I’ve been flicking through the pages of the latest Little & Friday Cookbook, themed Celebrations and full of wonderful, celebratory recipes for a host of occasions. And every time I bookmark yet another recipe that needs to be tested, ie that I am dying to taste. Chocolate Beetroot Salted Caramel Cake for a Chocolate 21st, Raspberry Coconut Lamingtons (a Kiwi favourite) for a Kids Party, Turkish Pide for a picnic, Baby Cakes for Mothers Day..
This Cinnamon Chai Bundt Cake drew my attention because, although I am not a chai tea fan, I do enjoy the spice mix of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. As if slathering it with chocolate ganache wasn’t enough, the simple vanilla cake is layered with a crumble of chocolate, chai spices, walnuts and medjool dates.
I’ve always loved the large, soft medjool dates, however, in NZ they are ridiculously expensive. And are located in the produce section of all places, stored in a bulk bin and sold individually. If I could ever actually locate them in the store (why not stock them in an obvious place like, I don’t know, the dried fruit aisle with all the other dried fruit?) the price always put me off.
At our local grocery here in Calgary, they are still located in a somewhat crazy spot (with the sweet potatoes) but are very much affordable. And what a treat. I love packing one or two in my handbag for when my sugar levels plummet – my form of candy.
On that note, and this might just be Canadian ignorance, but I scoured our grocery for ages recently looking for the cocoa. The clerk looked at me like I was a crazy person when I asked where it was stored, “uh with the coffee of course”. With the coffee? Is that normal here?
When I went back to the exact same store a couple of weeks later for my next round of cocoa I headed straight to the coffee aisle, scouring the shelves for it.
Of course it was in the baking aisle.
I made this cake with a good friend who, like me, was able to analyse and critise the recipe where necessary. There were a number of edits we would make to this recipe. The crumble was much less a crumble and more a paste – most likely because the dates were warm and melted the chocolate. However even when cooled it was in no way crumble form. Instead of buying chai syrup we used the syrup remaining from soaking the dates. The vanilla cake was rather bland despite adding about 1/4 cup of the chai syrup. Plus the batter was super thick. I would be tempted to add 1/3 cup of the chai syrup right off the bat next time. Finally, the recipe calls for 4 layers of vanilla cake with 3 layers of the ‘crumble’. This was not possible with the tin we used, and we could barely stretch the between three layers – they were quite thin. Perhaps a round standard cake tin would work better.
Cinnamon Chai Bundt Cake
Recipe from Little and Friday (NZ Cafe Cookbook)
Makes 1 25cm cake
1 cup chopped dates (medjool)
2 chai tea bags, to infuse
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts
1 tbsp good quality cocoa
3 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp chai powder (from chai tea bags)
150g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, unsalted
1 1/4 cups castor sugar
1 tbsp chai syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
Because the cream here is more carrageenan, gum and other fillers than actual milk we opted to use coconut cream instead. Warm 1/2 cup coconut cream in a saucepan until just below boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in 200g of chopped quality dark chocolate until melted and smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before using.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 25cm bundt tin and dust with flour.
To make crumble filling place dates and 2 chai tea bags in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until dates are soft (there will be quite a bit of liquid remaining if using medjool dates). Let cool. Place remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add cooked dates and pulse to combine.
To make cake, place sour cream and yogurt in a bowl. Mix in baking soda and let stand for 15 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile sift flour, ginger, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add chai syrup (or reminaning liquid from simmering dates) and vanilla and mix to combine.
Using a large metal spoon, fold a third of the dry ingredients into creamed mixture, followed by a third of the sour cream mixture. Continue in this way until all combined.
Spread a quarter (I recommend a third) of the cake mixture into prepared cake pan and top with a third (I recommend half) of the crumble mixture. Repeat the process, finishing with a layer of cake mixture.
Bake in centre of oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in tin. Trim top of cake flush with tin before turning out. Gently warm chocolate ganache and drizzle over cake.