Friday, April 1

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. 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. oh my god I must make this when I return from camping this weekend, maybe in cupcake form I'm not sure yet - looks beautiful!

  3. 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!

  4. Aww, good friends!! I'm so glad your birthday did, indeed, include lotsa cake! I love chai spices, so I can't wait to make this.

  5. A surprise party! How fun!

    This cake looks awesome too--with all those layers!

  6. 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!

  7. Wow! Such a fantastic story. It made me get a little choked up. Cheers to great friends & Happy Birthday :)

  8. That is one tall, regal cake! And basically, you had me at the ginger cream. ;)

  9. Happy Birthday!! I wish you all the best :) Your cake looks great as always! xox

  10. Interesting combination of flavors!!

  11. This look fabulous. I already have the cardamom on hand because I brew the pods with me tea. I'm looking forward to making this. Happy to have discovered your blog!

  12. I have been looking for a cake to make for my 20th birthday and I love chai, I think I'm going to make this! I'm so glad you birthday turned out great!

  13. aw, what a sweet birthday surprise <3 This cake is perfect for my tea loving friend! you made it look so pretty with the little flowers :D

  14. Happy birthday, Kaitlin! That cake looks amazing.

  15. Gorgeous! Just wanted to also let you know that I refered you in my favorite blogs at

    could you return the favor! Thanks much!

  16. Looks divine! I bet the flavors were amazing!

  17. That looks really good! Chai is one flavor I haven't incorporated into cake yet, but I'm sure I will.

  18. 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!

  19. This looks and sounds amazing! i can't wait to try it out


  20. This recipe sounds wonderful. I love chai. I will make this cake for my husbands birthday end of this month.

  21. 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.
    yours looking amazing. I am sure to try your layered cake version

  22. What a nice surprise! It's so great to have friends like that. This cake looks amazing... Honey-Ginger cream sounds to die for! Happy belated Birthday!

  23. Sorry, I know I already commented but, today I nominated you for an award, so stop by if you have a chance.
    = ) Jess

  24. Oo, happy birthday! What a nice surprise.
    And the cake looks delicious.

  25. Looks fabulous! I absolutely love chai, so I'll have to try this recipe out. I've experimented with chai in cookies ... but not cake yet.

  26. This cake looks so good. Your first picture of the half eaten cake is mouthwatering!

  27. even though it's not a good thing...i ENVY you! (: happy birthday!


  28. Love your story (as usual!). Isn't it lovely to realize how great the ones we love are? I'm so glad to hear you had a lovely birthday. And thank you for telling it so beautifully. Your blog is a gem.

  29. It's really tough when your friends casually drop you. I'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 "wow, you're really cool, we should hang out one-on-one more!". Senior year, we discovered we were going to the same college. I didn't know anyone else from my school going to that college, so we talked about all the things we were going to do together once we got there.

    Fast forward a few months. Leaving my friends, family, and boyfriend was really tough and I cried a lot the first few days. I called this friend a few times, asking if here move-in went okay and if she'd like to hang out soon. She never called back so I sent her a message on Facebook. I convinced myself maybe her phone wasn't working, and maybe she didn't go on the internet often.

    A few days later, I saw her at a party and walked over to say hi. She introduced me to her new friend, told me she changed her name, and walked off without saying goodbye. I can take a hint, so I didn't try and contact her after that. But it still bothers me. Getting casually dropped by a close friend is always hard.

    But hey, at least your friends were only pretending so they could do something nice for you! I guess it's not the same thing at all.

    Hope you had a good birthday.

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

  31. There is nothing better than good friends and beautiful and tasty dessert. That's a great story and I plan to try to make this cake, though I'm sure it won't be as pretty as yours. =(

  32. Kid at the whisk, I couldn't have asked for a better roommate to share my last year at MSU with. Thanks for always being there to listen. I'm very proud of you and all that you've made happen for yourself. It's been a pleasure witnessing your foodgasm creations come to life! You'll most definitely be one my hardest goodbyes come May.

    Happy Birthday babe.

  33. sounds amazing!! surprise parties are the best! i am a new follower to your blog and i just love it! always looking forward to reading it!

  34. 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!

  35. What awesome flavors!!! This looks incredibly delicious:)

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

  37. 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!

  38. This cake recipe just made my day!! Thank you so much for posting! I can't wait to try it :)

  39. When should the vanilla be added to the recipe? It's missing from the instructions and I forgot to add it!

  40. And for those wondering...if you halve the recipe, it works perfectly for 12 cupcakes. Bake around 20-22 minutes.

  41. Hey T! Thanks for letting me know I left that out! I fixed the recipe :)

  42. 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. Whoever said baking was a science was least with this failsafe recipe. I am excited to try this cake for real sometime...without my sad substitutions. Thanks for the great story+recipe!!

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. 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 this recipe!

  46. First time on your blog. This cake looks awesome - just the inspiration I needed because I've been thinking up ideas for a chai-infused creation.
    Beautiful photos.

  47. Hi- I just tried your recipe today and it'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 flaked) coconut to sprinkle on the outside of the cake. It's just my thoughts. But I love the concept, and this blog is wonderful. Thanks again!!


Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email them to me at

Have a great day!