This one was probably the only cake I’ve made that came from having a design that someone has requested and me trying to figure out how to recreate it best I can. I knew there have to be dehydrated coloured pears on the outside and chai as the main flavour. As it is my usual tendency to try and make desserts, and recipes in general, healthier than their usual variation, and sadly buttercream sharp edged cakes don’t really allow journeying into the healthier versions, nor do natural colourings work well with those, I here had a bit more freedom. The whole thing was a big experiment from start to finish and as per usual, because I can’t ever learn from past mistakes, I did not write the exact quantities down, so sadly this post can only serve as inspiration.
I decided to skip the artificial colours all together and colour the pears using only beetroot and turmeric – bringing two pots of sugar syrup to a boil, throwing a chopped beet into one and a couple of tablespoons of powdered turmeric into the other and adding sliced pears into the pots, slowly cooking until their colour started changing and them becoming slightly translucent. I let the pears to cool on a rack and then slowly baked them for around 3 hours on around 70 C (fan-forced), turning them around every 30min or so. I made these quite some days in advance as they can easily be stored in air-tight containers for weeks.
I wanted the cake to be a dense, almondy, chai infused sponge where I kept the sugar to the minimum. I really wanted to keep that chai flavour to the maximum so I infused a block of butter with sticky chai leaves – slowly melting and cooking the butter with a couple of teaspoons of chai and then keeping it in the fridge for a week. When I was ready to make the cake I simply melted it again and strained it.
Spelt flour, almond flour, some coconut sugar, soaked dates, soy milk (again slowly heated up infusing with chai leaves), a couple of eggs and the previously mentioned butter went into it as well as a pinch of salt and some baking powder.
There were two fillings enriching the sponge, first one was chopped pears cooked with a bit of maple syrup, soaked dates and some freshly brewed chai tea, for 30min or so until it all became nice and thick and caramely. This went generously onto each layer, covered with two spoons of crème fraiche and topped with some dark chocolate cream. For this one I used two blocks of 80% chocolate, a tub of mascarpone and some sour cream to make it rich and not overly sweet. Chocolate easily melted over water bath, cooled down and mixed with the creamy mascarpone and sour cream. I used this chocolate cream as the icing as well, before arranging the candied pears and some little edible flowers on it.
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Chai cake sounds delicious! I’ve found it works really well with carrot cake