Back in October when the ideation process for #12EatsOfChristmas begins, I wanted to make this cake because I had dreamt of something like this. I was obsessing about Arabic halva, or sesame candy back in those days and this cake seemed only fitting. A sticky toffee pudding cake with tahini, drenched in more sesame butterscotch sauce, also with tahini and fresh figs, enrobed in the hot sauce slowly creeping towards the edges of the cake as it’s poured from above.
You can double this cake easily and if doing so, keep in mind that I’ve made this cake in one 9-inch springform pan and you can very easily divide this batter among multiple 8-inch pans (three for the thinnest layers) if doubling the recipe. If doing this, make sure to go for a lovely buttercream to sandwich the thin layers of cake. If you can’t find fresh figs in the market to top the cake, you can do away with them completely, or just go with strawberries. That’s another surprising combo I’m loving these days-strawberries and sesame and I might just work something with the two of them later in the month.
Sticky Toffee Tahini Cake With Tahini Butterscotch Sauce
Yield 1 9-inch cake
This cake is best served warm with a good heaping of the hot sesame butterscotch on top. The figs give some much-needed relief from sweet butterscotch, deep molasses and earthy, sticky dates.
Dates 120g, softened with hot water poured over and left alone for 1/2 hour
Salted Butter 110g, softened
Brown sugar 120g
Caster sugar 50g
Molasses 1 tbsp (Grandma’s molasses is a good brand, but if you can’t find it, opt for a tablespoon of Black Treacle by Lyle)
Vanilla extract 1 tsp or 1 1/2 tsp essence
All-purpose flour 210g
Baking soda 3/4 tsp
Baking powder 1/2 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Tahini Butterscotch Sauce (makes more sauce than you will need, which is great because you’ll want to pour it over your cake)
Brown sugar 225g
Molasses or Black Treacle 1 tbsp
Salt 2-3 pinches
Splash of alcohol optional (preferably Brandy or Rum)
Fresh figs 4-6, sliced lengthwise and grouped over the cake before serving
You want to start by pouring over hot water over your dates and softening them for 30 minutes at least. This is important because it’ll aid the breaking down of the dates for the cake’s final almost-pudding texture. When it’s soft enough, drain the dates and squeeze them with the back of a spoon pressing them down.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 9-inch springform cake tin.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, begin by creaming together the butter, two sugars, molasses and tahini over a medium to medium-high speed. Keep beating this mixture till it is light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down from time to time. Add the eggs in one by one followed by the vanilla extract. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, again over a medium speed. Add the date mixture and beat again. The mixture should look curdled at this stage but that’s alright.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt by hand. Now with the motor of the stand mixer still running over low speed, alternately add the whisked flour mixture and the yoghurt in batches, not all at once. Keep doing this until you have used up both the flour mix and the yoghurt. Stop and see if any streaks of flour are still visible. If they are, finish by hand using a spatula to fold a few times before transferring the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth over the top and pat once before transferring pan to the oven.
Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out with a few wet crumbs still attached. Let the cake cool in its tin for 15 minutes before taking the cake out of its pan and letting it finish cooling on a rack.
For the tahini butterscotch sauce, add the brown sugar, splash of alcohol, tahini, butter and half the cream in a. saucepan and bring it up to a bubble. Add the molasses in and keep stirring this mixture till it reaches the colour of a rich deep deep amber caramel colour. This process should take 2-3 minutes. Once you have achieved this colour, take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining cream. You can keep this sauce warm if you’re ready to cut the cake into slices and serve.
To serve, cut the cakes into slices and top each plate with the hot tahini butterscotch sauce.
Don't fret if you overbaked this cake and had a clean skewer rather than one with a few wet crumbs still attached. The hot hot butterscotch sauce drapes over the cake covering any and all faults!