Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Melissa!

We celebrated my friend Melissa's birthday this past weekend with a wonderful get together and dinner (more on that later).  Mel was part of the group I traveled to India with.  She loves a good cup of chai as much as me.  Annnnnnd we're pretty much chai snobs now that we've had the authentic stuff.  A mutual friend had posted this recipe quite some time ago and we both were pretty excited to try it.  Having never gotten around to it before I figured there was no time like the present to try it out.
The chai flavor in this cake is very subtle.  This pleased some people; but I really was hoping for a mouthful of cinnamon and ginger with my first bite.  Crank up the spices if you share my feelings, or leave them just as they are.  I also would have liked more tangy fresh ginger bits in the frosting, so I've already adjusted the amount.
If this doesn't give you enough reasons to try this cake, I don't know what will.
Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake)
1 1/3 cups milk
8 chai tea bags
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour

4 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger 

Heat milk on medium-high burner.
Steep 6 of the tea bags for 5-7 minutes over low.
It was so tempting to just drink this and make a new batch for the cake!
Remove from heat and let milk cool.
Beat eggs and vanilla.
Whisk 1/3 of the cooled chai milk into the eggs.  Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add baking powder, spices, salt, and contents of remaining two tea bags.
Add half of the flour to the butter.  Beat just until incorporated.
Mix in half of the milk, then the flour and the remaining milk.
Beat in the egg mixture.
Beat just until well combined.
Divide batter evenly between 3 8-inch round, well greased, cake pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350* oven.
Check for doneness with a toothpick.  The tops will be glossy and look wet even if the cake is done.
Cool on wire rack.
Beat cream cheese and butter together.
Add honey and vanilla, mix.
Carefully beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Mix in ginger.
To assemble, transfer one cake round to your serving platter.
Frost the top of the layer with about 1/4 of the frosting.
Add the second cake round and frost top again.
Add the last cake layer.
Use the remainder of the frosting to cover top and sides of the cake.
If you are going to decorate with flowers as I did, you'll need extra frosting.  I used plain cream cheese frosting (a little cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar) because I worried the ginger would clog up the piping tip!
I used a Wilton 1M tip to make the flowers and 67 for the leaves.
Beautiful, just like  Melissa!

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