Masala Chai Pumpkin Cake


Nik Sharma

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Masala Chai Pumpkin Cake

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We’re a few days away from Halloween. And I’ve baked this masala chai pumpkin cake for West Elm that has a good dose of pumpkin seeds and crystallized ginger bits embedded in it. I’ve also plastered this cake with a spiced maple syrup buttercream frosting and adorned it with fondant black cats all over to make it spooky. You could even serve this at Thanksgiving and leave out the cats and get creative and make a border of pumpkins if you have a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter.

Happy baking and Happy Halloween!!!

  • Yield: 14 servings


1 Tbsp unsalted butter to grease the cake pans

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp black tea leaves (like Darjeeling), ground to a fine powder

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1.5 oz chopped crystallized ginger

5 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

One 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 ¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil

For the spiced maple buttercream frosting:

2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

¾ cup maple syrup

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

For the fondant cats:

1 to 1 ½ cups black fondant

witch cat cookie cutter


Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two 8 in by 3 in/20 cm by 7.5 cm circular pans with parchment paper and grease with a little butter.

Dry whisk the flour, ginger, ground tea, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the flour and add it to a medium bowl with the pumpkin seeds and ginger and toss to coat evenly; keep aside until ready to use.

Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium-high for about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl down. Then slowly add the sugars and continue to whisk for about 4 minutes until the mixture is thick. Then reduce the speed to low and whisk in the pumpkin puree in two installments until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl down after each addition. Add the oil slowly in a steady stream and continue to whisk on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl down.

Add the sifted dry ingredients in two installments and whisk until there are no visible flecks of flour. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the pumpkin seeds and ginger. Divide the batter (about 6 cups in total) between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, rotating them halfway through baking. The cakes will be firm to touch in the center, and a skewer will come out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then release the cake by running a knife along the edges and transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze them in airtight Ziploc bags for up to 1 month until ready to use.

For the frosting:

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for about 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low speed until smooth and thoroughly combined. You can prepare this a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator before using; remember to let it soften for about 30 minutes at room temperature on the kitchen counter before applying it to the cake.

Assembling the cake:

Unwrap the cooled cakes. Trim the tops off the cakes and level them using a sharp serrated knife. Place one cake on a cake stand and then spread about 1 to ½ cups of frosting on top using an offset spatula to form a layer of even height. Place the second cake on top. Apply a thin coat of the frosting all over the cake to create a crumb coat and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Coat the cake with the remaining buttercream frosting using the offset spatula.

For the fondant cats:

Knead the fondant to make it pliable, then roll it out on a clean and smooth surface to about 1/8 in/4 mm thickness. Using the cat cookie cutter, cut out as many cats as you need to line the sides of the cake to form a single border. Carefully place them on the side of the cake to create a border (it will stick easily to the buttercream). Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. This cake can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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