As we celebrate Mothers Day and give thanks to the beautiful and amazing mums in our lives, it’s only fitting that I dedicate this post to my gorgeous mum and the Orange blossom sesame cake that I baked for her today.
A girlfriend of mine said of my mum, in a message to me the other day, ” Gosh, was there ever a nicer person in the world??”. And she’s right, mum is the nicest person. With her glass-half-full outlook on life, easy-going nature and arms that are always open to welcome anyone that comes into her life – I know she’s taught me to be a better person. But one of the greatest things she’s taught me, was how to cook.
Growing up, nothing ever came out of a jar, can or packet in our house – mum always made everything from scratch. I’d watch her cook everything from family dinners, themed birthday cakes, slices for school lunches, elaborate dinner parties, home-made chocolates for gifts and of course her famous fruit mince pies and Christmas pudding.
The first thing mum ever taught me to cook was Minestrone from the Australian Women’s Weekly Italian Dinner Party cookbook when I was about 9-years-old. I remember being amazed that she rarely needed to look at the recipe book. She taught me that sometimes cooking is about what feels right, looks right, tastes right… you can ad-lib a little when you know what flavors you’re working with. (*This theory doesn’t apply to baking – baking is a science, stick to the recipe!*). I made that minestrone every opportunity I could. Gosh I hate to think how many bowls of vegetable soup my family had to eat.
My love of cooking only grew from there. After a family holiday through Europe when I was 14 – I sent mum off to buy ramicans so we could make creme caramel and dried porcini so we could make mushroom risotto. I was one of those kids that I see in The Essential Ingredient asking their parents to buy them a double boiler so they can make lemon butter.
Mum was my inspiration and enabler in the kitchen. Her best piece of cooking advice to me was, and still is; “If you can read, you can cook”.
So today, I’m making her an Orange blossom sesame cake from one of my new favourite food blogs – My New Roots, by holistic nutritionist and vegetarian chef, Sarah Britton. Mum’s not a fan of anything overly sweet, so this cake seemed perfect with natural sweetness from oranges and coconut palm sugar.
I got to the part in the recipe that said ‘zest and squeeze the oranges’ and realised, I didn’t have any oranges! Luckily the little deli-come-cafe next door to me, Favoloso, had a whole batch of lovely Australian navels that saved me.
Serves: 8-10; Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 40 minutes
2 ¼ cups (320g) light spelt flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup (180 ml) tahini (from unhulled sesame seeds/sesame butter)
1 ¼ cup (300ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1-2 tsp. orange blossom water (optional)
½ cup coconut palm sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup (50g) unhulled sesame seeds
2/3 cup (100g) raw, unsalted, un-dyed pistachios
¼ cup good quality honey
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
– Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high until they are fragrant. Remove from skillet to cool. Follow the same procedure with the pistachio nuts. Set aside
– Prepare a 9” (22cm) spring form baking pan with a little coconut oil. Preheat oven to 175°C
– Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl
– Zest one of the oranges, and juice the rest (4-6 oranges)
– Place the tahini in a large mixing bowl, add the zest and pour in the orange juice while whisking. Add the orange blossom water and sugar, and whisk until smooth (at least one minute). Add in the dry ingredients in thirds, and fold to incorporate. Then add the apple cider vinegar and stir quickly to incorporate (this reacts with the baking soda and puts air into the cake)
– Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds completely covering the batter. Add the remaining batter on top. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan
– While the cake is baking, put all the syrup ingredients together in a small saucepan on the stove. Warm up on very low heat and stir often (do not let it boil). Once the syrup is well combined, remove from heat until ready to use.
– Roughly chop pistachio nuts
– Once you have removed the cake from the pan, slice off the uneven top of the cake so that when you invert it, you’ll have an even bottom
– With the bottom of the cake now facing up, poke several holes in the top with a skewer. Cover the cake top with the pistachio nuts and pour the warm syrup over top. Slice and serve