When I was 13 I remember being at Starbucks and seeing “Iced Chai Latte” on the menu board.
My mom had always been a tea-drinker, and she loved Chai tea. So I thought to myself, Oh ok… I mean I don’t want a frappuccino or whatever that is, so let’s try it out.
I had one sip and was HOOKED. It was like a symphony in my mouth: the warmth of cinnamon, the pucker of ginger, and that floral and exotic combination of black tea and cardamom danced across my tastebuds.
From then on, every time I went to Starbucks I would order an Iced Chai. I’d even bite the straw with my front teeth, making the straw’s hole smaller just to savor it longer.
Then, a few years later I spent a summer in northern India. There they make masala chai from scratch with hot milk, lots of sugar, and in a pot as big as your arms can make a circle. Only there, the cardamom is even stronger.
I must’ve drank it by the quart it was so good.
So like yeah, I kind of love chai spice. Kind of a lot.
This recipe combines those glorious chai spice flavors into a soft and moist cake that is almost too good. This Chai Spice Cake is then finished with a tangy cream cheese frosting, bringing out the spice even more so and adding a little extra oomph to the cake.
Sidenote: is it just me or when someone sees a recipe for vanilla frosting do they substitute it with cream cheese frosting instead because it’s so much better? No, just me? Oh no you too? OK cool.
Anywho. I’m super into this Chai Spice Cake. And if you’re a chai fan, I feel like you will be too.
Enjoy, friends, and happy almost weekend!!!
for the cake
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk
for the frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup blackberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- 2 tablespoons candied ginger
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- edible gold leaves
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line three 6-inch cake pans* with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions. Continue to beat until batter forms a pale yellow color. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- Alternate folding in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, mixing only until combined.
- Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and whip to combine, about 1 minute more.
- Place the first cake on a plate, then top with a large dollop of frosting. Layer the second and third layers, frosting in between each. Finish with frosting the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting. I used a cake scraper to give my cake that unfinished, naked look!
- Last, top your cake with garnishes. I used blackberries, chopped pistachios, candied ginger, cinnamon sticks, black sesame seeds, and edible gold leaves!
*you can also use two 8-inch cake pans.