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Friday 24 August 2012

Baking for Beginners: Chai Cake

I adore chai, the soothing properties of tea combined with warming spices are just a match made in heaven (and also my go-to hangover cuppa). In fact I have an entire kitchen shelf devoted to various spiced teas that I can't resist buying whenever I find a new one (always accompanied by the cry of "MORE bloody tea?" from my fella as I pop yet another box onto the shelf that's already groaning with must have impulsively bought teas).

Being half-Welsh I was pretty much brought up on Bara Brith which is made using dried fruits and cold tea so I though I would try making a slightly more exotic version. You can buy chai teabags in most supermarkets but if you can't find any then use double the amount of Earl Grey teabags and add extra spices - cardamom, ginger, cloves and cinnamon work a treat. This makes enough for two cakes and they keep for about two weeks without icing. They also freeze really well.. The day I made this my little niece was visiting who is learning to talk, as she scoffed her way through her third piece she decided that my new name was forever more to be: "Hazel Cake", yep I'm totally down with that moniker, and what's even better is I've definitely secured my place as her favourite auntie (which was basically my reason for making the cake in the first place).

You'll need: (makes 2 x 2lb loaf tins)
  • 500g dried mixed fruit
  • 400g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 crushed cardamom pods (inner seed only)
  • 600ml boiling water
  • 6 chai teabags 
  • 2 eggs
  • 500g self raising flour
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 2 tblsp icing sugar
  • 150g shelled pistachio nuts
Make it!
  1. The day before you make your cake you need to soak your dried fruit. Put your teabags in your boiled water and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Combine your dried fruit, sugar, ginger and cardamom in a bowl then pour over your stewed tea (minus the tea bags) and stir well. Leave overnight.
  2. The following day beat your eggs and stir into your fruit mixture along with the flour and mix well. Line your loaf tins with tin foil (or greased baking parchment) and pour in your cake mixture so its about 3/4 of the way full. Put in the middle of an oven preheated to 180C and cook for about 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. If the top is starting to burn and the cake isn't ready just cover the top with foil and continue to cook. Once done leave to cool inside the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.
  3. Make your icing by beating the icing sugar into the cream cheese. When the cakes are cold spoon the mixture over and cover with crushed pistachios and have a big slice with a nice cup of tea.


  1. Boyf is repeatedly poking me and saying 'make the cake, make it, make the chai cake'....I suspect we'll be having some before the weekend is over!

  2. I like that we've moved on to batch cake making, Hazel. I don't think one would be enough.

    1. What can I say, we were brought up to make double anything "just in case someone drops round". In my house people never leave hungry...or sober

  3. I now have chai tea fermented fruit waiting for me in the kitchen and am about to begin baking! Thanks for this recipe - I have a bazillion chai tea bags lying around my kitchen and no hope of ever working my way through them UNTIL NOW. :)

    1. Post a pic of your ace cake on our Facebook page, would love to see it!

  4. Great recipe. I used glace icing, by special request, and chopped crystalised ginger. Pic on Facebook.


    1. Whatever you want, Anon! Often you buy bags of it in the baking section of your supermarket so it'll vary depending on what brand you buy. Whitworths have loads of varieties - pick whichever one you fancy..

  6. This sounds gorgeous, hoping to try this weekend. Any ideas how I could adapt this for cupcakes?


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