This Black Sesame Cake recipe boasts layers of moist black sesame cake filled with a coconut ermine frosting, crunchy black sesame coconut cookie crumbles and is studded with plenty of black sesame seeds for garnish. Black sesame is a seed with a nutty flavor that pairs well with subtle flavors like vanilla and coconut.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
This is my transitional halloween content. It is subtly dark and vaguely spooky. So really you could make this any time of the year. I also hadn’t done a cake in a while and got the bug to craft one. I adapted my cookie crumbs from the Milk Bar recipe.
I have been really into alternative flavors for cake lately. This started after I made my Corn Layer Cake. But really I have loved an alternative flavor since the start of youthsweets, as evidenced by my Chamomile Strawberry Layer Cake.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This cake has black sesame flavor in every bite.
- The cake layers stay moist for days.
- You’ll love this unique flavor.
- The coconut frosting has a robust coconut flavor.
- All-purpose flour lends a tender crumb to the cake layers.
- Black sesame powder and paste brings a nutty flavor to the cake.
- Baking powder is the leavener which gives the cake lift.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the cake and frosting.
- Vanilla and kosher salt balance the overall flavor profile.
- Coconut milk and coconut extract flavors the frosting.
- Whole milk, vegetable oil and butter add richness.
- Eggs add structure and richness.
- Black sesame seeds garnish the outside of the cake.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and variations
Here’s how to customize this cake to your liking:
- Less dairy — swap the butter in the frosting for dairy-free butter. I have not tried swapping the butter in the cake for dairy-free, so I cannot advise it. Let me know if you do end up trying it!
- Different filling — pipe a ring of frosting around the outside of the middle of the cake and then fill it with a yuzu curd or vanilla pudding.
- Different frosting — use vanilla or cream cheese buttercream instead.
- Garnish ideas — garnish with coconut flakes or tint some of the buttercream with black sesame paste and swipe that on the sides of the cake.
This recipe has not been tested with any substitutions or variations. If you try any, please let me know how it turned out by commenting below!
How to assemble black sesame cake
Step 1: Put a small dollop of the frosting on a serving plate or board. Place the first layer of cake down. Pipe a layer of frosting on top and push cookie crumbs into the frosting. Smooth the top.
Step 2: Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream to create a crumb coat to seal in any crumbs. Freeze 10 minutes to seal the coating.
Step 3: Spread remaining frosting evenly on the cake before scraping down the outside with a bench scraper to smooth.
Step 4: Garnish the sides of the cake with black sesame seeds. Gently press them into the frosting over a clean baking sheet to catch the excess.
- To remove air bubbles from your buttercream, spread the buttercream onto the inner side of a large bowl in a back and forth motion. I like to do this with small bits at a time as it is easier.
- I prefer black sesame seeds that are labeled roasted. My local Asian grocery store had a great selection of black sesame seeds, black sesame powder and paste.
- This cake will stay moist for 3-4 days. You could make the cake ahead of time and just make the frosting fresh, if desired.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Yes, the cookie crumbs are just for a fun textural variation. Omit without issue.
Yes, just use 1 teaspoon more cake flour than what is called for in all-purpose flour.
More recipes you’ll love
Lastly, if you make this Black Sesame Cake recipe be sure to leave a comment or give it a rating. I love to see when people make my recipes, so please tag me @youthsweets on Instagram if you post!
Black Sesame Cake with Coconut Frosting
Black sesame cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (240g)
- ¾ cup black sesame powder (60g)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 1 cup whole milk (8 oz, 238g)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (115g)
- ⅓ cup black sesame paste (100g)
- 3 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 3 teaspoon vegetable oil
Black sesame coconut cookie crumbs (optional)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 1 ½ tablespoon light brown sugar packed (25g)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour (90g)
- ¼ cup black sesame powder (35g)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup coconut flakes (20g)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (40g)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Coconut ermine frosting
- 13.5 oz coconut milk (1 can) full fat
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g, 10.5 oz)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (65g, 2.25 oz)
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter (12 oz, 3 sticks) room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ teaspoon coconut extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 8 oz black sesame seeds roasted
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, black sesame powder, kosher salt and baking powder until thoroughly combined and set aside.
- Crack eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the eggs on medium speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly stream the sugar in.
- When the sugar is completely in, turn the speed to high and beat for 7 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
- Combine the milk, butter and black sesame paste in a saucepan and gently heat and stir until completely melted. Do not let it overheat or simmer. Strain into a medium heatproof bowl, discarding any unmelted black sesame paste. Add the vanilla and oil and whisk to combine. Set aside but do not let it cool off too much (do not do this ahead of time).
- Add the flour mixture in three parts to the egg mixture just mixing until almost combined. If you still see flour, finish mixing by hand by folding the batter with a rubber spatula.
- Remove two large spoonfuls of batter and add it to the milk-butter mixture and whisk to completely combine. This tempers your milk mixture so that it does not cook your egg mixture.
- Pour the milk mixture into the rest of the egg mixture with the beaters running on low. Continue beating just 10-15 seconds more until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Wrap bake even strips around the outsides, if using.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.
Make the cookie crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- In a medium bowl thoroughly whisk together all of the cookie crumb ingredients except the oil and vanilla.
- Add vanilla to the oil and whisk. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and blend together with a rubber spatula until crumbles form.
- Dump this mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Using your fingers and/or a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon make larger crumbs (for the top of the cake) and medium-size crumbs (for the middle of the cake).
- Bake the crumbs for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Make the frosting
- Open the can of coconut milk. Pour into a microwave-safe container. If you see lumps, microwave until melted and smooth.
- Combine flour and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk and cook for about 2 minutes to toast the flour.
- Slowly add the coconut milk, whisking to combine, and turn heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking continuously until it is thick and pudding-like. Once simmering, cook for an additional minute.
- Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with plastic or a silicone baking mat and cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface without any air bubbles in between to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely to room temperature. Ensure the mixture is completely cool, otherwise it will melt the butter.
- Add the room temperature butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on high until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooled flour mixture gradually, by the spoonful, while still beating. Incorporating the mixture slowly ensures a smoother consistency.
- Add vanilla extract, coconut extract and salt, and mix until fully incorporated.
Assemble the cake
- Prepare the cake layers by cutting off any domed parts with a serrated knife that may have developed when baking.
- Put a small dollop of the frosting on a serving plate or board (this will help the cake stick and not slide around). Place the first layer of cake on top. Pipe a layer of frosting on top and smooth with an offset spatula. Push an even layer of the small-to-medium cookie crumbs into the frosting. Smooth the frosting over the top of the crumbs.
- Place the second layer of cake on top. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of the buttercream to create a crumb coat to seal in any crumbs. Freeze for 10 minutes to seal this coating.
- When the crumb coat is set, pipe or dollop more frosting around the outside and on top. Spread evenly with an offset spatula before scraping down the outside with a bench scraper. You may need to do this several times to get a smooth look.
- I found that keeping the bench scraper in a bowl of warm water before using it (drying it off in between) helped remove air bubbles on the outside and made smoothing even easier. If you need a visual on how to frost a cake, check out this video.
- Over a clean baking sheet to catch the excess, press black sesame seeds onto the outside of the cake. Garnish the top outer ring of the cake with the larger cookie crumbs, if desired.