Makes one 7-inch, 3-layer cake

The brittle is very addictive, reminiscent of the sticky-sweet but satisfyingly crisp Sesame Snaps we ate as kids. Crush a portion of the brittle up into textural crumbs of varying sizes to press into the buttercream layers for even more crunch. Look for toasted black sesame seeds at your local Asian supermarkets, or online with the usual suspects.


Black sesame cake

  • ½ cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup finely ground toasted  black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsalted plant-based butter,  at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Simple vanilla syrup

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Black sesame brittle

  • 1½ cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ¾ cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt

Filling and frosting

Black sesame brittle cake

Make It

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans by spritzing them with vegetable oil and lining with parchment circles cut to size, and then spritzing again with oil to prevent sticking.

In a food processor, combine the toasted sesame seeds, corn syrup and maple syrup and blend into a paste.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, ground black sesame seeds, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, sesame paste and vanilla extract on high speed to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate between adding the flour mixture and the coconut milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until a batter forms (15 to 30 seconds).

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Give the pans a light tap on the counter to reduce any air bubbles. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with only moist crumbs.

Set the pans on top of wire racks and let the cakes cool completely.

In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat the sugar and water, allowing the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to reduce (5 to 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool completely before using. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

For the sesame brittle, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Heat the mixture until it turns a dark amber colour and registers 300°F on a candy thermometer (8 to 10 minutes, depending on your stovetop).

Remove the mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the sesame seeds and salt. Working quickly, pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Allow to harden and cool for about 5 minutes, then add an even, light sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Let cool completely (about 30 minutes) before breaking into fragments and brittle crumbs.

Fill and frost the cake to the final frost stage using the coconut Swiss meringue buttercream. Add the vanilla simple syrup to the cake layers as you build the cake. Crush up some of the brittle into little pieces and then sprinkle it on the coconut buttercream layers, pressing it into the buttercream. Press black sesame brittle fragments onto the sides and top of the cake.


Excerpted from Plantcakes by Lyndsay Sung. Copyright © 2023 Lyndsay Sung. Photographs by Lyndsay Sung. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.