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Bomb Cyclone Black Sesame Cake

yield: 1 three-layer, 8-inch cake
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Special Equipment

  • A food processor

Ingredients

For the Black Sesame Sugar

  • 1 cup (5.25 ounces) black sesame seeds
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar, divided into two 1 cup portions

For the Black Sesame Layer Cake

  • 1 recipe Black Sesame Sugar, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) cake flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/3 cups (10.65 fluid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature and divided into 1 cup and 1/3 cup portions
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the American Buttercream

  • 2 cups (4 sticks // 16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar

For Decorating

  • black food coloring
  • navy blue food coloring
  • edible gold leaf

Instructions

For the Black Sesame Sugar

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 (F). Spread 1 cup black sesame seeds evenly across a parchment lined sheet pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and use a rubber spatula to stir and toss the seeds every 5 minutes, baking for a total of 15 minutes. Towards the end of the bake time, the seeds will start to lighten and steam and smoke gently. Rub a seed between your fingers — the seed should shatter and crush easily into smaller grains, emitting a nutty and fragrant smell. Once this happens, immediately remove the pan from the oven and transfer the seeds to a plate on a wire rack to prevent any further cooking. Cool to room temperature.
  • Once the seeds have completely cooled, divide into two even batches. Pour the first batch into the bowl of a food processor and combine with 1 cup granulated sugar. Pulse for about 20 seconds until finely ground, and the seeds have evenly distributed throughout the sugar. The mixture should be light gray in color and resemble super-fine cornmeal in texture. Be careful not to overprocess, or you'll end up with sesame butter! 20 seconds should do the trick. Repeat with the remaining batch of sesame seeds and the other remaining 1 cup granulated sugar. Combine the two batches of sesame sugar into the same airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The mixture will keep for up to 1 month.

For the Black Sesame Layer Cake

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle; spray the parchment paper as well and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine Black Sesame Sugar, 3 cups cake flour, 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat on low speed until combined. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add 1 cup cubed unsalted butter slowly into the mixture, only adding a few pieces at a time and continuing to mix until the mixture has the texture of cornmeal. Add 1 cup of milk all at once and raise the mixer speed to medium. Beat for 2 minutes, or until the batter is light and fluffy. While the batter is mixing, whisk together 5 large egg whites, the remaining 1/3 cup milk, and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract in a large liquid measuring cup or a medium bowl with a spout. Reduce the mixer speed back down to its lowest setting and add the egg white/milk/vanilla mixture in 2 to 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition and beating only until combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with few crumbs and the top of each cake bounces back when gently poked. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the American Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 2 cups unsalted butter on medium until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and add 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix on low until combined and then beat on medium for 1 minute. Keep the mixer on low and slowly add 3 cups confectioners' sugar a little at a time, mixing until combined, and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 6 to 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Use immediately.