Last week, I gave you a recipe for snickerdoodles — this week, a chai-spiced chocolate layer cake. Prior to making this cake, while visiting my cousin in California a couple of weeks ago, I had never really tried to make a layer cake. Part of it was fear and part of it was the fact that I didn’t really have an appropriate occasion for one. You could argue that I had no particular occasion to make this cake either — my cousin and I just wanted to do some baking projects together and since neither of us had baked layer cakes, we decided making a three-layer cake was worth a try.
The majority of this recipe comes from The Stay at Home Chef’s aptly named “The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipe.” We probably didn’t really need to change that recipe at all to do what we wanted to do, but we did want to add some extra flavors to the mix and so we went with the spices you find in masala chai (or really in all kinds of baked goods this time of year). Keep in mind that there is no actual tea in this cake; it’s just got a flavor reminiscent of the aforementioned chai.
Anyway, while we shared the burden of baking (with my cousin doing a lot of the mixing!), we learned that it isn’t really so impossible to bake a cake of this nature. You’re just making three pans of cake, then mixing up the frosting while those layers bake and once everything has sufficiently cooled down, you’re all set to slather the chocolate cream cheese frosting all over the chocolate cake. It requires a little bit of time and care but it’s not impossible.
The end result is a flavorful, moist cake that is perfect for a celebration. Or if you’re like us, you’ll find yourself driving over to people’s houses to share a slice or two of cake in an effort not to overindulge. (I personally wound up packing a slice that traveled back with me to New York on a plane).
Whether you make this as a last-minute indulgent dessert right before Christmas or choose to save it for another day, consider this my holiday gift to you all. I’ll be back with a Rad Reads post before the end of the year, but the recipes will return in January!
- Butter and flour to coat and dust the pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground/crushed cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil (we used avocado)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 7-8 cups powdered sugar
- about 1/4 cup milk (as needed)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- 2. Butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and shake out the abundant amount.
- 3. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) on low speed until combined.
- 4. Add the eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil and vanilla to the mix, then beat on medium speed until smooth.
- 5. Distribute the batter evenly among the three pans.
- 6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until each layer of cake meets the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean).
- 7. Cool the cake-filled pans on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks, so they can cool completely.
- 8. Frost the cake using the chocolate cream cheese buttercream frosting below and dig in when you're ready.
- 1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy (either in a stand mixer or using a hand mixer and large bowl).
- 2. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract, then beat until they're combined.
- 3. Next, beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Incorporate the milk gradually to give it a spreadable consistency. The frosting will be pretty thick (and it does thicken more once refrigerated).
- Just barely adapted from "The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake" by the Stay At Home Chef.
We listened to Cake while frosting the cake, so now I’m suggesting that you listen to Cake as well. While this song is more about loving another human being, I think it can be fairly applicable to our relationship with self-indulgent desserts. Don’t think about it. Just embrace the cake, and enjoy a good tune with a good beat you can dance to while you’re at it.