Black Sesame Crumb Cake

This decadent Black Sesame Crumb Cake is like no other.  The black sesame seeds add a subtle kick to the overall flavor.  The Crème Fraiche adds a delightful rich quality.  There is no shortage of crumb topping and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  It goes perfectly alongside a cup of tea, coffee or even a glass of wine.

Black Sesame Crumb Cake Valentine’s day is right around the corner, so I decided to create this decadent black sesame crumb cake as a special treat to celebrate the holiday of love.

Robby and I were married about 2 years ago on March 18th, 2015.  Something you may not know is that Robby and I both grew up in Santa Monica and met through mutual friends when we were teenagers.  He was in a punk rock band with my first boyfriend. At the time there were around ten of us that would hang out together and go to punk rock and reggae shows.

Black Sesame Crumb Cake After my first boyfriend and I broke up, I didn’t hang out with them anymore and ended up moving to Maui, then on to Oregon.  A few years later, Robby had moved to Boston.  Many years would pass until Robby and I would see each other again.  In 2007 I moved back to Venice and a year later Robby moved back as well.  We hadn’t seen each other since we were teenagers yet it seemed like no time had passed.  You can read about how we ended up together in this post.

Black Sesame Crumb Cake Of course, there were a lot of things that we originally didn’t know about each other and have discovered since we have been reconnected.  One of the things we discovered was that we both went to the same elementary school and that we were both obsessed with Hostess crumb cakes, so I thought I would come up a healthier version that we could both enjoy for Valentine’s day.   I replaced white cane sugar with coconut sugar due to Robby’s cane sugar allergy and I used wheat free flours because of my wheat allergy.  It was a tough recipe to nail down but I finally did it!

Black Sesame Crumb Cake Five attempts later, I had my recipe dialed in and it turned out phenomenal and quite addicting.  My favorite way to serve this crumb cake is with cream but it is also insane with ice cream or whipped cream.

Black Sesame Crumb Cake Black Sesame Crumb Cake Recipe:

8 to 12 servings

Crumb Topping
  • 1 1/4 Cups Coconut Sugar – packed
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Millet Flour
  • 3/4 Cup White Rice Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Black Sesame Seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Cake
Dry Ingredients
  • 3/4 Cup White Rice Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Millet Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Black Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Tapioca Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 Chia Eggs – 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds whisked with 5 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks) Butter – room temperature
  • 1 1/3 Cups Coconut Sugar
  • 4oz. (1/2 Cup) Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Instructions:
To start

Grease your 9 1/2 inch springform pan with butter then line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sesame Seeds/Chia Seeds
Add the seeds to the bowl of a food processor or coffee grinder. Pulse the seeds in a food processor until finely ground.  Set aside.  Do the same with the chia seeds.
Crumb Topping

in a small sauce-pan, melt the butter on medium-low.  While butter is melting, in a medium bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, sesame seeds,  and salt.  When the butter is melted add it to the flour and toss with a fork until moist clumps form. Set aside.

 Cake
In a large bowl, add the flours, sesame powder, tapioca flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together really well.  Set aside.
*
  In a small bowl, add the 5 tablespoons of water and quickly whisk in the 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds until it becomes gelatinous and then set aside.
*
In a food processor, cream the butter and sugar together well and then add the apple cider vinegar and vanilla.  Add the chia egg to the butter and pulse until just incorporated.  Next, add the creme fraiche and mix in.  Add the flour in two stages and roughly mix then dump into the large bowl that the flour was in and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands.
*
Add half of the cake batter into the prepared springform pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the crumb topping evenly on top of the batter then plop spoonfuls of batter around the top of the crumbs and very carefully spread the batter over the crumbs.  You need a little bit of patience but don’t worry it will come together.
*
Put the cake onto a cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven on the middle rack in the middle of the oven.  Bake for 60 minutes.  Carefully remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour but it is best to let it cool completely. The cake will still be cooking as it cools.
 *

Black Sesame Crumb Cake

Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart with a Almond Oat Crust

This Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart is rich, decadent and oh so good!

This tart was born out of ingredients that were in my fridge just waiting to be made into something delicious.  I made this just after Beto and clan had stayed with us a few weeks back.  I had planned on making them my roasted fennel buckwheat tart but we decided to go out for dinner instead.  I had also planned on roasting red peppers for our beach picnic but I forgot to.  So, with the unused fennel, red peppers along with a tomato Jill happen to leave behind, I came up with this tart.  I guess you can say it’s a Mediterranean style tart.  It’s best served with a green salad and a crisp glass of wine.

3U9A7654 There is so much craziness going on in the world as of late and I normally pride myself on being able to block it out.  But sometimes it can be difficult when something happens in a place where I spent time in or where a friend is from.  I was fortunate enough to visit Turkey with my friend Maggie a number of years ago.  Maggie and I were traveling in Europe at the time and she had asked me if I wanted to go to Turkey with her.  At the time I really knew nothing about Turkey, but I eagerly said yes!  Our plan was to meet up with her relatives that were living on an American/Turkish air force base in Adana.

We flew from London to Dalaman and then caught a bus to Fethiye where we stayed the night.  Fethiye was right on the ocean and it was so incredibly beautiful!  We found a cheap hotel to stay in and the manager told us about a wonderful local place to eat.  It was an outside restaurant run by a local family.  We had some great food and a night of classic Turkish music and dancing.

The next day, we took a bus along the coast to our final destination.  It was a twenty hour long bus ride, which normally would take 11 hours by car.  The bus ride wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for a 17 year old bus steward that apparently had it in for us.  There were maybe two other women on the bus and the rest were men.  Almost everyone was smoking, so Maggie asked the steward if he could open the vents on the roof of the bus.  They were barely open and we hoped that he would open them more since the windows on the sides of the bus could not be opened.  Instead, he closed the vents completely and gave us a look like too bad for you!  I had also put my feet on a metal box that was in front of our seats and he came over and shoved my feet off.  Maggie and I both looked at each other and then started to talk back to him.  Thank goodness there was a really nice man sitting behind us who had told the steward to leave us alone and he did.

3U9A7663 We finally arrived at Maggie’s aunt’s house and were enthusiastically greeted by Maggie’s cute little cousins.  The next day, Maggie’s aunt took us to a local restaurant that had some of the best food I have ever had. The meal consisted of small bowls filled with different salads, soups, rice, vegetables and sauces with a giant piece of flat bread.  I had no idea what Turkish food was like before my visit but I will tell you that I was in heaven with all the great vegetarian options!  After lunch, Maggie’s aunt took us to the cute town near Karatepe.   We saw women weaving rugs in a shop’s showroom and decided to take a look.  Unfortunately, we didn’t buy any rugs.  We also found another shop with a large assortment of beautiful scarves.  Maggie and I both bought a bunch.   We bought scarves made of crepe with lace stitched on the edges but my favorite ones were gauze scarves that had seed bead flowers dangling off the edges.  Of course, I bought one in every color.  Aside from the 17-year-old, everyone one we met was extremely nice and helpful, the food was out of this world and the countryside was insanely gorgeous!  I would love to spend more time there and I will be praying for peace, love and understanding!

Also, my friend Aysegul from the amazing blog Foolproof Living is from Turkey.  While I have never met Aysegul in person, we have been getting to know each other through social media.  She has been a great inspiration and very helpful to me.  Luckily, Aysegul’s family and friends are ok but it’s scary nonetheless.

3U9A7548 This Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart pairs great with a Cava or a Txakoli.

3U9A7679 Roasted Red Pepper Fennel Tart Recipe:
6 to 8 servings
  • 1 Recipe Toasted Almond Oat Crust – recipe below
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers – roasted
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – cored – cut halves in half – thinly slice
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 3/4 Cups manchego – shredded – divided
  • 1 Cup Pecorino – shredded
  • 8 oz. Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Large Tomato – thinly sliced
Garnish options:
  • Fresh Basil
  • Edible Flowers
Tart Dough
  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds – ground
  • 1 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Chia Seeds – ground
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 5 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Ice Water or until it sticks together (don’t over do it)
 Instructions:
Dough
*
Grind the almonds in the food processor then add flour, ground chia and salt.  Pulse several times to combine.
Add the butter in 1/4 inch piece.
 Pulse a few times to break up the butter evenly, then add ice water slowly as you pulse, until it resembles a coarse meal with tiny pieces of butter.  It will be crumbly but holds together when squeezed with your fingers, do not over process.
Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thick and transfer to a tart pan.  Press into the edges and up the sides of the tart pan.  Poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
*
Roasted peppers
*
Roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.  Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.
 Slice in half and remove the seeds and stems.  Cut the tops and bottoms off of the peppers.  Thinly slice a pepper to create a lattice. (this part is optional, you can dice them all up if you want) Create the lattice on an extra plate so you know how much you will need then dice up any remaining piece and the remaining pepper.  Set aside.
*
Fennel
 *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut the fennel in half and cut out the core.  Cut each half horizontally into 1/4 -inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Toss to evenly coat.  Roast for 15 – 20 minutes or until soft and golden.  Set aside.
*
Onions and cream sauce
*
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and salt.  Saute until the garlic just starts to become golden.  Add the onions to a medium sized bowl and mix together with the roasted fennel.  Set aside.
Add the creme fraiche with the one cup Manchego, pecorino and salt to a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until cheese is melted, stirring frequently.  Set aside.
*
Assemble
*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bake the tart crust on the middle rack for 10 minutes with pie weights or beans and then 15 min without the weights.
 Slice the tomatoes and push out any seeds with your finger to remove as much water content.  Set aside.
Sprinkle half of the reserved manchego evenly over the warm tart crust.  Spread out the fennel mix, sprinkle on the diced red peppers and arrange tomatoes in a single layer.  Spread the creme fraiche mix over the tomatoes and then carefully create the lattice with the strips of bell peppers.  Sprinkle on the remaining Manchego.
Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.
*
3U9A7745 Health benefits:

Bell Peppers are extremely high in vitamin A, which helps to support healthy eyesight especially night vision.  It is also very high in vitamin C, which is really important for the skin.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.  Red peppers are one of the veggies highest in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, that are great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas.

Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood.  The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation.  It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration.  There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain.  The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Persimmon Rose Shortbread Crumb Bars

These Persimmon Rose Shortbread Bars are absolutely out of this world!

The shortbread has the perfect amount of sweetness, the persimmon rose jam adds a subtle twist and the crumb topping is the maestro conducting all the flavors in this wonderful symphony.  And for the grand finale, top it off with a dash of powdered rose!

Persimmon Rose Shortbread Crumb Bars

It is now less than a week away from Christmas and I’m scrambling to get my shopping done, finish my posts, bake Christmas cookies and get ready to travel to L.A.  We plan to stay for two nights in Santa Monica.

Persimmon-Rose-Shortbread-Bars

The first night I have a date with my beautiful friend Janelle and I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with her! Wednesday evening, Robby and I will meet a few of our closest friends for dinner.  I am so excited because we are going to our good friend Josiah’s brand new restaurant called Charcoal in Venice.

Josiah and our friend Raphael opened a successful restaurant named Jiraffe in Santa Monica many years ago then Josiah went on to open his own successful two Michelin star French restaurant named Malisse, while Raphael continued on at Jiraffe.  Raphael recently closed Jiraffe and will be opening a new restaurant in the same space but with more of a light-hearted cuisine compared to the high-end French cuisine he served prior.  I am waiting in anticipation to see his new venture.

We plan to spend our last two nights with my dad and stepmom for Christmas.  My dad is so excited we can make it this year and nothing makes me happier than that!

Persimmon-Shortbread-Crumb-Bars

Enjoy these beauties with some milk, coffee or tea.

Persimmon-Shortbread-Bars

Persimmon Rose Shortbread Bars Recipe:

12 Bars

Crumble
  • 1 Cup Raw Walnuts – coarsely ground
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Oats – ground
  • 1/3 Cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Powdered Cardamom
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter – salted or Coconut Oil
Shortbread
  • 2 Sticks Salted Butter or 1 Cup Coconut Oil – room temperature
  • 2 1/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar (I used beet sugar)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
Persimmon Jam
  • 1 1/2 Pounds or 3 1/2 Cups Persimmon – peeled – pureed
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar (I used beet sugar) – or to taste
  • 2 Teaspoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Rose Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
  • Pinch Salt
Rose Powder – optional
  • 1/4 Cup Rose Petals – I recommend organic

Instructions:

Crumble
In a food processor, grind the walnuts to a fine crumb texture and pour into a large bowl.  Add the oats to the processor and pulse until the texture is in between whole oat and flour texture then add to walnuts.
Add the flour, sugar, coriander and salt then mix well.  Add 1/4 pieces of butter and mix everything with your hands until it is a crumbly consistency.
Put in the refrigerator while you make the shortbread so the butter can harded.
Shortbread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make sure the butter is at room temperature.  Cream butter, sugar and pinch of salt in food processor or mixer until creamy then add flour and pulse until it’s mixed well.

Pour out mixture into a 9″ by 14″ baking dish and press the dough evenly around.  Poke holes all over with a fork to prevent bubbles.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are golden.

Jam
While the shortbread is baking start the jam.
In a large saucepan, bring persimmon puree, sugar and lemon juice to a boil on medium high then turn to medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
Lower heat and simmer for 15 – 25 minutes until persimmons are dissolved and reduced.
In a small bowl, combine arrowroot powder and rose water together.
Add arrowroot/rosewater mix stirring continuously until well incorporated
Remove from heat.  Set aside
Rose powder
If using whole dried roses, remove the petals, measure and grind in a coffee grinder until it becomes a fine powder.
Assemble

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread the jam evenly over the baked shortbread and then evenly sprinkle with the crumble, lightly press down and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Cool completely before cutting and removing from the pan.  Sprinkle with rose powder.

Persimmon-Bars