As far back as I can remember, I've always drunk more tea than coffee though this eventually changed with grad school (many hours of test preps necessitated caffeine). Tea or chai is served at almost every meal in Indian cuisine and in some instances even after a meal. Chai can be drunk plain with or without milk, sweetened or unsweetened but my favorite way to drink tea is when the liquid is infused with a concoction of spices giving it a delicious aromatic fragrance and warm flavor. Masala chai or spiced tea can be made in so many different ways, my mother likes hers with a little freshly grated ginger root , sometimes she might add in a few crushed cardamom pods and if she is feeling extra adventurous, then she'll toss in both. My favorite version of chai involves a few more spices to her mix, I like to throw in a little cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and star anise, to give it a bit of a spicier taste. When it comes to selecting tea leaves for preparing the brew, I personally prefer to use whole loose black tea leaves from Assam, the flavor and color are much more richer and darker, Darjeeling black tea is another good option.
I can hardly keep up with what most days or months represent, so this is truly a complete coincidence, that I have an apple cake recipe for you during September, the national month of apples. There are so many different kinds of delicious and colorful varieties of apples available today that can be used specifically for different things. My favorite are the Red delicious and Granny Smith apples, though I will probably sink my teeth into any apple that is crispy. Yeah, I guess I am a crispiness snob when it comes to apples, the joy of biting into a crispy apple while the sweet juice trickles off your fingers is simple and pure perfection!
This is a great everyday rustic cake made rich with tea, spices and apples, one you can certainly eat at anytime of the day, just like tea (you can even eat this with a cup of coffee). Instead of adding the spices to the tea (which is what one would do to make masala chai traditionally), I added freshly ground spices directly to the cake batter and prepared a reduction of the tea to concentrate the each of the flavors of the ingredients. Granny Smith apples are tart and they hold their shape during the baking process and you can taste the apples in every slice of cake that you bite into. Tea and apples are a wonderful combination in this cake and I am sure you will enjoy it.
As an option, you can also fold in 1/2 cup of raisins or walnuts to the cake batter towards the end when you add the apples.
Do check out some of my favorite apple recipes,
masala chai apple cake
yields: 6-8 servings/ one 9 inch cake
1 cup water
4 tablespoons black tea leaves ( I used Darjeeling)
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) plain all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon (for coating the grated apples)
1 cup ( 4 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 cloves, freshly ground
1/2 inch cinnamon stick, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon star anise, freshly ground
1 teaspoon butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + extra butter to grease baking pan
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and grated (you should get approximately 1-1 1/2 cups of squeeze grated fruit pulp)
1-2 teaspoons of confectioner's sugar, for dusting the cake
1. Center a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the tea leaves to the water and continue to boil for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow the tea leaves to steep in the water for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid through a tea strainer into a clean cup and discard the leaves. Rinse the saucepan clean (to make sure there are no residual tea leaves left behind). Transfer the tea back into the saucepan and bring it back to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and reduce the liquid volume to approximately 1/4 cup. At this stage remove the tea and leave to cool to room temperature.
3. Whisk and blend all the ingredients from the flour to the star anise and keep aside.
4. Line a round 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease evenly with the butter.
5. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed. Beat in one egg at a time to get a smooth and creamy cake batter. Add the cooled concentrated tea prepared earlier to the batter and mix completely.
6. Add half of the whisked dry ingredients to the cake batter. Combine completely into the batter until no more flecks of flour can be seen. Stop the mixer and add the yogurt to the batter and beat gently on low speed until combined completely. Beat in the remaining flour until no more flecks of flour can be seen.
7. Gently squeeze the liquid out of the grated apples between the palms of your hands and reserve two tablespoons of the juice. Toss the apples in the extra flour and fold in the grated apples and the reserved juice into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula and bake for 50-60 minutes in the oven. Half-way through the baking process, open the oven and rotate the cake pan to ensure even baking. The cake is completely baked when the center is firm to touch or when a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove the baked cake and allow it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack. Cool the cake completely to room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.