Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chai Masala Cake with Honey and Ginger Cheesecake Icing

With a sprinkle of ginger on the top.

It's getting rather chilly here now - snow, sleet, visible breath - so I thought it best to have a few folk over for some dinner to warm them (and my flat) up! Curry is my go to main so I baked a chai flavoured cake to go along with it. I made a version of this last year, but it didn't quite work - the icing was all runny and it felt a bit heavy. So this time I went for a Swiss meringue butter cream loaded with cream cheese for a tangy, fluffy and stable icing. Chai + ginger + honey x 4 = tasty cake in your mouth.

for the chai spice mix
4 cardamom pods, seeds out
- 7 cloves
- 10 black pepper corns
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 tblsp ground ginger
- pinch of ground star anise

for the cake
- 240g softened butter
- 240g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 240g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tea bag (I used Yorkshire tea)

for the Swiss meringue cheesecake icing
- 2 egg whites
- 70g sugar
- 200g room temp butter, cubed*
- 150g cream cheese, room temp*
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tblsp honey

*they need to be the same temperature or else one could chill the other = lumpy butter in the icing

Method: - First thing's first: make the spice mix. Heat a dry frying pan on a low heat and add all the whole spices. Keep swirling so they don't burn. Once they smell tasty, they're done. Tip in to a spice grinder/pestle and mortar and add the ground ginger and anise and finely grind.

- preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line two 20cm round sponge tins with baking paper. Stick on the kettle. Make a nice, strong cup of tea with 1/4tsp of the spice mix and 100ml water. Steep.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- Sift on the flour and baking powder and gently stir in, then beat for 10 seconds or so until fully incorporated. Add the rest of the spice mixture and the strong tea (sans bag), and mix well.
- Divide between the two tins and bake for 18 mins, check for done-ness if they need more time, give them some. Once baked, turn on to wire racks to cool.
Rustic...yes. That's what we'll call it.

- For the icing: Heat an inch or so of water in a small pan and simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl and set over the pan (do not allow the water to touch the bowl). Whisk gently by hand. You want to dissolve the sugar whilst gently cooking the egg. Once dissolved (check by rubbing some between your fingers) whisk faster. Remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk until the bowl has cooled and you have 
meringue. It takes a while.
- Once cooled, begin to add the butter, beating well as you go. The meringue will disappear, it will look like soup and or cottage cheese at varying points, but persevere. One all in, add the cream cheese in the same fashion.
- by now it should be more solid and looking like fluffy frosting. Add the ginger and the honey and stir well.
- Assemble! Cut each of the sponges in half so you have 4 (ideally the same size...I did not manage that). Place the first layer on a plate and spoon on 1/4 of the icing. Do the same with the rest. Sprinkle with a little more ginger and enjoy!

Light, fluffy, cheesecake-esque icing.

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