I baked a 100% rye flour version of Benjamina Ebuehi’s Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake yesterday, and it's everything you want in a cake. It is from her book The New Way to Cake, the chocolate notes are deep, the crumb perfectly moist, and the salted tahini icing? Something I didn't know I needed in my life until now. The tahini rounds out the sweetness of the sugar in the icing. Fragrant sesame notes come to life as you whisk the flavors into balance with a generous pinch of salt. It's so good.
There are a lot of reasons to love The New Way To Cake -- the range of beautiful signature cakes, the minimalist book design, the naturally-lit photos by Holly Wulff Petersen -- but her celebration of flavors close to my heart is what initially attracted me to it - hibiscus, chamomile, citrus, and chocolate all represent in unique and delightful ways.
A Bit More About Benjamina
She's a London-based author, baker, food stylist & recipe developer, and she has been involved in some great projects since her appearance on The Great British Bake Off a few years back. You can follow Benjamina on Instagram. She also works in an ambassadorial capacity with Luminary Bakery (read about them!), and co-founded The Sister Table. And, if her use of tahini is what caught your attention today, have a look at the Necatrine, Tahini & Hazelnut Pavlova, on her blog. Or this Tahini Granola.
The New Way To Cake
Before we jump into the Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake, a few more notes related to The New Way to Cake. The book is 160 pages in length, soft-back, with sixty cake recipes. It has a premium feel, and would make a nice gift for any baker in your life. The main sections are Nuts & Caramel, Spices, Chocolate, Citrus, Floral, and Fruit. The two recipes I've earmarked to bake next: Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes, and then a Chocolate Guinness Bundt with Yogurt Glaze.
Benjamina's Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake
The two main components here are a coffee-bolstered, cocoa-based chocolate cake, and the salted tahini icing/frosting. You can make either component a day ahead of time if needed. Although, I should note that, generally speaking, I like to frost cakes the day of serving. Up to that point, keep the cake covered (after cooling completely) and, if needed, rewhip the icing before using.
A Rye Flour Swap
I made a few alterations to Benjamina's cake out of necessity (different pan / alternate flour) & the good news is it baked up wonderfully. All-purpose flour can still tough to come by right now, and I keep a lot of rye flour on hand. I had a hunch that a rye flour swap would be good here - so I went for it. 100% rye. Didn't hold back. So good! I think people worry that going an aggressive whole-grain flour swap will result in tough, dry cakes and muffins. And quite honestly, that can often be the case. But this worked nicely - have a look at the slice down below! So tender. If you're apprehensive, go with all-purpose flour, or you can do half rye, half all-purpose flour. But there's something that happens in the intersection of the rye, coffee, and cocoa, that is really nice.
Let's Talk Pans
Per my mention up above - I didn't have the three 6-inch cake pans Benjamina used to create the stunner cake pictured in her book (above). But you all know I have an endless collection of bundt pans. So that's what I used. I baked the batter in a single 9-inch bundt pan. Buttercream wasn't going to work with the ridged cake, so I did a salted tahini icing that I could pour over the bundt shape cake, in place of the tahini buttercream version in the book. No bundt pan? My sense is you can get away with baking in a single 13x9 pan, or two 8-inch rounds as well (adjusting the timing, of course). A long way of saying, don't be deterred if you don't have the "correct" pan. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
And a last little side note - I've been trying to add weekly favorites links to my newsletter more regularly - articles, books, cookbooks I'm excited about, recipes to try, products I love, or new discoveries in general. So, instead of including them here in "Favorites Lists" on the site, you'll be able to get them there, along with the heads up on new recipes I'm highlighting. I've been sending newsletters out once a week, on Saturday mornings. xx -h.
Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake
I didn't have the three 6-inch cake pans Benjamina used to create the cake pictured in her book (above). But you all know I have an endless collection of bundt pans. So that's what I used. I baked the batter in a single 9-inch / 8 cup quantity bundt pan. My sense is you can get away with baking in a single 13x9 pan, or two 8-inch rounds as well (adjusting the timing, of course). A long way of saying, don't be deterred if you don't have the "correct" pan. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. That said, if you have an oven that runs hot, keep an eye on things. It's better to underbake this cake a shade rather than over bake - because of the whole grain aspect its more likely to end up dry.
- 2 1/4 cups / 270 g rye flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups / 300 g granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 65 g cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon / 8g baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon / 7 g baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
- 2 eggs
- Scant 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup / 80 g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
- 2/3 cup / 160 ml hot coffee
- 2 cups / 225 g confectioners’ powdered sugar
- 1/8 + teaspoon fine grain salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk, milk, or oat milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C with a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9-inch / 8-cup bundt pan, or equivalent*. See head note.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix in the melted butter. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until uniform. Add the coffee and stir until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave the cake to rest for ten minutes, and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and tahini. Add 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk, and stir until smooth and thick. Add another tablespoon, or so, if needed to get the icing to a consistency you like - not so thick that it won’t spread down the cake, or so thin it runs right off. Somewhere between.
When the cake has cooled completely, slowly pour the icing over the cake, and allow it to set for ten minutes or so. If you have the cake on a cooling rack, set over a rimmed baking sheet, you can avoid any mess.
Makes 1 9-inch cake.