I love baking up new treats any time of year, but there’s something extra special about getting creative in the kitchen in the wintertime. The way the oven warms the home, the way the scents of sweet treats fill the air, and, of course, the getting to finally enjoy the resulting pastries.
We celebrated my mom’s birthday last week at our home. I always look forward to making something unique for her special day and kicking off the unofficial sweet-treat-baking-season! It didn’t take me long this year, to decide that a spiced vanilla chai cake would be the perfect way to try my hand at something new, and (hopefully) be a crowd pleaser. Spoiler: It was.
I found the recipe for this cake over at The Almond Eater. I followed the recipe exactly, keeping it entirely vegan, save for swapping out the spices listed and substituting my homemade chai spice instead, and adding some into the cake batter as well (the original recipe doesn’t add spices into the actual cake.) I also added just a hint more vanilla than called for.
If you’re not vegan, you could certainly use real butter, an alternative frosting recipe, and swap the unsweetened applesauce with an egg. But, I must admit, this is a delightful vegan dessert – and I would recommend giving it a try as-is, if you’re up for it!
Spiced Vanilla Chai Layer Cake
Original recipe via The Almond Eater
For the Cake:
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup dairy free butter (I recommend Earth Balance’s buttery sticks)
- 1½ cups almond milk
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons chai spice, optional (or ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and a large pinch of cloves, all spice, and cardamom)
For the frosting:
- 2½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup dairy free butter
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons chai spice (or ¼ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves, all spice, and cardamom
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes. Note that the vegan butter might look a bit more clumpy than regular butter – it’s fine!
- Add in the milk, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla and stir to combine.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix, on low, until everything is well combined, taking care not to over-stir.
- Grease three 6″ cake pans (you could use any size pan, but will need to adjust bake time accordingly) and distribute batter evenly into all three. Bang the pans on the countertop a few times, to even out the batter and get rid of air bubbles.
- Bake cakes for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Once cakes are done, remove from oven and allow them to cool in the pans for at least ten minutes before gently turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- When it’s about time to frost the cakes, make the frosting by creaming together the powdered sugar and butter (I found chopping up the butter first helped tremendously) with a stand or hand mixer and then adding in the milk, vanilla, and spices – until smooth.
- Once the cakes have cooled, you can choose to leave them as is or remove the “dome” from each cake so that the tops are more flat (I left mine as-is.) Place the first cake on your cake stand or a plate and top with a healthy dollop of frosting, spreading it evenly. Top with the second layer and repeat for the third layer. Once they’re all stacked, use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
So simple, so lovely, and so sweet!
I garnished mine with a couple of dried orange slices (tutorial here), some star anise, a few cranberries, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and placed some rosemary twigs next to it for a pop of color.
Happy baking, friends!