Mouskoutchou a light and spongy Algerian cake.
Traditionally flavoured with citrus zest and/or vanilla. I’ve put my own twist(s) on Mouskoutchou; adding Tahini into the cake batter for a toasted nutty flavour and sprinkling with white sesame seeds for added flavour, texture and visual.
Mouskoutchou has a gentle sweetness and a simple decoration. An easy ‘everyday’ type of cake to serve at breakfast or afternoon qahwa coffee time.
I couldn’t wait until the 10th of next month to share this new cake recipe with you all.
The story of Tahini meets Mouskoutchou
After almost three years longing for the taste of Tahini, I have my hands on a jar. Make that three jars since February. One of which was glass and fell through my butter fingers, after I was over enthusiastically shaking it! Deep breath… Yes I was very frustrated with myself.
Unlike in the Middle East, Tahini is not so popular here in North Africa. Hence, my excitement when I finally laid my hands, or rather spoontomouth on Tahini here in Algeria.
Naturally, first I was indulging in homemade hummus and baba ganoush. Yet It hasn’t taken me long to be inspired to put Tahini into a dessert. AGAIN.
Ever since making Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies five years ago I became obsessed. Including this savoury toasted sesame seed paste into my bakes was at the top of my to-do list. That obsession has now been rekindled.
To tell the truth, I first became obsessed with Tahini in sweet form after tasting Turkish Halwa. I definitely want to home-make that someday.
No one really knows the name meaning of Mouskoutchou, pronounced muskutchoo. One blog mentions it could be related to the Spanish word for sponge cake Bizcocho.
Recipe testing with Tahini
I first made the cake with less tahini and while it came out lighter, I prefer this one with more toasty sesame flavour.
The photos In this post are a mixed bag of those with less tahini and those with more
To Bundt or not to Bundt?
It’s the norm to make Mouskoutchou in a Bundt or Savarin mould for the pretty design. That being said, you can bake it in a regular cake pan or transform it into cupcakes – tested. Again see the notes section in the recipe below.
A few of the photos show my amateur knowledge of Bundt pans, let me explain….
Once I poured the batter into the pan I sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Where is the problems you ask? Well, Once the cake cooks and you turn it out of the pan, that top is now the bottom of the cake. I half rescued this rookie error later on by coating half the surface of the cooled cake with apricot confiture (one child dislikes it). and sprinkling sesame seeds on top.
In my final testing of the recipe, I coated both the pan and surface of the batter with sesame seeds. I like the toasty, crispy and crackely coating of the seeds in contrast to the soft cake inside.
The Algerian Génoise…?
Akin to Génoise sponge cake, making Mouskoutchou involves beating whole eggs together with sugar. Yet that’s where the similarities end.
How does Mouskoutchou differ from Génoise?
- Instead of melted cooled butter gently folded into the batter, oil and my addition Tahini are beaten in.
- The addition of milk in Mouskoutchou for a tender crumb.
- The use of baking powder not only air beaten into the batter, for guaranteed rise = light spongy texture.
Traditional vs. Modern
I’m likely missing a SEO opportunity here by not sharing the classic version of the cake. My go-to for traditional Mouskoutchou can be found here.
The original cake is very easy on the purse strings, using basic ingredients such as white sugar and vegetable oil.
Here I’m keeping the vegetable oil to a minimum and opting for the use of golden sugar also known as, sucre roux ‘brown sugar‘. It’s beautiful, unrefined amber colour and caramel-like flavour goes well in this novel Mouscoutchou.
If you like trying new cake recipes or, have your own obsession with Tahini. This is the cake for you.
Tahini Sesame Seed Mouskoutchou – Algerian Sponge Cake
A modern Middle Eastern twist on a traditional Algerian cake recipe.
For the Cake:
- 180 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla (powder)
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 large egg
- 150 g sugar (golden granulated, or white)
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 100 ml milk (dairy, semi-skimmed)
- 150 ml tahini (stirred well before measuring)
- 1/2 orange (medium, zest of, or 1 medium lemon)
- 40 g sesame seeds (white)
- 1 icing sugar (sieved, optional)
- 1 apricot jam (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 356°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Grease & flour a 7 cup/1.75L Bundt pan, sprinkle half the sesame seeds into the pan. Set aside. Measure all the ingredients and have them in place.
- In a small mixing bowl mix together flour, salt, vanilla (if it’s in powder form) and baking powder. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl add eggs. With an electric whisk beat eggs for 30 secs until light and frothy.
- Add sugar, beat 2 minutes.
- Add oil, beat 30secs.
- Followed by milk, beat 30secs.
- Add tahini & zest to the bowl and beat for 1min more.
- Add flour mixture to the sides of the bowl.
- With a spoon or spatula, partially fold in the flour…
- then continue with the electric mixer until flour is just incorporated – don’t over beat.
- Pour batter into Bundt pan, sprinkle over remaining sesame seeds. Lift pan a short height then drop it back on to work bench – this helps create an even crumb structure with no big air holes.
- Bake in middle of oven for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove mouskoutchou from oven and allow to cool inside pan on a cooling rack for 30mins before removing.
- Once out, decorate with a generous dusting of icing sugar or, a thin coat of apricot jam / runny honey. Enjoy.
For a lighter tahini Mouskoutchou; reduce tahini to 100ml and increase oil to 100ml.
Alternatively the recipe makes approx 15 cupcakes. Bake time approx 12mins.