Milk tea-white sesame cake

I was asked to make a super last-minute cake for an order, and that’s how this recipe came out. Literally just because I was told “any flavor but it needs to be done by tomorrow”. So with that in mind, I somehow came up with this recipe. I had a lot of black tea leaves lying around, so I ground them up into a sugar, and folded that into a chiffon cake. I also infused the tea sugar into milk to create a royal milk tea soak. Since I had a ton of roasted white sesame seeds from that time I made simit, I needed to use them up somehow too, and figured, milk tea and sesame should work nicely together. I have seen milk tea paired with almonds in the past, and sesame is not quite different. Toasty and nutty pair nicely with fragrant and floral, and probably my ONE regret as I am typing out this recipe right now is not doing hojicha with white sesame instead, just because that would have been honestly a step better in terms of a cake with warming qualities to it.

For the tea, I used darjeeling tea for that “royal milk tea” flavor, but any black tea works nicely here as well. I went with a chiffon cake as the sponge as it will have a light and fluffy texture, which is perfect for drowning in more milk tea as a soak. For the other components, I did a white sesame mousse, just something light and similar in texture to the cake, but with the nutty almost peanut butter-like flavor of toasted white sesame seeds. I also ground the sesame into a fine powder and made tuiles with them, just for some height and crunch as well! To finish the cake, I did a dusting of tea sugar, made by blitzing the black tea leaves with sugar into a fine powder. The intention was similar to that of a tiramisu, but instead of cocoa powder, tea sugar. As the dessert is far from sweet, the additional sugar is just there to keep everything in the “just sweet enough to be seen as dessert and not breakfast” range of the sugar spectrum. I also sprinkled edible flowers as well on top of the cake, just for pops of color and variety.

For the black tea sugar:
3 bags’ worth of black tea leaves, loose
2/3 cups granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Remove the tea leaves from the tea bags. In a spice grinder or food processor, blend together into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

For the milk tea chiffon cake:
1/2 cup black tea sugar
4 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cups all-purpose flour

In a bowl, whip sugar, egg whites. salt, vanilla, and baking powder to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, and canola oil. Sift into the yolk mixture the flour then fold together with the egg whites to form your batter. Pour the batter onto a lined quarter sheet tray and spread into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the cake to cool down before cutting out 2 6-inch rounds and forming the 3rd using the scraps.

For the milk tea soak:
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp milk tea sugar
a pinch of salt

Bring everything to a simmer and then cool down the soak completely before using.

For the white sesame mousse:
1/3 cup finely ground white sesame seeds
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp gelatin powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff

In a pot, heat up sesame seeds, milk, and gelatin together. Once everything is dissolved, transfer to a blender and carefully blend with the sugar, yolks, and salt until combined. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and stir in the vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool down before fold in the whipped cream to form your mousse.

For the tuiles:
1/4 cup ground white sesame seeds
1 tsp egg white powder
1 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Mix to form your tuile batter. Spread onto either silicone tuile molds(I used the Pavoni feather molds) or parchment in a thin layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes if using the tuile molds or 15 minutes if using just parchment. Curl the tuiles while still warm so that they have some movement and shape to them.

To assemble:
Edible flowers
Tea sugar

Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate and put on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet tray. Place down the scrap layer of cake and then 1/3 of your soak. Spread on 1/3 of the mousse as well. Then repeat with the rest of the cake, soak, and mousse. Freeze for at least 2 hours before attempting to unmold. Dust the top with the remaining tea sugar and garnish with edible flower petals and the tuiles to finish.

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