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Sometimes you see a picture in a cookbook, and you know right then you have to make it. So the top picture here is from The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan. She started life in India but ended up a finalist on cooking shows in England. She always loved baking and she grew up with spices seemingly in every meal. Her parents had a lime bush in their garden, and she remembers waiting, perhaps impatiently, for the limes to ripen so she could make lime water.

Now, her citrus creations are a tad more complex. This cake is quite unusual. The texture is dense and the notes of sesame seeds cannot be missed. It’s a very “Asian” dessert experience. I suppose this is one time when dessert should definitely come with tea and not coffee.

Black Sesame and Lime Cake

Yield: serves 8-10


For the cake:

  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 5 ½ ounces caster sugar
  • 5 ½ ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 5 ½ ounces self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

For the icing and decoration:

  • 3 ½ ounces icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Black sesame seeds for sprinkling
  • Fine strips of lime rind for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Grease a 900g (21b) loaf tin and line it with nonstick baking paper.

In a small pan, dry-roast the sesame seeds for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Transfer to a mortar and crush them lightly with the pestle. Set aside.

Combine the remaining cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with an electric whisk for 2 minutes until the batter is light and creamy.

Add the crushed sesame seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with the lime juice and zest to produce a runny paste. Spoon this mixture over the cake, then sprinkle some sesame seeds and lime rind strips on top to finish. This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Source: The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan [Mitchell Beazley, 2016]