his cake with familiar flavours– matcha and black sesame.

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Black Sesame Mochi, 2 ways

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I’ve been on a mochi kick recently, if you couldn’t already tell. I’m sort of obsessing over how easy it is to get that chewy, glutinous texture I was so familiar with as a kid. Glutinous rice flour is used to make many asian desserts and dim sum dishes, such as lo mai chijin dui, and ham sui jok…. and Chinese Sticky New Years Rice cakes, etc. etc. etc. I see mochi as the chocolate truffle of the asian world– messy to make, but super tempting to pop in your mouth.

These guys were made just to use up the red bean paste I had leftover from this recipe, and the black sesame flour from making a black sesame banana bread.

This is the first time I’m making real mochi, and the process was… a.) very simple b.) very easy c.) so simple and so easy that I decided one should always make it at home instead of buying it from the bakery. There is no experience like making it fresh, then popping it in your mouth. It’s a lot softer, and you can get your filling-to-mochi ratio exactly how you want it. Win win win.

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Black Sesame No-Churn Ice Cream

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I’ve been seeing variations of this no-churn ice cream around the web since what feels like forever, and maybe it’s the pints of haagen dazs ice cream that keep going on sale (and that I can’t help but snatch up), but I’ve never gotten around to making the stuff myself.

Thinking back, we’ve actually owned quite a few kitchen appliances/unitaskers over the years. I don’t know how that happened, but I guess it’s not too surprising, coming from a foodie family. Sorry I used that word. Had to be done.

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black sesame cake (a story)

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Repetitiveness and discipline are the secrets of cake decorating. The art comes from the meticulous technique, the way it does for a dancer.
Ron Ben-Israel

I laughed the entire time I was making this cake. Laughed at myself.

So I had this vision in my head that I wanted to execute– a small, mini, tall cake with clean layers, and naked frosting. Because for the longest time, I’ve just been in love with the many naked cakes of the world. There’s less frosting (usually overly sweet, and just a nuisance), you have more layers in between your cake layers and show those off, plus it lends itself better to floral decorations, or just minimal decorating.

And I wanted to do it with black sesame, black tahini, and banana, with as little sugar/fat as I can get away with. For a higher flavour and nutritional payoff.

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Stir, stir, stir. Oh, the batter seems a bit too wet. That’s okay, I’ll just bake it a little longer. (Note: I have an irrational fear of over mixing, and over baking). Take it out of the oven– first thing I notice, the 2 cakes are of uneven height. That’s okay, I’ll just trim the taller one once they’re cooled.

I busy myself for a few hours, and now it’s slightly past midnight. I prefer to bake at night, and shoot the next morning. This can only happen on non-busy weekends. I usually don’t get a chance to shoot with natural light on a weekday– I’m up before it’s bright, and back as the sky is dimming.

The cakes have cooled, and I whip out my KitchenAid mixer to beat together my mascarpone frosting. Dad: “you know, if we lived in an apartment, you wouldn’t be able to do this”.

Yes, Dad. I’m lucky we have cool neighbours. I mean, they tolerated twelve years of my piano practicing. Who can be cooler than that? Continue reading →

Steam-baked Black Sesame Milk Rolls

I’m a total carbivore. When my family goes out for dim sum, our must order items are the usual ones– har gow, sew mai, beef cheung fun, egg tarts. We’ve had our fair share of super soft, melt-in-your mouth baked (not steamed) BBQ buns. Soft enough for me to examine its texture and wonder how it was achieved. These rolls were made in pursuit of that melt-in-your mouth quality.
I started off with the hokkaido milk recipe buns, but made a few notable changes to both the ingredients and method. And guys. The results were brilliant.

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