This salted caramel chai cake is a deliciously spiced cake with cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. It's moist and complements the mild coffee chocolate buttercream and of course a serious drizzle of salted caramel. It's so easy to make this small 6 inch cake you've got no excuse to not make cake anymore!
Small batch cake series
Salted caramel chai spice cake is part 2 of my 3 small cakes series. I'm making 3 separate, and vastly different recipes from the same basic cake batter. To prove to you that cake making can be super easy. If you master one of them, you will master all!
The first was a lemon blueberry cake filled with lemon curd and frosted with a Swiss meringue. The third and final was this chocolate raspberry cake! In the lemon blueberry cake I also show how you can make the cake in 1, 2 and 3 layers. You can apply the same strategy to this cake as well.
They are all compiled in this 6 Inch Cakes and other small batch desserts round-up!
These cakes are perfect for when that craving of cake hits, but you haven't got many to share it with. I know the struggle, and especially these days! All the cakes use a 6 inch cake pan, or two in fact, so that you can fill the cakes with lemon curd, salted caramel, whatever, you know?
If you don't have two 6 inch pans, you can bake one layer at a time. This is what I did. I kept the cake batter in my cool hallway in the meantime. I could not tell the difference from each layer, so I'm sure you won't either. Perfect!
What is chai made of?
Chai actually only means 'tea' in India. It is kind of misleading to call a spice blend for chai. What we are looking for is in fact masala - which means spice, or masala chai if you're adding tea (and milk). This blend of spices will vary depending on which household you ask.
However, it seems like it contains at least a generous amount of green cardamom and ginger, some cloves and cinnamon and then it varies with ingredients like black pepper and star anise. I've also seen fennel seeds used sometimes. You can read more about the masala spice mix here.
If you want to make your own masala chai spice mix, I've got a recipe for that too and it includes how to use it in a chai tea latte!
The spice mixture is often called karha too, and it refers to a mixture of spices that has been prepared for a specific purpose.
I call this recipe a chai cake because of the mulling, warming spices that often are in a chai spice blend, but really, chai can be so much more.
Difference between chai, gingerbread, apple and pumpkin spices
I have been wondering about this for ages. What makes us name a recipe pumpkin spice latte, or apple spice cake? Gingerbread cookies and now chai cake. Seemingly, all of these are filled with warming, mulling spices.
You can get away with calling gingerbread for chai and apple spice for pumpkin spice. At least in my opinion! However, after some research I've found some similarities and differences among the spices.
- Chai: Green cardamom and ginger are the stars, supported by cinnamon, cloves and sometimes other spices like pepper and nutmeg.
- Gingerbread: a balanced ratio between allspice, cinnamon and ginger and a little less cloves and nutmeg.
- Pumpkin spice: the same spices as in gingerbread, but much heavier on the cinnamon.
- Apple pie spice: similar to pumpkin spice but has no cloves and instead it's cardamom.
Really, you can call it whatever and it's just minor differences. I still find it interesting though. What matters is that what you're making is delicious, right!
A take on the Norwegian Tropisk Aroma
This salted caramel chai cake is a take on a classic Norwegian cake, Tropisk Aroma, which translates to as you might've guessed Tropical Aroma. It's called Tropisk Aroma because of the then-exotic spices of nutmeg and cinnamon. I have one recipe for that too, but it's not yet published and will make sure to link to it here once it's live!
There are two ways to make a Tropical Aroma. One is like this, where you have the same ingredients in both layers of the cake. However, some also like to have ⅓ of the cake (1 of 3 layers) with a little unsweetened cocoa powder in it.
I haven't grown up with that version, and so my cake will just be a chai spice cake. It is covered in the most delicious chocolate buttercream though!
A coffee buttercream the kids will love too
As I mentioned, Tropisk Aroma is a cake I have grown up with, and the buttercream has always been a big hit - no matter the age. It is a coffee chocolate buttercream frosting, and even the kids love the mild coffee flavor.
I use the same buttercream for this salted caramel chai cake as well. You can of course omit the coffee, but I super super highly recommend having it in. Or use decaf coffee if you need to! It complements the spices in the cake beautifully. The buttercream is mild, chocolatey and very addictive.
All you need to do is to mix the ingredients together!
Salted caramel sauce
Speaking of addiction, salted caramel is one of the best inventions in life. All of my salted caramel recipes are based on my 10 minute salted caramel sauce, however, I like to make it a little thicker for this spice cake, with 100ml heavy cream instead of 160ml.
This thicker salted caramel is also used in these homemade Rolos, salted caramel filled milk chocolates. Such a big hit in my Christmas chocolate gift boxes.
If it's too thick when you're going to drizzle it, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can use store bought caramel, but it's just a few simple ingredients and so worth it.
Other recipes with salted caramel I highly recommend are this apple pie cake, salted caramel apple pavlova, salted caramel macarons (these are always a big hit!), apple caramel latte macchiato, salted caramel Guinness brownies and coffee Guinness salted caramel sauce. My newest addition are fluffy caramel marshmallows!
You simply can't go wrong with salted caramel and it works so well with a little extra warming spices. If you want, you can also use dulce de leche from scratch or just store bought!
How to make salted caramel chai cake
Start by pre-heating the oven to 325F (160C) and grease two 6-inch cake pans. I also like to cover the bottom in parchment paper (if you've got spring forms). If you only have one cake pan, you can keep half of the batter in a cold place until the first cake is baked and cooled.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, salt and spices. In a large bowl, mix softened butter until creamy (about 1 minute) and then add in the sugar and cream until pale and fluffy (another 3 minutes).
I realize there's a gap between step 5 and 6 in the photos. Step 5 is before the cake batter is finished and 6 is the buttercream frosting. In all the hustle and bustle that day, I forgot to snap a photo of the cake batter and the finished baked cake. Sorry!
Add the eggs one at a time, whipping in between, then add in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Divide between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out reasonably clean.
Cool completely in the pan, and once it's cold you can frost the cake. On a cake stand, place one of the cakes. Spread with ½ cup of the coffee chocolate buttercream, drizzle with a general amount of salted caramel. Now top with the other cake and continue to frost the entire cake.
I also like to drizzle a little extra salted caramel on top, sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and garnish with whole spices like cinnamon sticks and star anise. Enjoy this masala chai cake with a cup of coffee or tea!
Did you like this salted caramel spiced chai cake? Here's more spiced desserts I think you will like:
- Pumpkin Spice Latte (a classic for a reason!)
- Salted Caramel Apple Cake (you can tell I love salted caramel and spices right)
- Pumpkin White Chocolate Muffins (everything is better with crumb topping)
- Chai Whiskey Hot Toddy (so cozy!)
- Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls (definitely a combination hard to beat)
- Zesty Orange Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon (pair it with cinnamon rolls for that ultimate treat)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
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