Gettin' My Chai Cake on.

So, it's been pretty cold/rainy/bleh over here in the Southern Hemi. It's winter time and I am thoroughly OVER IT! Logging into facebook and insta, I keep seeing marvelous pictures of summer enjoyment aka family beach days, icecreams & s'mores, that crystal clear water NC's been having. 

I'm over here like burrrrr. Waking up in our frosty house, dragging the space heater around like it's a drip feed, squeegee-ing off our un-insulated windows, and trying to squeeze any source of warmth I can from those summer photos y'all keep posting. 

One thing I really crave in the winter is a ginger-y, spice-y, warming type desserts served along with a homemade chai tea! 

jess lowcher: Chai spice cake 1

And that's exactly what I made this week. On Sunday, when we made our big shop, the plan was to attempt to whip up a batch of chai tea concentrate, which requires whole spices of cardamom, clove, fennel, and a few others.

So, that's exactly what I bought, whole spices

Mid-week the craving for spice cake kicked in and overpowered my common sense. BECAUSE, I don't have a spice grinder, pestle and mortar, or ANY OTHER TYPE OF BLENDING DEVICE. 

Common sense conscious: "Hmm whole spices vs. knife = HOURS of standing hunchback, slaving over those damn spices until they're small enough to bake with. Maybe, we should buy the ground versions . . .?"

Stubborn, hungry conscious: "But I'm too cheap for that and we've already got perfectly good spices here. Besides, it's raining outside and you've already made the switch to sweat pants and fluffy socks. Yea . . . you're not going anywhere".

Well, you can guess what side won and I spent about an hour or so twiddling away trying to get my spices small ENOUGH. 

It was a sad sight. There were some new dents put in the fake wood floor, dinner was put off until 9 (sorry Chris), but in the end I made that freaking spice cake DAMMIT!

I was committed! 

And I have to say, It was delicious! A labor of love, hell yes, but mmm yumm!! Goes GREAT with that homemade cup of Chai I made earlier in the week! 

jess lowcher: chai spice cake 2


So here's my recipe for chai spice cake with citrus sherbert frosting:







~15 pods of green cardamom (1 tsp of ground cardamom, but fresh is better)

~1 tblsn of fennel seed

~1/3 tsp of star anise

~1 tsp of mixed spice

Pinch of Salt

2 cups of AP Flour

1/2 cup of soft butter

1 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of baking soda 

1 cup of buttermilk

1 egg

1 cup of brown sugar 

1 tsp of vanilla



3 tblsns of sour cream

zest of half an orange

zest and juice of half a lemon

1 tblsn of vanilla

2-3 tblsns of powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Crush cardamom pods to remove seeds. Grind all spices however possible. You could use a pestle and mortar or spice grinder to make your life easier. (I started off placing all of my spices in a bag and banging the shit out of it with a heavy object. Then moved to just trying to crunch up the remaining large pieces with my knife). Ideally, you just don't want TOO large piece of any of the spices but some small chunks are ok. I actually found them quite pleasant, it upped the spice factor!
  2. Cream butter until about the consistency of mayo.  Again, you could use a food processor or electric beaters. Since I am poor and have neither I just used a whisk and took advantage of a chance to show off my guns to Chris. 
  3. Beat in sugar, then beat in egg. Beat until well combined
  4. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all your spices together. Mix well.
  5. Add vanilla into buttermilk and mix
  6. Fold in half dry mixture then half of buttermilk/vanilla. Repeat until dry mix and buttermilk have all been incorporated. 
  7. Place in greased muffin tins or cake pan and bake for approx 30 mins. 
  8. While cake is baking take this time to make the icing. Zest orange and lemon into a bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, sour cream, and powdered sugar. Then whisk until there are no lumps. You may want more powdered sugar depending on how you like your icing. I like mine no too too sweet and ended up using about 3 tblsns of powdered sugar. 
  9. Let cake cool completely before dumping on your desired amount of frosting.