Chai Spice Cake with Ginger Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

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My chai spice cake!

INTRO

Oh boy, my first entry!  Like my method for teaching myself to cook and bake, I am going to develop my routine for this blog through trial-and-error.  I’m going to organize this entry by breaking into 3 main segments: Intro, Recipe, and Conclusion.  I think it’s pretty straight-forward.

In this intro I will introduce the recipe I will be blogging about: Chai Spice Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.  This is a recipe that I have wanted to try for some time.  I love masala chai, it is one of my favorite drinks.  I also love cake, so the combo really appealed to me.  I first stumbled upon this recipe on Whisk Kid’s blog.  Her pictures of her cake are amazing.  One day I hope to have pictures just as lovely!

In my recipe research for this endeavor I found a few variations, but I liked Whisk Kid’s version, as it didn’t use pre-spiced tea bags.  Rather her recipe required adding the spices to the tea yourself.  I thought that this would increase the flavor, and I also have all these spices in my pantry anyway.

Lastly, I was given a perfect opportunity to make this cake: my mom’s bunco party!  She was more than happy to have me to be in charge of preparing a dessert for her party, and she also loves chai as much as I do.

RECIPE
Here are the ingredients you will need:

Chai Cake Ingredients
1 1/3 cup skim milk
6 Tbsp loose black tea
15 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp fennel
1/2″ of ginger, peeled and grated
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c flour
2 c  sugar
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, room temp

  • Place the milk, tea, cardamom, fennel and ginger in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and let bubble for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let steep 5 minutes. Strain the flavored milk into a bowl pressing the grounds with a rubber spatula to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and set milk aside to cool.

So basically you begin kind of like you are making chai.  One thing I would urge people attempting this to be aware of is how sensitive milk can be to heat.  Burnt milk is nasty!  So don’t turn the heat up too high, be sure to let it heat slowly and once it’s reached the desired temperature, GET IT OFF THE STOVE ASAP!!!!

Also try your local Indian grocery store as a place to buy your spices!  The prices are usually much better than what you’ll find at the supermarket, and in my experience, they are much fresher.  If you don’t have an Indian grocery store nearby, you might have to order certain things like cardamom pods, online.  

PhotobucketEggs, chai milk mix, eggs in a bowl.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the chai milk. Set aside.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

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  • Beat on low to combine, then add the butter and remaining chai milk. Beat on low-speed to blend, then raise speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl often and mixing just to incorporate.

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Top picture is of the wet batter of eggs, milk mixture, vanilla, and butter.

The bottom picture is of the mixture after the dry mixture has been incorporated.

Now, at this stage you will have a nice batter.  If you aren’t afraid of raw eggs, I would advise tasting a tiny bit, just to make sure things taste right.  If the batter tastes bad at this point, there is no reason to bother baking it!  And by tasting it, you can also determine if you should add a bit of salt or more of another spice.

This is also a good time to PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350 DEGREES.

And as you’re going to have to put the batter in your pans soon, you should go and prepare them.  I like to coat them in cooking spray (like Pam or some off-brand) and they I trace a wax-paper circle to insert into the pan (I use a pencil, most pens won’t write well on wax-paper and I don’t want Sharpie ink baked into my food!).  I also coat the wax-paper insert with spray.

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  • Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and bake 26-28 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool cakes in pans on a rack for ten minutes.

The recipe says cool of 10 minutes, but I really don’t think that’s enough time.  The cake seemed way too fragile.  I let it cool for about 30 minutes before I wrapped it in plastic wrap.

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  • Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill.

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interlude: BUTTER PROBLEM!!

So this is a problem I have a lot, I’m sorry to say.  Sometimes I read a recipe, and when I read the butter part, I just skip over the word “softened.”  This is really not okay!!  Fat in a recipe is really important, and sometimes you do not have the flexibility to get it wrong.  Sometimes it is the difference between something tasting “good” vs “really good.”

I made this mistake!  My butter was not room temperature AT ALL, and I wasn’t in the mood to wait 5,000 hours for it to soften.  So I did a lazy thing and nuked it in the microwave.  I hoped things would be okay.  In this case, they were.  But in recipes where butter is meant to be cold, like in pastries, I think you have less flexibility.  Like none.

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Honey Ginger Cream Cheese Icing

This icing is SOOOOOOOOO delicious.  Like, it is not an exaggeration to include all those extra o’s to ‘so.’  The honey and the ginger really complement each other.  The honey adds a great extra flavor to the sweetness, and the ginger adds a nice, sharp, bite.

Also, the original recipe called for 6oz cream cheese and 6 tbsp butter.  I had an 8oz cream cheese container, so I used all of it and adjusted the butter.  It tasted great, so I’d do the same again.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
8 tbsp butter, room temp
1/2 c honey
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 1/2 c (547 g) confectioners’ sugar

Place all of the ingredients but the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and beat until combined and lightened. Add half of the sugar and whip to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining sugar, and beat until fully incorporated.

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Assembly

Fill and frost with the Honey-Ginger Cream.  It’s pretty obvious, put icing on the cake and stack the layers.  DUH!!

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CONCLUSION

I made the cake the night before the party, as cake usually tastes better after it has had time to sit for a while.  (Pie is the opposite, it tastes the best the day it is made, I think).

The night of the party, I brought the cake out a few hours before I anticipated it being served.  Allowing the cake to reach room temperature helps to ensure that the flavors are more robust.  Think about it like cheese, so much for flavor is unlocked in room temp cheese, then in cheese still in a refrigerator coma.

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I received a lot of compliments about the cake, but the biggest complement I received was in the form of an order!

Yes, one of my mom’s friends hired me to make her a carrot cake for her bunco party next month!  And she specifically requested that I use the icing I used for this chai cake.  I told you the icing was delicious!

As for my opinion, I wasn’t wowed by the cake.  It was good, but not what I was hoping for.  I thought it was a bit dry, maybe because I screwed the butter up, maybe because I didn’t wrap the cake in plastic wrap right away (but I really thought they were too fragile for that).  Also I didn’t think it was spicy (not hot spicy) enough.  Next time I’d boost the spices, maybe even add cloves.

But it was good enough to not last long.  These leftovers didn’t make it past the weekend!
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Until next time,

The Hopeful Hestia

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