Chai Spiced Mini Loaves with Cardamom Vanilla Icing

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Traveling India and Nepal, I became obsessed with Masala Chai. I traveled the two with a good friend of mine and since we were coming from Thailand, which has only three seasons; hot, hotter and hottest, the cold mountain air was welcomed with open arms and endless cups of masala chai.

In India they served it on the longer train rides in higher class cars and along the street sides in the morning. Perhaps a bit of a gamble from the streets, but a risk well worth taking.  In Nepal it was a breakfast staple for us. In the brisk mornings and cool evenings we drank masala chai in the quaint dirt floored cafes along Phewa Lake in Pokhara. Ever since that trip I’ve taken a liking to using it in whatever I can as my way of taking myself back to the Himilayas.

The word Chai actually just means tea, but we’ve come to use it when we’re actually talking about the spice mix that is masala. Garam masala to be exact. It’s a blend of black peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, brown cardamom, nutmeg, green cardamom or  some similar variation. When I first looked into this way back when, I was surprised at the black pepper. Who knew?

This recipe, after all that talk, doesn’t actually use masala! Oops. It does however capture a similar flavor. It’s subtle, sweet and spicy in all the right ways. I made mini loaves, but made one large loaf as well for comparison. They both turned out great. Enjoy!

CAKE BATTER:

2 c. flour

1 c. sugar

3 t. baking powder

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. ground cardamom

1/8 t. ground ginger

1/8 t. ground cloves

1 t. salt

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk or 1 c. milk + 1 T. white vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 t. vanilla extract

SWIRL FILLING

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1.4 t. ground cardamom

1/4 t. ground ginger

1/4 t. ground cloves

3 t. melted butter

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine the wet ingredients and gradually mix in dry ingredients.
  3. Grease and line a standard loaf pan or mini loaf moulds with parchment paper.
  4. Fill the loaf pan or mini moulds halfway.
  5. Make the filling by combining all ingredients together.
  6. For standard loaf pan: pour the filling on top of the batter and then pour the reaming batter on top of that.
  7. For mini moulds: drizzle 2 T. of the filling on the batter and then fill again until 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Bake for 50-55 minutes for a standard loaf pan or 20 minutes for mini loaves until you can pull a clean toothpick from the middle.

ICING

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 1/2 T. milk

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/8 t. ground cardamom

*sliced almonds for topping

  1. Mix the ingredients (minus the almonds) together until they form a paste the consistency of glue. You may have to add more sugar or milk depending on the result.
  2. Drizzle on top of the cooled loaf or loaves and let it fall down the sides.
  3. Top with sliced almonds.

 

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