Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake (Light)

It is not difficult to fall into a “cooking rut.” There is an ease and comfort in making the same, delicious dishes, time and time again. Sometimes, it’s nice to challenge oneself with new, interesting recipes and novel ingredients.


Sofia at Papaya Pieces and I are going through the alphabet, A to Z. Each month, we challenge ourselves (and other!) to prepare a unique and fabulous dish with a new ingredient. February, “S” is for “Sesame.” Sofia prepared a scrumptious, exotic variation of an Indian dessert, A Til Ka Ladoo. I found inspiration in a long ago published recipe for Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake in a treasured magazine.


I dared myself to make the tea cake amazingly tasty – yet healthy and lactose-free. I succeeded! Now, I am basking in (and rapidly consuming!) the results of a great culinary effort. There is such a pride that comes from trying new things.

This nutritious, feel-good tea cake has better texture and flavor than the original recipe. All four taste-testers – Abba (the sweet tooth), Littlest Guy, Snu Magoo and I (Ima!) – devoured it. With deep sincerity, I proclaim that the healthy recipe “makeover” heightens the level of rich, sweet indulgence in the original recipe from Bon Apetit Magazine.


Snu Magoo prefers to eat her black sesame and pear treat sandwich style, with a smidgen of all-fruit raspberry preserves. Ima and Abba lightly toasted theirs with a light spread of whipped Earth Balance.

Complete bliss from an unexpected flavor combination: the lovely union of crisp, sweet pear and earthy, rich black sesame. This recipe takes a bit of love and patience from the cook, but the results are worth the time and tender care.


The recipe uses a powerful, unsubtle punch of sesame in the form of sesame seeds and a paste. My coffee grinder did double duty preparing the sesame paste and almond meal. 
Pear Collage

The almond meal adds a rich, nuttiness to the tea cake that cannot be accomplished with whole grain flour alone. With each bite, I was more pleased by the surreal, light texture and moist, tender crumb.

wet and dry ingredints collage

The tea cakes bakes in a 325•F oven for a shocking amount of time: one hour and forty minutes. I was skeptical of the long baking time and low temperature, but not for long. The loaf emerged from the oven perfectly cooked. Plus, the gorgeous aroma of a decadent, baking cake is a welcome addition to any morning.

rack collageThis month, “S” is for “Sesame.” What will you challenge yourself to make? I can’t help but suggest a Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake or A Til Ka Ladoo.


It’s lovely to pitter-patter and play in the kitchen. Oh, amazing aromas of fantastic foods in the making. It’s the weekend; happy cooking!

~Shanna and the Curls and Carrots Clan



Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake

Adapted from the recipe at Bon Apetit Magazine

1/4 cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance buttery sticks, room temperature, plus additional for greasing the pan
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, room temperature (^1)
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large and one egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. white wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (^2)
1 cup of almond meal or almond flour, store-bought or make your own
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. iodized sea salt, or any fine salt
3/4 cup minus 1 Tbsp. almond milk
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 firm pear, such as Bosc, peeled and grated


  • Mix the almond milk and vinegar in a small bowl and allow to sit at room temperature to form an almond “buttermilk.”
  • Preheat oven to 325•F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with butter or Earth Balance.
  • Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and two tablespoons sesame seeds in a large bowl.
  • Grind the remaining 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a coffee grinder or spice mill until a thick paste is formed, approximately two minutes.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, Greek yogurt and 1 cup of the sugar on medium speed, scraping down the sides a few times with a rubber spatula, until well blended, about two minutes.
  • Add the egg and egg yolk to the bowl. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale, four minutes more.
  • Stir the almond-vinegar mixture well.
  • On low-speed, beat in the flour mixture from the large bowl and the almond “butter milk.” Beat in the flour in three additions, alternating with two additions of the almond “butter milk.” Begin and end with the flour mixture.
  • In the same bowl the flour mixture was whisked, toss the pear with the remaining two tablespoons of flour. Gently fold the pear into the batter.
  • Use a rubber spatula to spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top.
  • Sprinkle the batter with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar.
  • Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about one hour and 40 minutes.
  • Allow the pan to cool for twenty minutes on a wire wrack.
  • Remove to the loaf from pan and cool completely on the wire wrack.
  1. yogurt is a naturally lactose-free food
  2. use a gluten-free, all purpose baking flour blend, if desired


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


80 thoughts on “Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake (Light)

  1. The great baker of Curls and Carrots. 🙂 This looks so moist and delicious; great with a cup of tea. Yum! Snu Magoo is looking so adorable as usual. Great post, Shanna.

  2. Shanna your cake looks amazing, I’m sure all the hard work is paid off by your family enjoying it! We should be neighbours so I could come over and try a piece 😉 Muchos besos amiga!
    PS: I like your new big photos with words 😉

  3. Looks quite yummy. Will try this when the pear trees are overflowing! I haven’t baked with black sesame seeds so that should be fun. I pretty much use them for bread toppings or for seared tuna. Always fun to try something new. Oh yeah, we really are too alike…I just started adding text to my photos to my next post, should I ever find the time to finish it!

  4. First, your black sesame & pear tea cake looks better than the one on Bon Apetit Magazine!Your patience paid off, your cake is a perfection. The combination of the ingredients are amazing. All kinds of tastes and textures com together. I agree, it is a winner! Snu Magoo is edibly gorgeous!

  5. That tea cake must be awesome, soft and moist and full of flavours and textures… All your efforts obviously did pay off.
    I adore your precious Snu Magoo 🙂
    Enjoy your reward and your Sunday, Shanna (so we do here; a beautiful, bright and sunny Sunday!)

    1. Beautiful pictures, Shanna! And what an unusual loaf. It must be quite dense considering the extra long baking time. I will certainly have to give it a try.

  6. It’s funny, I keep reading titles wrong. This, even on FB, I read as poppy seeds. Now I’m going to have to try that combination! Besides, I doubt if I could find black sesame seeds. Isn’t it great when baking turns out so well like this? Shame, then, about my disastrous first attempt at using gram flour earlier this evening!

  7. Wow. I love your idea of going through the alphabet and I totally hear you about a food rut. When you have so much going on it’s easy to fall into your most delicious patterns. Not great if you’re running a blog. This cake sounds delicious. I like your use of greek yogurt in it. Yummy! It’s a must try!

  8. Although I’ve enjoyed sesame seeds before, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten something where they played such a prominent role, Shanna. I must say you’ve piqued my interest. And if that blue-eyed angel of yours likes this tea cake, it’s got to be good. 🙂

  9. Hi Shanna, you sure have immagination in cooking something new! I agree that it’s good to change a bit, sometimes, in food and in life, too! sure we keep our mind busy! I’ll try it, I’m curious! Have a great day, my friend.Hugs – Cris

  10. You certainly can through on this challenge. I’ve only used black sesame seeds as toppings. Do you buy them bulk as I’ve only seems small jars of the seeds?

  11. I must admit, I’ve never used or tasted black sesame seeds. I can only imagine that it tastes very nice. This is a very rich cake, full of proteins, some veggie oils, antioxidants and fruits as well. I’m glad every taste testers highly recommends it. Thanks for sharing, I still have a dozen of things to make from here. I shall be there soon…times are really busy right now and it’s extremely cold over here (it’s annoying and frustrating at times). Enjoy the rest of the week and my best wishes to your family. Best….Liz

      1. I love the new look, the fonts, the logo, the photo arrangement. I wish i had time to do mine too. Have a great weekend! Best…Liz

  12. What a fabulous idea for a tea cake! I love the idea. The flavors and ingredient combinations are so intriguing. I’d love to try this as soon as I can. Also, your little Snu Magoo is so beautiful. Nice she has her own preferred way to enjoy what she likes. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Shanna. What is your letter challenge for March?

    1. Thank you, Martine. I think you and your little one will love this cake, along with your muffin-eating hubby. 🙂 I appreciate your comments – so kind, warm and just lovely. I sent you an email about the letter challenge for March. Best, Shanna

  13. Hi Shanna – what an inspired flavour combination and I love that you have lightened it up too. Snu Magoo is growing up so fast – she looks simply adorable. Looking forward to seeing what you have in mind for “T” next!

    1. Thank you so much, Selma, for your kind and generous words. I hope that you enjoy your day! Oh, and I have started the BBC show Sherlock at the beginning, per your recommendation. It is OUTSTANDING. 🙂 Best wishes, Shanna

      1. I am so thrilled to hear that you are enjoying it Shanna! We just love it. Jake watches it obsessively! I’ve just started House of Cards which is fantastic. I have to ration how many I see in one go – feel like a junkie! Kevin Spacey is brilliant.

  14. am a little bit lost here, so am sorry if I’ve missed multiple posts. This is a lovely cake and your photos make it all the more fun. Yum 🙂

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