I’ve recently found Pinterest and have been enjoying flicking through lots of cupcake pictures in search of inspiration. I’d been asked to make cakes for a colleague’s birthday - I’m known for my cupcakes but I wanted to have a go at something a bit more unusual than the standard lemon / orange / red velvet. The idea of chai latte cupcakes caught my interest and so I flicked through a few webpages in search of recipes. There weren’t many UK recipes around and so I decided to make it up, basing it on a Earl Grey recipe in my ever-reliable Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book.
I followed the recipe, substituting Earl Grey teabags for chai teabags but also adding in a teaspoon of cinnamon, two-thirds of a teaspoon of cardamom, quarter of a teaspoon of cloves and half a teaspoon of nutmeg. I think this was too much spice! The cakes were very strongly scented and spiced! I was planning to top the cupcakes with a cinnamon buttercream, but as they were rather highly spiced anyway, I decided to balance the flavour a little by topping with a simple vanilla buttercream.
These cupcakes really split opinion – some people loved them (the birthday girl’s husband thought they were the best cakes ever!), while others really weren’t sure. This could be purely down to the chai tea flavour, which is fairly controversial anyway! I love spice but even for me, I found the spicing a bit much. In the recipe below, I have suggested less spice than I used, as this is what I will try next time – the choice is up to you!
I was planning to decorate with something a bit more intricate but I ran out of time (having also made the amazing carrot, pistachio and coconut cake, and mini lemon layer cakes on this day!), so I went for simple piped flowers. To keep it simple, I piped the cream roses first. Then, I added pink food colour to the remaining buttercream and piped the pink flowers. Finally, I added violet food colour to the remaining buttercream and piped the violet flowers. I left the cupcakes for about an hour to allow the buttercream to set and then gave them a quick spray with pearl lustre spray, which gives a fab shiny finish.
People are always amazed by rose swirls on cakes and cupcakes but they are really not that difficult to do. This is a good photo tutorial and there are lots of film clips on YouTube. To be honest, the main things are getting the consistency of the buttercream right, a Wilton 2D piping nozzle, steady pressure on the icing bag and lots of practice! The other flowers were piped very simply with a Wilton 1M piping nozzle – just lots of little stars piped one by one around and on top of each other.
Chai latte cupcakes (single batch of 12 cupcakes)
- 175ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
- 4 Chai tea bags
- 110g butter, at room temperature
- 225g golden castor sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125g self-raising flour, sifted
- 120g plain flour, sifted
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp cardamon
- 110g butter, at room temperature
- 60ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 500g icing sugar, sifted
- Food colouring (preferably a paste rather than a liquid)
- Heat 125ml milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it just begins to boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the tea bags.
- Cover with clingfilm and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes.
- Discard the tea bags and add the extra 50ml of milk.
- Preheat oven to 160C/350F/GM4.
- Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (this will take at least 5 minutes with an electric hand mixer – don’t rush this stage).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition. Add a level tablespoon of the plain flour with each egg. It should result in a lovely light mousse-like mixture.
- Combine the rest of the plain flour with the self-raising flour and all of the spices in a separate bowl.
- Add one third of the flours to the creamed mixture and stir gently to combine.
- Pour in one third of the infused milk and stir gently.
- Continue to add flours and then milk mixture alternately, stirring gently after each addition, until all have been added.
- Spoon mixture into the cupcake cases, filling to about 2/3 full.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until lightly golden brown. The cakes will spring back lightly when touched, if cooked.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in tin for about 10 minutes, before carefully placing on a wire rack to finish cooling.
While the cakes are in the oven, make up the buttercream:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar until smooth.
- Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.