Every weekend, I bake something bready with sourdough so my wife can eat it. (She’s not allergic, just sensitive to gluten.) But I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m complaining about having home-baked sourdough to eat. Every day. All day. So, I keep our freezer stocked with pizza crusts, loaves of crusty bread, and hot dog and hamburger buns. And I add in a rotation of things like bagels, soft pretzels, and biscuits.
As for sweet stuff, I’ll rarely bake up Libby’s Snickerdoodle Muffins, cinnamon buns or cookies. But cake? I tend to think of that as a celebration dessert. I’m not sure why, exactly. I mean cake is lovely isn’t it? Why wouldn’t I want to treat us with cake, whether it’s a special occasion or not? Recently, I literally woke up with an idea for a flavor combination for a layer cake. Perhaps the fact that my wife and I just enjoyed Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond had something to do with it. Though the book centers around weddings, not holidays, it’s a likely cause. And, after all, ‘tis the season, or close enough.
So, I looked up a few recipes, pulled together what I liked, made a few tweaks, added sourdough, and gave it a trial run. I had friends over for a slice. I took some to work. It was huge hit. The basic cake is Martha’s—tweaked. And tons of people have chai buttercream recipes. Choose one you like. My only suggestion is you whip it like 5-10 minutes longer than the recipe says. You won’t be sorry when you see those pillowy mounds of frosting.
Without further ado, here’s my new and improved recipe:
Orange Chai Cake
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment circle. Butter that, too.
Whisk together *2 c AP flour, 1 T baking powder, & ½ tsp salt. Set aside.
In standing mixer, with paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick unsalted butter, softened with 1 ½ c sugar on medium 1-2 minutes until combined. Scrape bowl.
Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat well, scraping bowl as necessary.
Reduce speed to low and alternately add:
• flour mix, beat until combined.
• *1 c milk, 2 T orange zest, & 1 tsp orange extract & beat until just combined.
• *Sourdough starter
(*sourdough starter add in: ½ cup starter – take out ¼ c flour and ¼ c milk)
Divide between pans, smooth tops. (tap out bubbles)
Bake until golden and toothpick comes out of center clean - 33-35 mins.
Let cool 15 mins before turning out onto wire racks. Peel off parchment circle. While it cools, make an orange simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, and strips of the rind of 1 orange, boiled until sugar dissolves). Use the liquid as a cake soak. This keeps it moist and adds to the general yum factor.
Frost with a chai buttercream of your choice. In mine, I added both orange and vanilla extracts.
If you want inspiration beyond Dumond’s book for your own baking, I have a couple of suggestions. The Great British Baking Show (GBBS) has been a favorite of mine since way back when season one first became available here. So when I heard about The Sticky Buns Boys on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, (which if you haven't checked out yet, you must!) I had to listen to them right away. Whether you watch GBBS too, or just want to hear a couple of hilariously raunchy gay boys dish on baking, their take on the recent GBBS episode is sure to please. And may just inspire your next flavor combination.
I highly recommend you add cake to your life. In the middle of the week. For no special reason other than it’s delicious. Because, cake.
Let me know what cake flavor combinations you love. And if you try the recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out!