Dirty chai ombre cake

Inspired by the dirty chai (a masala chai latte with a shot of espresso), this showstopping cake boasts layers of chai ganache and chocolate ombre sponge


  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 or loose-leaf chai 1 tbsp chai tea bag, see notes below
  • 200g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 375ml whole milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • 3 or loose-leaf chai 3 tbsp chai tea bags
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 40g plain flour
  • 350g butter, really soft
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 345g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 345g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 295g self-raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder



    1. For the ganache, put the cream and tea bag into a small pan and bring gently to a simmer. Cover and set aside for about 30 minutes to infuse. Put the chocolate into a bowl and set a fine sieve on top. Bring the cream back to a simmer and pour through the sieve to remove the tea bag. Stir the two together to form a smooth ganache. Put in the fridge until chilled.
    2. To make the frosting, put the milk, cream, tea bags, espresso powder and 2 tbsp of the caster sugar into a large pan and bring gently to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and set aside for 1 hour to infuse. Bring this mixture back to a simmer then pour through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on the tea bags to extract as much flavour as possible. Put the mixture back into the pan along with the remaining sugars and the flour. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, whisking constantly, or until the consistency of thick custard. Scrape from the pan into a bowl and press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface to prevent a skin forming.
    3. Once chilled, put into a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat together to loosen. Slowly beat in the butter a little at a time until a buttercream texture has formed. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to combine.
    4. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and line 3 x 20cm deep, springform cake tins with baking paper.
    5. To make the cake layers, put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, cream together for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully combined before adding the next. Once all the eggs have been added, divide the mixture equally between three large bowls. To one bowl add 115g self-raising flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder. To the second bowl add 100g self-raising flour, 15g cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp baking powder. To the final bowl add the remaining 80g self raising flour, remaining 35g cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp baking powder. Stir each mixture until a smooth batter is formed, then spread each into the prepared cake tins.
    6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean, or they spring back to a light touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
    7. To assemble, put the darkest chocolate cake onto a plate and top with 1/2 the ganache, spreading a thin layer of frosting on top of that. Repeat with the second chocolate cake and finish by placing the plain cake on top. Spread the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of the cake. This cake will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container