Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black Sesame Steamed Cupcake

It's one of those weekends you wake up to the sounds of the rain and traffic. You try hard to re-enter the world of dreams but alas, your mind is filled with messy and scrambled thoughts - like a fuzzy TV with bad reception.

So you start making plans for this precious day.

Will it be a day of chores *gasps*? Or a day in the cafe (specifically St. Ali in South Melbourne) with a favourite book? How about taking the new granny trolley out for a test drive at the food market? Or hop on those tourist bus and explore this new city?

No doubt the decision will set the pace for the whole day....

I wrapped myself up in a blanket and head out to the kitchen to put some water in the kettle. From the window, the wet concrete road seems to be to drying up. It was this moment I caught myself with a selfish thought - I wanted it to pour outside. I want a downpour to be precise. I would like to be stuck at home with a reason like that - and to cook hot chocolate over the stovetop and to make ginger snaps with molasses and watch black and white movies.

But I have no molasses nor ginger!

So I get out a bowl and started whisking together the flour, egg, milk...and ground black sesame powder. I miss this steamed cupcake recipe that I used to make.

I also found some left over sweet red-beans in the fridge and decided that perhaps, they'd make a good match with the black sesame. And they did!

Within 20 minutes, I had several steamed goodies in front of me. Right this moment, everything seems to be falling into place. The piping hot steamed cakes were soft like bread, full of strong black sesame flavours and just plain simple. And sometimes, isn't it usually the simple things in our daily lives that cause us to pause - and feel content and grateful for the moment?

All of a sudden -  I didn't want it to rain anymore. No hot chocolate, thank you.

Quickly pulled my favourite jumper over my head. Rain or shine, Melbourne - here I come!

Steamed Black Sesame Cupcakes
Makes 6 cupcakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 30g sugar (I used brown)
  • 1/4 cup of milk (or yoghurt)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (can use other oil like canola or olive)
  • 60g flour
  • 50g cooked/sweetened red beans (optional)
  • 20g black sesame powder (you can get it from most Asian grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
1. In a bowl, beat the egg lightly then add the sugar and mix well.

2. Then add the milk into the mixture as well as the grapeseed oil. Beat well.

3. Sieve the flour, and baking powder then combine with the black sesame powder. Incorporate into the egg mixture and mix well.

4. Finally incorporate the red-bean into batter and mix gently (or you can keep the red bean separate from the batter and ladle it in between the batter as I did)

5. Ladle the batter into 6 separate cupcake/panna cotta containers which are lined with cupcake liners/muffin cups.

6. In a large pot (or cast iron casseroles), fill it with enough boiling hot water such that when you put the cupcakes in, the water comes about half way on the mould. Steam for around 13-15 minutes with the lid on. I prefer to wrap a cloth/towel on the lid to prevent water droplets dropping onto the cupcakes.

7. Carefully remove from pot as they cupcakes will be steaming hot!


  1. haha the steamed cupcakes have a nice shape! too bad i'm not very fond of black sesame flavour. haha i like the rainy weather (much better than the heat!) but hated the fact that i was out in the rain in the afternoon since i had to run some errands in the city.

  2. grub: yea i think perhaps the black sesame flavour is a bit of an acquired taste? not everyones into it. i *love* black sesame ice-cream :D yea i prefer the cold as well...i was soaked in the arvo too in the city!

  3. That looks so delicious! I love anything containing black sesame ahaa (:

  4. I definitely know what you mean - sometimes I just want a lazy, rainy weekend to stay inside and bake all day! :) Hmm, black sesame cupcakes...they sound intriguing. I've never had black sesame in a dessert but you make them sound delicious.

  5. I have a very distinct addiction to sweet red beans and only wish I could find them more readily here. These cupcakes sound like a combination of so many of my favorite things! They would definitely make everything in MY world fall into place.

  6. hello! came across your blog from this recipe on foodgawker (i can't resist black sesame desserts!), and went back and read many of your past entries. i find your blog beautifully written and very soulful, and your recent entries bring my thoughts back to my first few months in melbourne. i hope you didn't get rained on too much on satday (i certainly did because i unwisely planned a lunch out...) looking forward to reading more about your life and food adventures in our beautiful city :) cheers!

  7. Effie: Thank you! I love anything black sesame it ice-cream, bread, cake etc..

    SteelCityFlan: I guess most ppl prob haven't tried black sesame in their's very much Japanese influenced. Yeah, I totally adore lazy weekends of staying in. I find that refreshing!

    j3sskitch3n: thanks :)

    Joanne: hehe i'm addicted to red beans also. that's why they're always readily available on stand-by in my freezer ;)

    Anonymous: Thank you for your kind words! It really is encouraging to hear that :) Yes i got rained on yst even with an umbrella (it rains sideways it seems in Melb!). So you moved here from elsewhere as well then...I'm sure you def know what I'm goign thru hehe. It's such a beautiful and green city for sure...that's why I'm loving it more everyday :)

  8. I love black sesame! I crave black sesame snow skin mooncakes each year! I'm also a fan of red bean. I've never had or made steamed cupcakes. They sound great, your recipe has been added to my 'to cook' list! Do you ever ice your steamed cupcakes or do you just have them plain?

  9. deb: ive never had black sesame snow skin mooncakes before. sounds interesting! yeah, i prefer steamed cupcakes when im lazy just coz they're easier and faster to make..and healthier too. coz they're of a bread-like/buns texture, i don't add icing/frostings on them. i have them as breakfast type of bread. let me know how yours turn out and if they work with frostings :)

  10. Hi Viv! Love the name of your site. Also love that you were born in Taiwan, raised in NZ and now live in Australia. I was born in Indonesia and I visited NZ a few years ago and absolutely love it. Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll definitely be following yours in the future. :)

  11. Viv,
    which Asian grocery store did you get the sesame powder from? I can't find any of these in Melbourne.
    btw, I quite like the Aus GoodFood Magazine. I think the rceipes in general are quite reliable. Happy to subscribe them in the long run :D

  12. i used to eat black sesame as a kid because I had partial white hair...and it really worked!!

  13. Hi Viv, i found your blog via foodgawker and i love these steamed cupcakes! So wonderful!

  14. Suzy: Thanks :) Yea, NZ is such a beautiful country isn't it?

    Zoe: I got it from Great Eastern Asian grocery store near the intersection between Russell St and Little Bourke St in the CBD. There are a few brands there actually for black sesame! Thanks for letting me know - so many mags out there so always good to get some feedback!

    mr. pineapple man: are you SERIOUS? Growing up, that's what my mum keeps telling me but I didn't believe her (i thought it was just to make me eat those sesames!)

    doryblue: thank you :)

  15. Thanks Viv for your info. I will check out Great Eastern this weekend :D

  16. uve been steaming alot of goodies lately havent u!! looks delicious as always :)

  17. This looks great and cute!!! :)

  18. oh woman why is your photos too awesome?

    i want to make this!! omgosh!

  19. Amazing recipe. I love black sesame: I wonder if you could use the black sesame powdered soup that comes ready-mixed?

  20. Zoe: No worries. Oh, have you also thought about grinding your own black sesame? ;)

    sugarpuffi: yes, coz I'm lazy and steaming is faster :P

    hanushi: thank you! :)

    Julie: thank you dear :) you didnt see how bad the other photos turned out lol. and it helps to cook in the day too esp with the lighting!

    OhLookBel: Soup? I haven't seen those ready-mixed versions before? Most likely they'd be sweetened if you do use them, prob don't need to add extra sugar?

  21. I love your interesting cupcake flavours- this one sounds really really good- I'll have to try this one day! (I love black sesame) And wow- 20 minutes is superfast!! I don't actually mind the rain- especially in summer as it means it's no longer so hot that it's tiring =D

  22. I had a morning just like this over the weekend. Rain, wanted to sleep more, but my racing brain wouldn't let me. These cupcakes are gorgeous. Of course, the red bean/black sesame combo isn't easy to find around here. Perhaps I should do a better job of introducing others to it. I really enjoy it, myself.

  23. Bookmarked this recipe...'cause it sounds divine. And your photography is gorgeous too.

  24. Mmmm. It looks great. I like it because of the chocolate-y fillings. I want to bake this of my mom because she knows how to bake cupcakes and then I’ll just add toppings on top of it.LOL.

  25. My mother would go absolutely nuts for these. Chinese women. They turn their nose up at eclairs but they love, love, love anything sesame.

  26. Sesame steamed cupcake! It sounds really new to me. What does it taste like? I think I should better try one to know that. Thanks that we all have the ingredients in the kitchen. But k=my kids don't love sesame or better hide the sesame ingredients from them. LOL.

  27. I tried your recipe and it turned out great!!! I tried baking them and frying pancakes as well...both were wonderful! I love the combination of red bean and black sesame. :)
    I shared your recipe on my blog...feel free to check it out!

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