sesame tahini baath cake (Goan coconut cake)


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

Sesame Tahini Baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake |A Brown Table

  • I had a little interview at Food and Wine magazine this week, talking about my blog and food. Please do check it out! 
  • My sweet and wonderful friend Alanna shares some of the fun moments she captured when we made Masala Chai this past weekend. Her photography and recipes are a treat, you won’t be disappointed! 

Sesame Tahini Baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake | A Brown Table

Here’s a little twist to one of my favorite coconut cakes, the Baath, it’s a delicious, rustic Goan coconut cake made with semolina that has a little bit of rose water. I’ve shared a lightened version of the regular Baath cake before but I’ve been aching to make it again and wanted to try something new this time. This version uses nutty tahini and toasty black sesame seeds, imagine all of that nestled in a semolina cake with the light fragrance of rose water and a gentle hint of vanilla. 

Sesame Tahini Baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake | A Brown Table

I cut back on the sugar in this version but you can certainly increase the amount of sugar (as suggested in the recipe instructions below). This cake would be perfect with that cup of masala chai or coffee. 

Here are some of my tips for working with semolina cakes and this cake in particular,

  • The trick to a good moist and soft semolina cake, soak it in the batter for a few hours to overnight and then bake it. 
  • I prefer to store this cake wrapped in the refrigerator (or freeze the excess in airtight bags). I’m always worried that the coconut could get rancid and the cake keeps well. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving. Refrigeration also helps to lock in the aromatic floral scents in this cake.

Sesame Tahini Baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake | A Brown Table

sesame tahini baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake

yields: one 9 inch cake


1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + a little more for greasing a 9 inch circular pan

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (if you like it sweeter, you can go up to 2 cups)

1 tablespoon tahini

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut flavored rum (optional)

1/4 cup rose water

3 cups (1 lb + 1 2/4 ounces) semolina

1 cup (2 3/4 ounces) shredded unsweetened coconut (I used the Bob’s Red Mill brand, I was really pleased with its scent and taste)

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups reduced fat coconut milk 

1/4 cup black sesame seeds 

1. Line the base of springform or regular circular 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides with butter and keep aside until ready to use.

2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment cream until light and fluffy on medium high speed for about 5 minutes. Add the tahini and beat for another minute until combined.

3. Add one egg at a time to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and mix on medium-high speed until completely combined. 

4. Add the vanilla extract and coconut rum (if using). Beat for 30 seconds until completely mixed. 

5. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk, the semolina, coconut, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the black sesame seeds. Pour half of this mixture into the creamed butter-sugar-egg mixture and combine using the paddle attachment. Pour in the rose water and coconut milk. Add the rest of the semolina mixture and combine on medium speed until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula (wet the spatula with a little cold water, to prevent the batter from sticking). Sprinkle the rest of the sesame seeds on the surface of the cake batter. Cover the cake with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight before baking.

6. To bake the cake, place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Remove the cling film and bake for 45-50 minutes turning the cake half way through baking. The cake is done with the top is slightly golden and the center is firm to touch or when a knife or skewer when passed through the center of the cake comes out clean from the center. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes in the cake pan. Run a knife around the edges of the baked cake, remove and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. To store, I recommend refrigerating in an airtight container or freezing the extra (bring to room temperature before serving). 

15 Responses

  1. Oooh Nik, this cake looks like it literally has my dream cake crumb!!! Seriously so much yum. I love how exotic these flavors are to me–I kind of want to take this and make it into a giant layer cake like that one Molly made awhile back…and layer it with a matcha cake, rose cake, and other exotic flavors. Too much? In any case, gorgeous photos as usual and I adored your interview!!

  2. I have since learned that tahini makes a lot of baked goods even better. Can’t wait to try this — you had me at "nutty tahini and toasty black sesame seeds, imagine all of that nestled in a semolina cake with the light fragrance of rose water and a gentle hint of vanilla."

  3. Hi Nik! Everything about this recipe from the title to the simple, yet stunning photos is just lovely. Thanks for the tip about semolina cake- who doesn’t love a sweet treat that you can make ahead of time? I will be dreaming of this with coffee on this particular gloomy day… 🙂

  4. There is absolutely nothing Goan about Tahini. It sounds like a great cake, but that label is misleading.

    1. Hi, I never claimed there was anything Goan about tahini in this post but the Baath itself, is a Goan Coconut Cake. I also wrote about my original Baath cake recipe (and linked back to my previous recipe) and I did mention that the tahini and sesame seed version are my latest twist to it.

  5. I cannot decide if I like your photography or the cake.
    Beautiful use of my favorite ingredients like tahini, semolina, and sesame seeds.

    1. Hi Brad, thanks! Unfortunately, I personally haven’t tried using a gluten-free flour mix or cornmeal to prepare this cake, so I can’t give you answer. I’d suggest trying it out but again I am not sure if it will work.

  6. I fell for the photos and for the name of the cake, but unfortunately i’m not that acquainted with some of the ingredients.
    After some researches on semolina, i discovered that it can be made out of different sort of carbs, including rice. Would "rice semolina" work or is wheat better? (also in that case it could resolve some gluten issues 🙂 )
    Once again thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try t out!

    1. Hi Erin, thank you for the little note. I use the wheat based semolina in this recipe. I haven’t tried the rice one but the rice version is commonly cooked by steaming. I do plan on recipe testing the rice version in a future post for something else and I will keep you posted.

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