Saffron and Cardamom Layer Cake with A Toasted Sesame Crust + a Milky Tea Buttercream

If you have been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that my younger sister recently gave birth to her first child, Harry. Needless to say, I thought he was the most adorable sight in the world as he lay there in his mother’s arms, deep in slumber. To commemorate the occasion I decided to bake a cake (simply because there cannot be a celebration without one). Here I have my own version of Gers Ogaily, an old-fashioned, traditional Kuwaiti sponge cake, spiced, or should I say perfumed, with saffron, rosewater and cardamom, and encrusted with sesame seeds.  I’ve added some citrus to the batter to provide some freshness to the heavy spiciness of the cake, and I smothered the cake with a buttercream inspired by the drink that this dessert is usually accompanied with. The cake itself is a daffodil yellow, from the dye of the saffron and is (at least I like to think so) very Spring-like in nature.

Faye, since we live some 5 hours away from each other (7-8 hours when I’m driving) I hope this cyber cake will put a smile on your face. I cannot even imagine what the whole ordeal was like, but I want you to know I’m very proud of you.

Happy Easter Monday!

Saffron and Cardamom Spice Cake with Toasted Sesame

Cooking time: 1 hour, plus cooling time
Makes: 1 layered 8inch cake

Feel free to decorate with pistachios. It is usually eaten with sweetened black tea (chai), or milky tea (chai haleeb). If you do not have ghee, just simply use butter. Traditionally, it is eaten as a sheet cake, however, if you wish to create a six-layered cake, simply triple the recipe and cut each layer in half lengthways.


4 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
1cup caster sugar
3/4cup plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp saffron
2tbsp cornstarch
2tbsp rosewater
4tbsp whole milk
1tsp cardamom, ground
3/4cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 mandarin, zest and juice (optional)
600ml heavy cream, for filling
1tbsp ghee, for greasing

The day  before (or a couple of days before- the longer the infusion, the stronger the flavour), ground the saffron into a powder with a mortar and pestle before adding to the rosewater. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-assisted) or 350ºF. Add the milk to the infusion and stir. Melt the ghee in a pan and use to grease the cake tin. Scatter 1/2 cup of the sesame seeds around the inner edge of the tin evenly and set aside.

Sieve all the dry ingredients into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the whole eggs with the sugar for 15 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time to the bowl whilst whisking. Pour the saffron-rosewater and the milk into the eggs along with the mandarin juice and zest, and stir to evenly distribute the colour. Add the dry mixture (flour, starch and baking powder) slowly into the egg mixture (do not over-mix) and then pour into the cake tin.Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds before placing in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Can be eaten immediately as is. However, if you wish to make a layer cake, allow the cake to cool completely and repeat the recipe two times before whipping the heavy cream and spreading this between layers and decorating with the buttercream. Eat within two days.

Milky Tea Buttercream

Cooking time: 15 minutes, plus overnight
Makes: approximately 3-4 cups


2cups butter
5tbsp loose black tea
2tsp dried milk powder
1/3cup whole milk
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
3-4 cup confectionary sugar

The night before you make the cake, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once completely melted, allow to start bubbling and pour in the black tea, cardamom and dried milk powder. Stir (so that the milk powder is melted into the butter), place a lid on the saucepan and allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Pour the butter through a sieve into a clean bowl, catching the cardamom pods and black tea leaves (don’t worry if a number of tea leaves remain in the butter, they are edible) and place in the refrigerator to cool and solidify overnight. In the morning, when you begin preparations for the cake, simply take out the butter and allow to come to room temperature until needed (I usually make the buttercream whilst the cake is in the oven). When ready, cream the butter with the confectionary sugar before adding the milk to create a buttercream. When the cake has cooled completely, decorate.

Thank you for reading.
Enjoy x


  1. April 17, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    Congratulations on your nephew Harry. This is a beautiful cake and I love the image with the blown out candle smoke. Happy Easter.

    • Sumac & Dutch
      April 24, 2017 / 4:50 pm

      Thank you! Hope you had a lovely Easter full of chocolate and hot cross buns!

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