Downtown L.A.'s most prolific chef, Josef Centeno, has a new cookbook out: “Bäco: Vivid Recipes From the Heart of Los Angeles.” Since it is a celebration of our beloved city, we'll post a couple of recipes from it. Today, one of Centeno's sweet recipes — he's known for his main courses, but the man knows his way around a pastry station — that's good for breakfast, too.

Blackberry Sesame Cake With Cardamom Sugar

“I use Japanese sesame paste in this cake instead of tahini. I’ve found that it’s often less bitter than many brands of tahini. The nutty, toasty sesame paste is mixed with a little bit of sugar and salt and drizzled on top of the cake along with cardamom-infused sugar. As the cake bakes, the sesame paste and cardamom sugar become crystallized and almost caramel-y, with a nice, almost savory crunch — a good contrast to the moist cake.”


⅛ tsp cardamom seeds
1 cup [200 g] plus 1½ Tbsp sugar
2⅓ cups [280 g] flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup [270 g] plain yogurt
½ cup [120 ml] avocado or vegetable oil
2 cups [340 g] fresh blackberries
¼ cup [35 g] sesame paste

Heat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Line a pain de mie or loaf pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the bottom and sides.

Toast the cardamom seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Grind the seeds to a fine powder in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Mix with 1½ tsp of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt into another bowl. Mix the eggs, yogurt, 1 cup [200 g] sugar, and the oil with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in the blackberries, then transfer the batter into the pan.

Mix the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar, a pinch of salt and the sesame paste in a small bowl until blended; spread the sesame paste mixture all over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the cardamom sugar.

Bake until a knife or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (the internal temperature should be about 205°F [95°C]), about one hour. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then remove from the pan. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. Store, covered in plastic wrap, for up to two days.

LA Weekly