Tart flecks of granny smith punctuate this sweet, spicy cake that pairs perfect with a mug of tea or coffee.
By Nik Sharma
This is a great everyday rustic cake made rich with tea, spices and apples, one you can certainly eat at anytime of the day, just like tea (you can even eat this with a cup of coffee). Instead of adding the spices to the tea (which is what one would do to make masala chai traditionally), I added freshly ground spices directly to the cake batter and prepared a reduction of the tea to concentrate the each of the flavors of the ingredients. Granny Smith apples are tart and they hold their shape during the baking process and you can taste the apples in every slice of cake that you bite into. Tea and apples are a wonderful combination in this cake and I am sure you will enjoy it.
As an option, you can also fold in 1/2 cup of raisins or walnuts to the cake batter towards the end when you add the apples.
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons tea leaves
- 1 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 2 cloves, freshly ground
- ½ inch cinnamon stick, freshly ground
- ¼ teaspoon star anise, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon butter for greasing the pan
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
- 2 large granny smith apples, grated
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1-2 teaspoons of confectioner's sugar, for dusting the cake
- Center a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F.
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the tea leaves to the water and continue to boil for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow the tea leaves to steep in the water for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid through a tea strainer into a clean cup and discard the leaves. Rinse the saucepan clean (to make sure there are no residual tea leaves left behind). Transfer the tea back into the saucepan and bring it back to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and reduce the liquid volume to approximately ¼ cup. At this stage remove the tea and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Whisk and blend all the ingredients from the flour to the star anise and keep aside.
- Line a round 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease evenly with the butter.
- Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed. Beat in one egg at a time to get a smooth and creamy cake batter. Add the cooled concentrated tea prepared earlier to the batter and mix completely.
- Add half of the whisked dry ingredients to the cake batter. Combine completely into the batter until no more flecks of flour can be seen. Stop the mixer and add the yogurt to the batter and beat gently on low speed until combined completely. Beat in the remaining flour until no more flecks of flour can be seen.
- Gently squeeze the liquid out of the grated apples between the palms of your hands and reserve two tablespoons of the juice. Toss the apples in the extra flour and fold in the grated apples and the reserved juice into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula and bake for 50-60 minutes in the oven. Half-way through the baking process, open the oven and rotate the cake pan to ensure even baking. The cake is completely baked when the center is firm to touch or when a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove the baked cake and allow it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack. Cool the cake completely to room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.
Nik Sharma is the cook, author and photographer behind "A Brown Table" and currently resides in Washington D.C. He is a self-taught cook that is constantly trying to infuse "exotic" spices and ingredients by learning different cooking techniques in day-to-day meals with the motto of keeping all cooking methods fun, simple and useful.