It’s been rather quite around here. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I am enjoying having the little one home all the time this summer. Not that I am not trying new recipes or playing around with my camera, but I am simply not bound to my usual schedule of posting at least twice a week. This month, things are going to be slow around here. That said, when I do share something with you, I will make sure to blow your mind away. Maybe with cake. And chai. Or chai cake. Mind blown yet?
I finally resurfaced from my self-imposed hiatus for our monthly blogging challenge post this week. This time, we went back and forth between a couple of themes and finally settled on “cooking with tea”. For me, tea can mean only one thing, the amber-black liquid brewed with black Indian tea and consumed with milk and sugar. It is comforting, soothing and uplifting at the same time. You can read about my love for tea in this post. For this month’s theme, I challenged myself to infuse a delicious cake with my favorite kind of tea, the Indian chai or milk tea.
It is both tougher and easier than you may think. How so? Read on.
You see, it is easy to get coffee flavor into desserts. You can simply add as much of the instant kind you need in a recipe. Coffee goes exceptionally well in a chocolate cake, by the way. The same goes for certain tea flavored desserts, like matcha, which is available as a fine powder suitable for cooking with. But black tea can be tricky. Put tea dust or leaves into a cake batter and you will end up with annoying flecks of black tea and no particular flavor. I took to the internet and found a useful article on The Guardian, which suggests to infuse the tea in any of the wet ingredients, either melted butter or hot milk. The solution was obviously simple and I used tea-brewed milk in my cake recipe.
I baked a tiny test loaf flavored with cardamom and rose-water. It was delicious, tasted like chai, but there was something missing. It needed a certain aesthetic aspect like some kind of frosting or glaze. I didn’t want to smother the tea flavor with a heavy icing. And that night it came to me… brown butter!! The fancier version of a butter-sugar glaze, the lesser cousin of the favorite Indian clarified butter (ghee), it would be perfect on the chai cake. I added a good measure of cardamom to flavor the glaze as well. Drizzled generously over the still-warm cake, it is as close to cake heaven as you can possibly get!
Oh, and a word about the cake recipe here. I am sure you could use any basic vanilla cake or simple pound cake recipe. But I like to re-purpose my tried and tested recipes from ‘ze blog. I just had to find out if this would work with my egg-free and butter-free marble cake recipe. It has always been a hit with my readers with many many happy testimonials to its credit.
And it did work! I used milk tea in place of plain milk, added powdered green cardamom and used rose-water instead of some of the vanilla extract. Tea and cardamom is a no-brainer really. But the rose-water added another layer of flavor to this beauty. You can simply use vanilla extract, but I would advice you to get your hand on a bottle from your neighborhood Mediterranean store. A little goes a long way and you can use the rose-water as a face toner as well!!
This cake received a double thumbs-up from my guys and I am sure to get many requests in the future to make this. It is simple enough, but the flavors you will develop with just a few choice ingredients is nothing short of mind-blowing. The chai, cardamom and rose-water are like the notes of a well-composed tune. You definitely get the chai with a hint of cardamom and then you will get a hint of the rose. Enough to make you reach out for the next slice. And the next. Seriously addictive!!
I used a loaf pan and the cake baked to a beautiful golden color with a delicious crust. The cracking you see on top is to be expected with this recipe and it adds to the rustic element of the cake. Make the glaze during the last ten minutes of baking and drizzle on the cake while still fairly warm. As the cake cools, the glaze will thicken as well.
EXOTIC INDIAN CHAI CAKE: MILK TEA, CARDAMOM & ROSE CAKE WITH A BROWN BUTTER & CARDAMOM GLAZE
You will need: (Makes one 9×5 loaf cake)
For the cake,
- All purpose flour – 2 cups
- Baking powder – 1 1/2 tsp
- Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
- Yogurt – 2/3 cup
- Sugar – 1 cup + 1 tbsp (the extra tablespoon is to account for the tea being used in the recipe)
- Oil – 1/2 cup (use some kind of non-flavored oil like vegetable oil)
- Rose water – 1 tsp
- Milk – 2/3 cup
- Black tea dust – 2-3 tsp (use more for a more pronounced flavor)
For the brown butter glaze,
- Unsalted butter – 1/4 cup
- Powdered sugar – 1 cup
- Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
- Milk – 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp
- Milk tea, cardamom and rose cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Line and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
- Brew the milk tea first so that you have enough time to cool it. Heat milk in a saucepan and add the tea dust. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and keep covered for 3-4 minutes to allow the tea flavor to develop. Strain with a fine mesh sieve and bring this milk-tea (chai) to room temperature before using in the recipe. You need 2/3 cup of chai, so I would advise you to use a few extra tablespoons of milk while brewing tea to account for the loss via evaporation and straining.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom powder together and keep aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the yogurt and sugar on high for 2 minutes. Add the oil and rose-water. Beat for 2-3 minutes till the mixture is well combined and creamy. Do not skip this step.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients and the milk-tea to the batter alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula and do not over-mix.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes or till the cake passes the toothpick test. Remove and cool in pan for 5 minutes before pouring the glaze on top.
- Brown butter and cardamom glaze: Make the glaze in the last ten minutes of baking. To begin, sift the powdered sugar and cardamom powder together. Set aside.
- Take the butter in a saucepan and start melting it on low heat. Keep going for 5-8 minutes till butter browns and you see some sediment on the bottom. Do not burn the butter, a light browning is what we need.
- Pour this browned butter carefully into a glass bowl or jar, leaving the sediments behind. You can use a very fine mesh sieve if you have one.
- Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and whisk to combine. Add a few teaspoons of milk to thin the glaze. The glaze should look like very thick milk, it will thicken further when completely cool.
- Glazing, serving and storing: Gently remove the still warm cake to a wire rack and drizzle the glaze on top. Cool the cake completely, cut into pieces and enjoy!
- This cake can be stored lightly covered in parchment paper or with a dry tea towel on the counter-top for a couple of days and can be refrigerated after that (if you still have leftovers, that is!!).
- I would really advise you to use the rose-water in this recipe. It really helps round out the exotic flavors. But if you do not want to or have a hard time finding it, replace with an equal amount of vanilla extract.
Serve this chai cake with a glass of your favorite chai brew. It is best enjoyed with the whole family over laughter and chit-chat. It is equally good eaten straight from the pan in the middle of the night when no one is looking. Don’t ask me how I know!!
Like I mentioned above, this blog post is part of the monthly “Cooking With Friends” themed blog post challenge. This challenge was started by a bunch of virtual friends united by their love of food, with the aim of tackling a different food related theme each month. If you want to try this month’s theme, please feel free to do so and link your recipe in the comments section. We’d love to check it out.
Meanwhile, check out what the others in the group have come up with this month.
- Dolphia of Story Of Cooks
- Garima of Cafe Garima
- Jayasri of My Veg Fare
- Jyothi of Curry Trail
- Madhuri of Mad About Kitchen
- Subhasmita of The Flavours Of Kitchen
- Sujatha of Spices N Treats
Here is a recap of the previous months’ posts.
- June 2015: No-bake, no-fuss dessert for Father’s Day (Homemade Chocolate Truffles)
- May 2015: Cooking with a new-to-you produce (Asparagus, Peas And Egg Masala)
- April 2015: Frozen Treat (Mango Ice Cream Sundae)
- March 2015: Beverages/Cocktails (Sunrise Mocktail)
- February 2015: Snacks (Masala Vadai And Cardamom Tea)