Two of the best flavors of fall combine to create this vanilla chai cake with pumpkin-white chocolate ganache and pumpkin spice buttercream. Perfect for any fall celebration!
Chai and I go waaaayyyy back.
Like, back to the dark ages of my pregnancy with Remy when it was the only thing I could drink in the morning without gagging.
Maybe it was the spice or the subtle sweetness or the just-right amount of caffeine. More likely it was all of the above. Either way, I basically overdosed on chai lattes for 10 months (because YES A PREGNANCY IS TEN MONTHS AND DON’T LET ANY LIARS TELL YOU OTHERWISE) and haven’t been able to bring myself to drink one since.
Well. It’s taken two years and six months but….it’s time.
Except by drink I clearly mean EAT CHAI CAKE because I’m still not sure I’m ready to latte it up yet. Pregnancy nausea leaves very strong food associations that are not to be reckoned with. Let’s just consider this a baby step in the right direction.
While everyone else out there is making pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin spice all the things, this cake gets a little bit off the beaten path with it’s chai-ness. It still has pumpkin in it, but it’s really not the driving flavor…more of a subtle undertone.
The cake is made with milk that’s been steeped in chai tea but it also has the usual players in terms of fall spices. It is then filled with a pumpkin white chocolate ganache and iced in a pumpkin chai buttercream, both of which are made with real pumpkin. And yes that orange hue is au naturel. No food coloring needed here! I think it would be perfect for a Halloween party or, you know, a random Saturday cake adventure. Whichever comes first.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp loose chai tea
- cooking spray or butter, for the pans
- 2¼ cups cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 4 large egg yolks
- 12 oz chopped white chocolate
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- 5 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 2½ tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp corn syrup
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp loose chai tea
- 3½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan to a slow simmer over medium-low heat. Add the tea to the pan and then immediately remove from the heat. Allow the tea to steep for 8-10 minutes then strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the tea. Let milk cool to room temperature.
- Heat oven to 350F. Spray three 6-inch cake pans with baking spray and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add in the vanilla and egg yolks one at a time.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Turn the mixer to low and then add in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the chai-spiced milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix just until combined.
- Divide the batter among the prepared baking pans. Place in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes and then remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Heat the pumpkin, cream, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. Allow to simmer for a few minutes and then pour over the white chocolate. Whisk until melted. Add in the butter and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator until cooled and slightly thickened, about 1-2 hours.
- Place the butter and the tea in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt, turn the heat to low, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for another 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the tea and chill to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Turn the mixer down to medium-low and then add in the powdered sugar, pumpkin, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix until they are incorporated and then turn the mixer speed to medium-high. Beat until light and fluffy.
- Place the bottom cake layer on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread half the pumpkin ganache over the top of the cake layer with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the remaining ganache. Top with the final layer.
- Frost the tops and sides of the cake with the pumpkin buttercream. Decorate as desired.
Isn’t it crazy what pregnancy will do to you? With my first, it was all Raisin Bran Crunch ALL.THE.TIME. I don’t think I’ve had it since. With my second, I had Mexican food early on in my pregnancy and something about it just never sat right again until long after Henry was born (thank god, I can eat it now!). This cake is stunning! I love a good chai in the fall!
I’m all for pumpkin spice lattes, but you have brought forth a very important query. Why are pumpkin chai lattes not a thing?
Would this make a quarter sheet pan or a half sheet pan worth of cake? I prefer to use sheet pans when making cakes because it makes it easier to cut out even layers.
I haven’t tried it but would guess more likely a quarter sheet pan based on other cakes I’ve made before.
What type of pan did you use? My cake barley filled 2 very small 6 by 9 in rectangle pans! There is absolutely no way this recipe would fill 3 pans. How many times did you multiple the recipe to get the cake in the picture? That is not a standard 9 inch cake
Hi Allison, they were three 6-inch round cake pans as stated in the instructions (bullet #2 under the cake instructions). The cake recipe as written is exactly what I made. If I assume both of our cake pans are 2 inches tall, then the volume of one of yours is almost double the volume of one of mine, so I think this is where the discrepancy lies.
I was so excited to try this recipe so I baked it yesterday. It is inedible. The ganache is extremely sweet and the icing is like eating a spoonful of pumpkin flavored powdered sugar. The cake is dry and dense at the same time. Just a terrible waste of money and time. Sad because the flavor is actually very good