This week there was an afternoon where I wore jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. I even had a light scarf on for a while until I got to walking. I guess that means fall is on its way. With Fall in the air, I dreamed up this cake as a little extra baking. It definitely wasn’t on my list of baking to do any time soon, but Thursday night I just knew I HAD to bake. Of course, I also knew my roommate would be out of town for the weekend and that I needed to have somewhere to bring a cake. So, I invited some friends to a pot luck down by the lake after classes on Friday, and got to baking!
This cake has a dense crumb but bursts with spicy tea flavor and holds together well. The frosting lends it a milk sweetness, while the spice and orange zest in the frosting keep it from crossing the line into too sweet. It tastes like a warm cup of tea enjoyed under the changing leaves flickering in the autumn breeze.
Chai Tea Cake
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 c butter, room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1.5 cups cake flour
- 1.5 t baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2/3 cup milk
- 4 chai tea bags
- Mix the dry spices in a small bowl and set aside. If you have cardamom, that would be a great addition too!
- Add the milk to a small sauce pan over medium-low heat with two chai tea bags. Once the milk is warm, you can remove from the heat, but stir and let the tea brew for at least five minutes. Remove the tea bags and cool the milk to at least room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare an 8 or 9in cake pan. (I used my brand new shiny 9 in springform.)
- Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy, at least 3 minutes.
- Mix in the egg and the vanilla and scrape down the bowl.
- In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, the tea from inside two chai tea bags, and 1.5 tsp of the dry spice mixture from step 1.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter/sugar/egg/vanilla mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. You may want to stir in the last bit of flour with a spoon or spatula to avoid overmixing.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
I’ll be the first to admit that I usually find buttercream frosting too heavy and too sweet. I originally wanted to use a whipped cream orange zest frosting for this cake, and I still think it would be amazing, but I just didn’t have any cream. I modified this frosting from Sweetapolita’s whipped vanilla bean frosting (which I have used on my vanilla strawberry cake and enjoyed). (http://sweetapolita.com/2011/07/fluffy-vanilla-cake-with-whipped-vanilla-bean-frosting/)
Orange Zest Chai Buttercream
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 tsp milk
- zest of one orange
- remaining dry spice mixture from cake recipe
- Whip the butter for at least five minutes, up to 10, on medium high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar and continue to whip for several minutes.
- Add vanilla, orange zest, and the rest of the spice mixture and mix to incorporate.
- After the cake has cooled outside of the pan, cut it in half. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the first tier.
- Top the frosting with some crushed almonds and add the second layer.
- Frost the top of the cake, but not the sides* and add more crushed almonds around the border of the cake.
*If you really love frosting you may want to double the recipe and/or frost the sides of the cake as well. I wanted the orange to complement the chai, but I wanted the tea flavor to be the star.
There were only four of us at the picnic but, as you can see from the picture, everyone enjoyed the cake enough to ask for another slice! I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture of it before we started cutting it up. Make it and let the orange zest gently transition you from summer into that first warm step towards the spicy fall sunshine.