Chai Cake with Apples celebrates the flavors of fall. The warm spices, tart apples and soft texture all come together beautifully to create a heavenly dessert. You can make it ahead and it's perfect for a crowd!
Baking Chai Cake with Apples will make your whole house take on the scent of warm and cozy deliciousness.
I've been making this cake every fall for almost a decade, and it's always a huge hit.
Aside from the amazing flavors, part of what makes this such an incredible cake is that it's a bundt cake. The shape of the bundt pan enables a thin crust to form over a greater surface of the cake than regular pans. So almost every bite is a mixture of soft and crisp.
Do you love chai tea lattes and crisp fall apples?
Then you will absolutely adore this Chai Cake!
Ingredients for Chai Cake
(The following ingredients are for the cake and glaze. They are divided in the recipe card below.)
- apples (see apple variety suggestions below) - I used a combination of Granny Smith and Fuji in this recipe. Granny Smiths are very tart, and Fujis are a bit sweeter. Both are quite crisp and hold their shape well in the cake. Select apples that are firm without bruising on the skin.
- ground cardamom
- ground cinnamon
- ground ginger
- ground cloves
- freshly ground black pepper
- unsalted butter - It's best to bake and cook with unsalted butter to better control exactly how much salt is in the recipe.
- pure vanilla extract - I like this one.
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- salt - I bake and cook with Kosher salt. (It’s coarse and salts ingredients in a subtle way that enhances their flavor without making them taste salty.)
- powdered sugar
How to Make it
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a bundt pan with 2 teaspoons of melted butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix until well combined.
- Add the eggs and vanilla with the remaining melted butter. Whisk until smooth. Add apple slices and mix just to incorporate them evenly. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and fold to blend.
- Pour the batter into the buttered bundt pan and bake in the 350°F preheated oven until the cake no longer jiggles, is lightly browned, and is beginning to crack on top. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then use a cooling rack to invert it, and place it on a foil-lined sheet pan. - Make the glaze by melting butter in a small saucepan with water, powdered sugar and spices. Whisk until it's smooth, pour it into a glass measuring cup and drizzle it over the cake, a little bit at a time. Let it seep into the cake and then add more.- Slice and serve.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- The cake should still be warm when you add the glaze. It will absorb it much better this way. Drizzle it bit by bit to ensure it seeps deep into the cake. It might seem like there's too much glaze, but after each bit seeps in, drizzle more, until it's gone. You will have extra glaze on the foil below the cake -- you can use a rubber spatula to add this to the cake too.
- Gluten-free? This recipe has also been tested with Cup4Cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour and it works very well.
Can you make it ahead?
You can make this cake ahead! Here are some options . . .
One day ahead. Once it's cooled do not glaze it. Rather, wrap it tightly, keep it at room temperature, warm it slightly, and glaze it just before serving.
Three days ahead. Once it's cooled do not glaze it. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. Remove it from the refrigerator early the day you want to serve it, keeping it out at room temperature. Warm it slightly, and glaze just before serving.
Four days and up to two weeks ahead. Once it's cooled do not glaze it. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it. Remove it from the freezer the day before you want to serve it, keeping it out at room temperature. Warm it slightly, and glaze just before serving.
What is Chai?
- Chai is the generic word for tea in Hindi, and it's a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. The combination of spices for Chai can vary greatly.
- Traditional ingredients for Chai typically include black tea mixed with strong spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.
- These spices are commonly used without the tea in all sorts of both sweet and savory recipes, like this delectable fall Chai Cake with Apples.
What are the best apples for baking?
The best apples for baking keep their shape and structure, without becoming mushy when heat is applied. Here are a few varieties that will do just that:
- Granny Smith
- Pink Lady
Note that the glaze doesn't sit on top of the cake -- as I mentioned, it seeps deep inside, making every bite even more scrumptious! And it doesn't really soften the outer, thin crust, so you still get all sorts of delicious textures.
Chai Apple Cake would be as lovely for brunch as it would be after dinner for dessert. Just imagine it with a perfect cup of coffee!
I hope you love it as much as I do!
More sweet apple recipes:
- Red Wine Poached Crimson Gold Apples
- Ginger Applesauce Recipe From my Mom
- Cinnamon Apple Butter with Cardamom
- Hazelnut Honey Roasted Apples
- Spiced Apple Persimmon Cake
Chai Cake with Apples Recipe
For the cake
- 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups Fuji or Granny Smith apples (about 3 apples), peeled and thinly sliced (about ⅛-inch thick)
For the glaze
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
For the cake
- Set the oven and prepare the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a pastry brush to grease a bundt pan with the 2 teaspoons of the melted butter.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix until well combined. Make a small well in the center and set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients and apples. Add the remaining 1 cup of melted butter to another mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the apple slices and mix just to incorporate them evenly.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Pour the wet apple mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Fold to blend. This is a thick batter, so you might need to use your hands for this part, and many of the apple slices might break -- that's okay!
- Pour batter into the pan and bake. Add the batter to the buttered bundt pan and bake in the 350°F preheated oven until the cake no longer jiggles, is lightly browned, and is beginning to crack on top -- about 50 minutes. (If you're not sure if it's done, stick a long wooden skewer in the cake -- if it comes out clean, or almost clean, the cake is done.)
- Cool. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then use a cooling rack to invert it, and place it on a foil-lined sheet pan.
For the glaze
- Combine ingredients. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the water, sugar and spices, and use a whisk to mix until it's smooth.
- Add the glaze to the cake and serve. Drizzle the glaze over the cake while it's still warm, a little bit at a time. Some will seep into the cake, and some will drip down the sides and into the center, falling onto the foil. Let it sit for a few minutes and repeat this process at least twice more. You can use a spoon to scoop up the glaze from the foil and drizzle it over the cake again. (Anything left after this can be saved for an ice cream topping.) Slice and serve!
Beautiful - what a perfect fall cake!!!
I have to say that I'm one of the lucky ones who've had the pleasure of receiving (and eating!) a slice of this cake from Valentina herself. It is absolutely deeelish! My 8 year old son loved it too. I can't wait to make my own! Thanks Valentina!
Thank YOU, Shara! More treats to come! 😉
Colette @ JFF!
Gorgeous! I love bundts, esp apple bundts.
Thanks so much, Colette! 😀
Nancy Rose Eisman
Oh my gosh, I must have some of that cake. Beautiful post!
Nancy, you are so sweet -- thank you.
Thank you, Cathy! I will hop over to your TGIF Link Party now. 🙂
Why grapeseed oil? Can you substitute other fats?
I like using grapeseed oil for this because it's essentially flavorless, and I really wanted the spices to shine. Other fats would works as well, though. Enjoy! 🙂
This is wonderful. I love chai and I made it for our neighborhood eclipse viewing party in the morning. I did have to cook it for 70 minutes. I must have used too many apple slices. Fortunately the top still turned out just right. I'm actually baking a second one and put in fewer apples but it still needs about an hour, I think.
You've made my day. (And this makes up for me not getting my eclipse glasses and not looking at it.) Thank you for making my cake and sharing it with neighbors -- that's what cooking is all about. Enjoy! XO
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
If you've made this for almost a decade, then I know it has got to be good! Plus, it looks AMAZING! I can only imagine how lovely the house must smell as this bakes - so much better than any scented candle 😉 Pinned and can't wait to try! Happy Friday, my friend!
Thank you, Dawn! And yes, the house -- and if you leave a window open -- the street, smell so delicious! 🙂 ~Valentina
Kelly | Foodtasia
Valentina, this cake is so gorgeous! Love all the apples in it! And that glaze - wowwww!
Thanks, Kelly!! Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂
David Scott Allen
Thank you for sharing this gem! I love apple cakes of all sorts and can’t wait to try this one! And with the chai flavoring - wowser!
Thanks, David. I LOVE baking with apples as we enter fall. Of course I'm sure it's still super hot where your are, since LA is stil in the 80's. 🙂 Enjoy. ~Valentina
So gladly pinning and sharing this beauty !
Thank you! 😀
Apple cakes are one of my favorite treats, yours looks wonderful and I love the chai flavor.
Thanks so much! Hope you try and love it! 🙂 ~Valentina
David @ Spiced
One of my favorite things about this season is the warming smell of apples baking with a whole array of delicious spices! This cake is absolutely calling my name, Valentina. I would totally go for a slice right now with my morning cup of coffee. In fact, maybe I'll have to make that happen one of these days soon. We're in the midst of apple season up here! 🙂
I love the apple + spices mix of aromatics, too. SO good! 🙂 Thanks so much, David!
I adore apple desserts ... ok, how about apples in general? And this cake.... this is exactly what I want after a meal of a warming soup! This reminds me of the desserts I had in the Alsace - love, love the combination of spices!!!
Love that this bring your mind to France! I love apple season, too. 🙂
Yummy cake! The only comment/caution I have is that the recipe makes a ton of glaze and I made the mistake of putting too much on it. I ended up with the bottom of the cake getting soggy and falling off. It was still delicious. Totally my fault.
Thanks so much, Eileen. I really appreciate this comment. Yes, there is a lot of glaze -- you're totally right. I will make for of a note about that in the recipe. I'm so happy you thought it was delicious and I hope you have a lovely weekend. 🙂 ~Valentina
What a fabulous recipe! My favorite part is the sweet glaze, oh my!
Thanks, Christina. Enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina