Masala chai pecan bundt recipe by Tarunima Sinha | christmas food and drink

When I first celebrated Christmas here in the UK, I was amazed at how spices were used during the festive season. From gingerbread cookies and mulled wine to Christmas cakes.

Taking the masala spice mix from my parents’ kitchen and infusing it into a cake was my contribution to my in-laws’ Christmas table years ago, and it’s been a staple ever since.

Black cardamom and tea leaves give a light smoky flavor, but are not essential.

The cake is simple enough to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or served warm for dessert with some ginger ice cream or clotted cream. The cake keeps well for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

I like to bake this cake in a large pan, but you can also bake it in a round pan with a 20cm high side. If using a round tin, line the bottom with parchment paper after flouring and dusting the tin for easier unmold.

It serves 8-12
For the masala chai powder
green cardamom pods 10 (shelled)
black cardamom pods 2 integers (optional)
black peppercorns 10
cloves 8
cinnamon stick 5-6cm
fennel seeds 1 tablespoon
ground ginger powder 1 tablespoon
black tea leaves 1 tablespoon (optional, any loose leaf tea will work)

For the cake dough
butter 300gplus extra to line the tin
plain flour 350g
masala chai powder 3 tablespoons (see above)
baking powder 1½ tablespoon
sodium bicarbonate 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon
roasted nuts 100 gramscoarsely chopped
ginger stalk 5 ballscoarsely chopped (optional)
gold powdered sugar 150g
soft light brown sugar 150g
vanilla extract 1 tablespoon
eggs 5
sour cream 150g

For the masala chai powder, grind all the spices and tea leaves, if using, in a small spice grinder to a fine powder and set aside. This can be made ahead of time and stored in a small airtight container. It can also be doubled and stored for a month.

Preheat oven to 170C fan/gas mark 5. Using a pastry brush, butter pan well in even upward motions, then dust with all-purpose flour. Shake off any excess flour. The butter and flour should form a uniform film that covers the mold. Take the time to do this as it helps the cake slide off easily once baked.

Sift together the flour, masala chai powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture to the chopped pecans and ginger stem. Toss them lightly to coat. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom.

Beat the 300g butter and sugar using a stand mixer or hand mixer for 5-7 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the flour mixture and sour cream, adding each alternately in three batches and gently folding in after each addition, followed by the chopped walnuts and ginger.

Pour the prepared batter into the bundt pan. Give the can a strong tap to remove any air bubbles.

Bake on lower middle rack of oven for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert and turn out onto a cooling rack.

The unmolding time is crucial since when the cake is removed from the mold it crumbles sooner, since it is still quite hot. More than 15 minutes will cool the butter in the tin, making it more difficult to come out clean.

Once unmolded, let the cake cool for another 15 minutes.

If desired, you can sprinkle some of the chai masala mixture with toasted chopped nuts on top for garnish.

Tarunima Sinha owns cake delivery business My Little Cake Tin

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