I’m a tea lover all year round, but once Fall hits and things start to get cozy, chai is a staple in my tea cabinet. The aromatic spices in a cup of chai are unreal and totally reminiscent of Autumn. So when I decided to bake up those spices in cake form, not only did my kitchen smell amazing, but this Spiced Vanilla Chai Cake tasted like an Autumnal dreamscape! It’s the perfect cake for welcoming the changes of the season whether you’re a tea lover or not.
The flavor of this Vanilla Chai Cake is created by both adding the perfect spice blend to the dry ingredients and infusing the liquid with chai goodness. By adding, I mean mixing up a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cloves and whisking it into the cake flour. And by infusion, I mean pouring boiled whole milk over a chai tea bag and letting it steep before adding it to the batter at the end. Both of these methods add tons of spicy chai flavor, and combined with a good dose of vanilla extract, the result is Spiced Vanilla Chai Cake perfection.
To really up the flavor, I’ve filled and frosted this delicious cake with Vanilla Chai Buttercream. It’s basically my vanilla buttercream recipe with homemade Chai Spice Mix added, and oh my. The combination is Fall flavor heaven! You can choose to pair this cake with all sorts of buttercreams (cream cheese, chocolate, vanilla, or anything that pairs well with chai tea), but if you want the full-on chai cake experience, this is it.
To decorate, I crumbled up some Speculoos Cookies and added them to the sides of the cake after frosting, then piped some simple stars (Wilton Tip 4B) and rosettes (Wilton Tip 1M) on top of the cake in a crescent moon design. Then, I topped it all off with some cinnamon sticks and more Speculoos cookie crumbles. My favorite part of all of it is the little specks of Chai Spice Mix that come through in the buttercream. I have all the heart eyes for speckled buttercream!
Spiced Vanilla Chai Cake
Three 6-inch layers of fluffy, moist vanilla chai cake that's perfectly flavored with chai tea and a homemade chai spice mix. Top it with vanilla chai buttercream for the ultimate Autumn flavor palette.
Chai Spice Mix
- 4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Vanilla Chai Cake
- 1 1/4 Cups (296ml) whole milk
- 1 chai tea bag
- 2 3/4 Cups (290g) cake flour, sifted before measuring
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 4 tsp chai spice mix (recipe above)
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 Cups (358g) granulated white sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 Cup (112g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Chai Buttercream
- 2 Cups (452g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 7 Cups (840g) powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp chai spice mix (recipe above)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp salt
Make The Chai Spice Mix
In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cloves and set aside.
Make The Vanilla Chai Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with a cooking spray (Baker's Joy is my favorite) and fitting a wax or parchment paper circle to the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, you can grease and lightly flour the pans.
Place the chai tea bag into a mason jar. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the whole milk, stirring constantly, until it begins to boil. Pour the boiling milk over the chai tea bag in the mason jar and let steep for 20 minutes before removing the tea bag. Allow the mixture to cool completely to room temperature before moving on.
Sift the cake flour and then measure by spooning and leveling it in your measuring cup. Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, 4 teaspoons of the chai spice mix, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter for on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add in sugar and continue to mix on medium-high for another two minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix for one minute on high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more.
With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the (room temperature!) chai milk mixture slowly and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps (without over-mixing). The batter will be slightly thick, but pourable.
Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans (no more than 2/3 of the way full) and bake for 30-35 minutes. They're done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for five minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack for an additional few hours of cooling. Make sure they're entirely room temperature before applying any frosting.
Make The Vanilla Chai Buttercream
With a hand mixer or paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the butter on medium-high until it’s creamy and light (almost white) in color. About 7 minutes.
Whisk 1 Tbsp of the Chai Spice Mix into the measured powdered sugar. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar mixture a few cups at a time, scraping down after each addition and making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
Add vanilla, milk, and salt and mix on medium-low for another two minutes until fully incorporated.
Once the Vanilla Chai Cakes have cooled completely, fill and frost the layers with Vanilla Chai Buttercream. To create the design pictured, add crushed Speculoos Cookies to the sides of the cake by placing them into the palm of your hand and gently pressing them onto the buttercream finish. Then, fit one piping bag with Wilton Tip 4B and another piping bag with Wilton Tip 1M before filling each with Vanilla Chai Buttercream. Pipe rosettes and stars onto the top of the cake in a crescent moon shape, add some cinnamon sticks, and sprinkle more crushed Speculoos Cookies on top.
Make Ahead Notes:
- The chai milk mixture can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter.
- The cake layers can be made ahead and stored, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, you can store the wrapped cake layers in the freezer for up to 2 months before thawing and frosting.
- The Vanilla Chai Buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip in your stand mixer to bring back to smooth buttercream consistency.
What are some of your favorite Fall cake recipes? I particularly love this Caramel Apple Cake and this Matcha Cake (another tea lover’s dream!). It’s the perfect time of year for baking all of the above. Be sure to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram if you try this Vanilla Chai Cake (or any of my recipes!) – I love to see what you’re creating!