Ramadan recipe: aniseed cake with tahini glaze

Throughout the holy month, 'The National' is teaming up with Table Tales to share daily recipes to experiment with at home

Try Maie Jeneidi's recipe for aniseed cake with tahini glaze this Ramadan. Courtesy Maie Jeneidi
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Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike. 

Calling for the seeds and the paste of substantial sesame, this power-packed aniseed cake recipe will enhance your suhoor table with its delectable taste and aroma.

Historically, sesame's hardiness and stamina as a crop were a big part of its popularity in the Middle East. Drought-resistant, it thrived at the height of summer for millennia, when nothing else would grow.

Tahini is an Arabic word whose root means 'to grind', and 'tahin' is the generic term for 'flour'

There are a lot of excellent reasons to eat sesame besides its ubiquity. For one, tahini is rich in magnesium, a mineral that is essential to reduce fatigue, balance the electrolytes essential for hydration, boost muscle and nervous system functioning and maintain healthy teeth and strong bones.

Tahini is also rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory compounds and antibacterial benefits. It is little wonder that it was touted as one of the year’s trendiest foods in 2019.

For those who want to give it a go, home-made tahini requires hulled sesame seeds ground in a food processor with a touch of oil – start with a few tablespoons – until the mixture becomes smooth and silky.

Maie Jeneidi's aniseed cake with tahini glaze

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients for the cake:

  • ½ cup sesame seeds, divided
  • 2 tsp aniseed, whole
  • 240ml milk, heated
  • 210g granulated sugar
  • 240ml oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300g flour, sifted
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp aniseed powder

Method for the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease and flour a 25-centimetre Bundt cake pan. Sprinkle in half the sesame seeds.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the whole aniseed and hot milk; set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and the oil, until blended.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in the vanilla and beat for one to two minutes until fluffy.
  5. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and aniseed powder. Add a third of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix using a hand mixer on a low speed until just combined.
  6. Pour in half of the aniseed-­infused milk and mix until just combined. Repeat this process with the remaining flour and milk. Continue to mix on a low speed until there are no lumps in the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top of the batter.
  8. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes.


Read more:

Ramadan recipe: lentil soup with Swiss chard

A vegan iftar: Plant-based recipes for a four-course Ramadan meal

Ramadan 2021: daytime restaurant opening hours in Abu Dhabi and Dubai


Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 60ml tahini
  • 60ml milk
  • 85g powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Method for the glaze:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Whisk in the tahini and milk, stirring until well blended.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Whisk vigorously to dissolve any lumps.
  5. To serve, flip the cake on to a serving platter and drizzle with the ­tahini glaze while warm.

This dish has been brought to you by Maie Jeneidi (@wizardofyumand curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu DhabiThe Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.