Twenty – {Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream}

I couldn’t help but feel a little chased out as I sat in the backseat of my friend’s Jeep. R and H had kindly invited me over for dinner that night, and although everything was great, it all had seemed a little… rushed. After the table was cleared, our typically fluid conversation became stagnant and punctuated by the significant “time to go” of our frequent empty silences.

The dishes were hastily loaded into the dishwasher.

I shouldered my bag and put on my shoes.

I didn’t mind the thought of being alone for most of the night on my birthday. The day lost its charm quite some time ago; losing it’s luster like a stifled candle back when I was in my preteen years. I didn’t necessarily want to be alone, but to be completely honest, I was really looking forward to spending the evening reading the amazing cookbooks R and H bought me (THANK YOU). Even so, lugging my bag down the hall made me feel small and weighted – burdened by the thought that something was wrong between some of my best friends and myself. They’d dropped me so casually…

My loosely-fitted apartment door showed signs of vacancy. No lights were visible around its edges, no sounds spilled from within and its engaged lock signaled my roommate’s absence. I twisted my key, completely prepared for the emptiness, but was met with something completely different:

Friends standing around a giant, frosted cookie topped with twenty burning candles.

They started singing.

I started tearing up.

Even now I don’t have the words to describe how sweet the whole thing was. The confusing encounter with my friends earlier that night suddenly made sense and I knew that everything was fine.

And it made me realize a few things. I may not have the biggest group of friends, but the ones I do have are amazing. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m incredibly lucky just to have them in my life. Sure, our apartment wasn’t filled to the brim with people – but that’s not how I would have wanted it. My roommate (S, you’re awesome) was there along with some of my friends and some of hers.

That was enough.

It was perfect.

And we even had a giant cookie to eat!

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream adapted from Sky High
The taste of chai tea really comes through in this cake. I really enjoyed it and hope to make it again! As a note, the author recommends using chai tea bags (6 of them can be used to replace the cardamom pods, fennel and tea) for the cake, but I couldn’t be bothered. I just used the loose black tea and spices that I use for making actual chai.

Printable Recipe

Chai Cake

1 1/3 c (315 ml) 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 (390 g) flour
2 c (398 g) sugar
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (237 g) 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.

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and line three 8″ cake pans and set aside.

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. 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.

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, then remove the cakes from the pans and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill.

Honey Ginger Cream

6 oz (170 g) cream cheese, room temp
6 tbsp (85 g) butter, room temp
1/2 c (118 ml) 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.


Level the cooled cakes with a long serrated knife. Fill and frost with the Honey-Ginger Cream.


  1. Anonymous says

    I was just about to make this exact cake in a cupcake version when I checked my reader feed and this post popped up. It made me laugh. It's an awesome cake too, I'm just to lazy to make and ice all those layers!

  2. says

    I have made this cake as the book instructed with the Tazo tea bags and the spice wasn't quite strong enough for me. I'll have to try it using my own spices – the icing was delicious!

  3. says

    I've just discovered the wonderful flavor of Chai and I'm a bit obsessed with it. I have yet to try any chai flavored desserts but I'm sure this cake is just divine!

  4. says

    Happy bday! You don't need to tell me how yummy your cake was…I can tell by the pics it was amazing! I've got to try making this Chai cake. Love Chai! Love cake!

  5. says

    I have tried the cup cake version of this cake but also added garam masala ( indian spice) and star anise powder etc. with cream cheese glaze. Its a vry unique flavour unlike the other choco, orange, strawberry cakes/cup cakes.<br />yours looking amazing. I am sure to try your layered cake version

  6. says

    Love your story (as usual!). Isn&#39;t it lovely to realize how great the ones we love are? I&#39;m so glad to hear you had a lovely birthday. And thank you for telling it so beautifully. Your blog is a gem.

  7. Anonymous says

    It&#39;s really tough when your friends casually drop you. I&#39;ve had a similar experience with a friend I had in high school. We were part of the same group of friends, and most of our conversations turned into &quot;wow, you&#39;re really cool, we should hang out one-on-one more!&quot;. Senior year, we discovered we were going to the same college. I didn&#39;t know anyone else from my school

  8. says

    I&#39;m not the only one who bakes my own birthday cake! I&#39;m happy to hear you have friends like yours, they are one of the greatest gifts.

  9. says

    There is nothing better than good friends and beautiful and tasty dessert. That&#39;s a great story and I plan to try to make this cake, though I&#39;m sure it won&#39;t be as pretty as yours. =(

  10. says

    Kid at the whisk, I couldn&#39;t have asked for a better roommate to share my last year at MSU with. Thanks for always being there to listen. I&#39;m very proud of you and all that you&#39;ve made happen for yourself. It&#39;s been a pleasure witnessing your foodgasm creations come to life! You&#39;ll most definitely be one my hardest goodbyes come May. <br /><br />Happy Birthday babe.

  11. says

    Looks delicious! Hoping to try it out this weekend – have some Chai mix at home I need to use…hopefully it comes out looking as good as yours!

  12. says

    What a great post. It&#39;s always great when the person truly has no inkling of the surprise. And I&#39;m obsessed with chai and ginger is one of my favorite flavors, so this cake is right up my alley. Happy Birthday.

  13. says

    That was such a sweet story. My daughter has 1 more year of high school. I sure hope she has a small but wonderful group of friends when she gets to college! Beautiful chair cake and such good photography!

  14. says

    This cake recipe just made my day!! Thank you so much for posting! I can&#39;t wait to try it :)<br /><br />

  15. Hilary says

    Hey! Thanks for this recipe! I made a version of it with what I had on hand and it turned out great. I halved the recipe. Used brewed chai green tea(hot)+tons of spices, one less egg+ground flax and made them into cupcakes. For the icing I just used some butter and icing sugar+ honey and ground ginger. And then glazed icing with honey diluted with lemon juice+water and lemon rhind garnish.

  16. Monica says

    This cake is so delish, especially with fall around the corner! Just made it, and I loved how dense the cake was. It resembled a spiced pumpkin cake. The frosting seemed to have a bit too much honey in it at first, but after a few days of sitting in the fridge, the cake was perfection. I decreased the amount of powdered sugar and put in an extra packet of cream cheese. Yum! Thanks for posting

  17. Helen says

    Hi- I just tried your recipe today and it&#39;s very delicious. Thank-you for sharing! After following the recipe exactly I would change it next time to better suit the taste of my family. The cake was too sweet. I would change it to 1/4 cup of honey, increase the cream cheese, and the chai tea bags to intensify the taste of the cake. I would also toast 1/2 cup of (non-sweetened large

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