One of my latest cook book purchases is “Molly on the range”. I still know exactly when I started to read Molly’s blog My name is Yeh: When she made caramels in the snow. I mean, how crazy funny is that?! The picture sticks to my mind and in many ways it characterizes her approach to cooking and baking: never too serious, always with fun and lots of sprinkles, not afraid of untraditional ways of preparing or combining ingredients.
I guess, a lot of this experimental, fushion cooking and baking comes from her various cultural influences that lead into an inspiring outburst of culinary creativity. And it seams like this has to be articulated with even more emphasis these days: Different cultural influences are an enrichment! Sometimes they’re challenging, for sure, but they shouldn’t be the source of angst and hate.
Look at this cake: A reinterpretation of the classic coffee cake, but with tahini and Molly’s version of the Yemeni spice blend hawaij. And then all the streusel on top… to put it with Molly: “This coffee cake is heavy on that crumbly shit”! Yes, warm coffee cake and hot coffee (with a dash of hawaij) is a
winter morning November afternoon dream.
Let my explain my appreciation for this book, that will be one of those with splashes of batter and sauce all over the pages, with the following: I finally overcame my aversion against cooking/baking with measuring cups and bought a set. Not that I’m really convinced, for me it’s still a rudimentary kind of measuring ingredients, but for Molly’s sake…
Sesame coffee cake
topping: ¾ cup flour, ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar*, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon hawaij, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
cake batter: 1½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon hawaij, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, 1/3 cup tahini, 1 cup sugar*, 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, ½ cup sour cream
hawaij: ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg,2 tablespoons ground cardamom, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* I used a bit less, adjusting to my European taste buds.
Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F). Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish (or similar shape).
topping: In amedium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and hawaij. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix in the butter until combined and crumbly. Mix in the sesame seeds. Set aside.
cake: In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement, cream together butter, tahini, and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the whole egg and the egg yolk and mix to combine, then beat in the vanilla. Mix in half of the flour mixture, add the sour cream, then mix in the remaining flour mixture.
Scrape the batter into the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes (My cake took about 40 minutes). Serve warm.