The other day I felt snacky (which happens a lot these days in quarantine), so I decided to get the kitchen party started and whipped up a completely improvised Chai Spice Cake. I honestly didn’t expect the outcome to be something to write home about (let alone dedicating a blog post to it), as it was such an experiment. But when I pulled the steaming hot cake out of the oven and took that first bite, I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious! And it felt sooo good in my tummy, because the recipe is completely vegan, gluten-free and Ayurvedic.
I shared a photo of the cake in my Instagram story and a bunch of people asked me for the recipe. Sharing is caring, which is why I decided to write it down below for you all to try it yourselves! The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s open for alterations. You can really get creative and play with the flavors and ingredients, making sure that it’s the right balance for your doshas. So it not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but also nourishes your body and mind (guilt-free cake party, anyone?).
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHAI
The word “chai” originally means “tea”, hence in India they don’t drink “chai lattes”, but masala chai (which translates to “spiced tea”). Masala chai dates back thousands of years and the blend is said to be invented by a king in an ancient royal court as a cleansing Ayurvedic beverage. The original recipe has evolved significantly over the years, for example due to the arrival of the British black tea plantations in India and the adding of milk. As the Indian spicy tea recipe spread its wings and flew over to the West, the Americans did not only come up with drastic variations to the recipe over time (all the way to the super hyped-up Starbucks chai latte most of us know today), the name “masala chai” shifted to “chai” and “chai tea” (yes, this translates to “tea tea”).
So if I were to be more accurate, I should actually call this cake a Masala Cake. But that reminds me of garam masala, which is mostly used in savoury dishes and therefore might be a bit misleading. So Chai Spice Cake it is. Or I guess you could also call it a Yogi Cake. I’m open to suggestions if you have any 😉
WHAT IS CHAI SPICE?
Chai spice is a blend of a number of spices: cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Depending on the preference of one’s tastebuds, you can either make the blend more heavy on cinnamon and cardamom for a sweeter taste, or you can make it more pungent by adding more ginger. I prefer to use more cinnamon and cardamom, especially for this cake recipe.
CARDAMOM: QUEEN OF SPICES
The main spice used for this recipe is cardamom, AKA “The Queen of Spices”. Cardamom gives this tasty treat its distinct, sweet and slightly pungent flavor. In the world of Ayurveda, cardamom is an important spice (hence the OG nickname) used not only in lots of recipes for foods and beverages, but also for medicinal purposes. Cardamom is one of those Ayurvedic spices known for its wonderful health benefits. It’s tridoshic, meaning that it balances all three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Cardamom has warming and calming qualities. According to Ayurveda, cardamom also helps reduce the accumulation of ama (toxins that block normal circulation in the body, reduce energy levels and are the main cause of illness and disease), because of its detoxifying effects. It helps reduce Kapha in the lungs and stomache (such as congestion and mucous), stimulates Pitta (by promoting a healthy metabolism) and pacifies Vata, which can cause anxiety when out of balance. It is also said that this “Queen of Spices” can heat things up in the bedroom, as it is praised by Ayurveda to be an aphrodisiac (again – cardamom cake party, anyone?).
HOW TO MAKE CHAI SPICE CAKE
So without further ado, it’s time to put our bake faces on and start baking this beauty (… can someone please stop me from talking like this?). Below you’ll find the recipe of my delicious and wholesome vegan & GF Chai Spice Cake AKA “Yogi Cake”.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup organic rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom OR 5-6 seed pods
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- small piece of grated fresh ginger to taste
- 1 teaspoon baking soda OR 2-3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan or sea salt
- 1 cup pitted dates (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 min, then drain well)
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar OR raw cane sugar OR 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive OR coconut oil
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other plant-based milk)
- 1/2 orange (juice and zest)
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
- Grease a 24 cm (8-inch) round cake pan (you can also line it with parchment paper).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, sugar, baking soda/powder and salt. Add the oil, plant-based milk and whisk or stir until combined. Finely grate the orange zest (as much as you find tasty) and squeeze the juice out of the orange into the mixture.
- In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse the dates and oats until they are in small pieces. Add them to the mixture in the bowl and whisk or stir until everything is well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out for even baking.
- Place in the oven on the center rack and bake for about 25-30 min, or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, do a little dance while keeping an eye on the cake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit undisturbed for about 10 min. Then slice, serve and enjoy!
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is open for alterations. If you dislike the taste of ginger, then use it in the smallest quantity or not at all. If you like it more sweet, add more dates, sugar or maple syrup. Just make sure that you don’t use honey as a sweetener for cooking – this is an absolute no-no according to Ayurveda. When heated or cooked, honey becomes very difficult to digest and creates ama in the body.
Flours: wheat or gluten-free?
You can use any type of gluten-free flour, for example almond or coconut flour. Of course, if you don’t mind the gluten, any type of flour will do, like spelt or whole wheat, but make sure it’s organic and non GMO (nowadays the quality of factory farmed wheat is very poor and bad for your health in the long run). It is also good to know that not everyone has to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. Gluten is not bad for everyone. In fact, wheat is actually recommended for airy Vata and fiery Pitta types – unless you have a low or weak Agni (digestive power) that needs to be treated. But if you are watery Kapha, it is indeed best to stay away from wheat and opt for gluten-free.