Yields9 ServingsTotal Time1 hr
AuthorNik Sharma

Oakland food writer and photographer Nik Sharma grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, and is known for his cross-cultural ways with Indian flavors. For this rustic, not-too-sweet cake, adapted from one in his 2018 cookbook Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food (Chronicle Books), he grinds Darjeeling tea leaves into the flour. It is excellent served with sweet, milky cups of actual chai. You can buy chai masala (tea spice mix) at Indian grocery stores, or make your own.

How to Make It

1

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-in. round baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

2

Grind tea leaves to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle or in a clean coffee grinder. In a large bowl, whisk tea with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai masala. Peel and core apples, then cut into 1/4-in. dice. Put in a medium bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. of the flour mixture.

3

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stop mixer, add flour mixture, and beat on low just until no streaks of flour are visible, about 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in apples.

4

Pour batter into prepared pan and level it with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating halfway through, until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out with some crumbs adhering, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around inside of pan to release cake, then invert onto rack, remove parchment, and cool completely.

5

Before serving, dust liberally with powdered sugar.

*Find chai masala at Indian grocery stores, or make your own: In a clean coffee grinder, whirl 10 green cardamom pods, 1 black cardamom pod (or use 2 whole green cardamom pods), 6 black peppercorns, 4 cloves, and a 2-in. cinnamon stick until finely ground. Add 1 tbsp. ground ginger and whirl to blend. Makes about 2 tbsp.

MAKE AHEAD Up to 3 days at room temperature, in an airtight container lined with a clean kitchen towel to absorb moisture.

Ingredients

Chai Masala
 10 green cardamom pods
 seeds from 1 black cardamom pod (or use 2 whole green cardamom pods)
 6 black peppercorns
 4 cloves
 1 2-in. cinnamon stick
 1 tbsp ground ginger
Cake
 ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed, plus more for pan
 2 tbsp loose-leaf Darjeeling or other black tea leaves
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 2 tsp baking powder
 ¼ tsp each baking soda and fine sea salt
 1 tbsp Chai Masala (above)
 2 large Fuji or Granny Smith apples
 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
 4 large eggs, at room temperature
 2 tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

1

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-in. round baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

2

Grind tea leaves to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle or in a clean coffee grinder. In a large bowl, whisk tea with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai masala. Peel and core apples, then cut into 1/4-in. dice. Put in a medium bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. of the flour mixture.

3

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stop mixer, add flour mixture, and beat on low just until no streaks of flour are visible, about 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in apples.

4

Pour batter into prepared pan and level it with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating halfway through, until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out with some crumbs adhering, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around inside of pan to release cake, then invert onto rack, remove parchment, and cool completely.

5

Before serving, dust liberally with powdered sugar.

*Find chai masala at Indian grocery stores, or make your own: In a clean coffee grinder, whirl 10 green cardamom pods, 1 black cardamom pod (or use 2 whole green cardamom pods), 6 black peppercorns, 4 cloves, and a 2-in. cinnamon stick until finely ground. Add 1 tbsp. ground ginger and whirl to blend. Makes about 2 tbsp.

MAKE AHEAD Up to 3 days at room temperature, in an airtight container lined with a clean kitchen towel to absorb moisture.

Apple Masala Chai Cake
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