Chai spiced honey cake

Chai spiced honey cake



This recipe is out of one of my favourite recipe books, A Neoclassic View of Plated Desserts, a whole book devoted to completely amazing and decadent desserts. I cooked my final for my chef training out of this book and over the years have been slowly meandering my way through it.

I would eat this cake anytime, actually I eat most cakes whenever I can! But in New Zealand Easter represents the transition of summer to autumn, hence the pears. This might not be so applicable to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere so maybe you might like to substitute the pears for something more seasonal – I think stone fruit would go nicely, or even strawberries (I’m drooling at the thought of it).

The original recipe calls for Poire William (a pear liqueur) in the mousse, but I dislike this so I used the cooking liquor from the fruit which in my opinion was way yummier. Although you could easily substitute it for appropriate flavoured schnapps if so desired. The mousse needs a while to set so either make it 3-4 hours beforehand or the day before. Chai is a spiced variety of black tea readily available from your local supermarket.


makes 6-7 small cakes
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup strongly brewed chai tea
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup honey (the recipe calls for chestnut but I just used liquid honey)
150g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk, at room temp

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp gelatine, bloomed*
3 tbsp cooking liquor from pears (or the fruit of choice)
Pinch of salt
570g mascarpone cheese

6 large bosch pears, ripe but slightly firm (or an alternative seasonal fruit)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
125ml dry white wine

* Bloomed powdered gelatine means that it has been softened or dissolved in water. I usually find that hot water works best. For two teaspoons of gelatine I would mix three teaspoons of boiling water with it until completely dissolved


1. Preheat oven to 190ºC.
2. Sift together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.
3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined.
4. Pour the batter into a well greased 23cm x 33cm cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is set and a skewer comes out clean. Immediately invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely.

1. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on high speed until you can pull out the beaters and draw an 8 on the surface which remains but slightly loses definition. It’ll take a while, roughly 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place the sugar in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover. Let it come to a rolling boil, once the bubbles slow remove from stove and carefully (and slowly!) pour into egg yolks mixing on a medium speed.
3. Add the bloomed gelatine to the egg mixture. Add the cooking liquor and salt and continue to whip until cool.
4. Add the mascarpone and whip on medium speed to medium peaks, being careful not to over whip. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

1. Peel and core the pears and cut them into eighths. In a large sauté pan , caramelize the sugar. Add the pears and lemon juice.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine. Simmer over a low heat until the pears are soft. Reserve cooking liquor for mousse.

To serve
Cut the cake into eight circles (7.6cm) and then cut a 2.5cm circle from the centre of each. Fill the hole in the cake with the mousse. Then carefully arrange pear slices on top to suit (I used 5 to 6 slices on each). Place a small quenelle** of mousse on the pears and drizzle any remaining cooking liquor over the top.
** Quenelle are neat little three-sided ovals shaped using two spoons (dessert spoons are best). I find it is best to dip the spoons in hot water and completely dry them before forming each quenelle.

20 thoughts on “Chai spiced honey cake”

  • What an absolutely beautiful dessert, gorgeous post and a book that I wish I had now! I love the inpsired favours in this dessert. The pictures are fab!! I’m already beginning to think strawberries or then stone fruit. Thanks for posting the recipe!! Glad I saw this at FG!

  • i LOVE the spices in chai, and i think you’ve made them even more complimentary by pairing them with pears. paired with pears. ha. 🙂

  • These look absolutely wonderful. Exactly the type of thing I crave to have with coffee or hot tea. The mascarpone cream sounds perfect with the pears too. Oh, and to Adam: nice photography! That pear photo is really good.

  • Thanks for all of your lovely comments, the cakes really are delicious, hope you all get a chance to make them. I highly recommend the book they come from too, so many inspiring recipes, each one comes from a pastry chef and all are divine.



  • I am just about to try this recipe at home, it is quite a challenge as I’m just a home cook. Can you please clarify what I have to do when it says “caramelise the sugar” when sauteeing the pears?
    Thanks very much!

  • Hey Alicia
    If you just put the sugar into the pan it will start to melt and brown, stir it round the pan and when it has reached a nice golden caramel colour put in the pears. Sugar is a high percentage of water (like 80% or something crazy!) so that’s why it melts so well, although if you are uncertain you can add a teaspoon or two of water.
    Hope the cake turns out well, let us know how you go

  • Hi Susie,
    Thank you for your quick response. I have now made the dessert, but the ALL the compnonents from the Neoclassic View… recipe book. That means I also did the Pumpkin Rum Raisin Creme Anglaise and the Pear Chips. It all worked out pretty good, not restaurant quality but still tasty!
    My friend’s and I just started a blog for my Cooking Club, so would you mind if I link this page? As it saves me from writing out the whole recipe!
    Alicia : )

  • Hey Alicia
    That sounds delicious, how was the pumpkin rum raisin anglaise? I was pretty fascinated by that combination but figured it would be pretty yum. Isn’t the book amazing? It is one of my all time favourites.
    As for linking to the recipe we are completely happy with it! Maybe you could send a link through as we would also love to see your blog.

  • I just halved the cake recipe and made it as cupcakes. I couldn’t taste the chai much, but that could just be because I didn’t make my chai tea strong enough. Also, some cupcakes came out very oily on the bottom. Maybe this recipe doesn’t halve well?

  • Hi Natasha,
    Thanks for your feedback. I haven’t tried halving this recipe before or baking it as cupcakes, but it is a very moist cake. Did you bake your cupcakes in cases, or straight into the tin (in which case, did you oil the tin)? The strength of the chai flavour could depend on the brand and age of the chai tea used, or the length of time it is steeped for. I usually find with using coffee or tea in baking the stronger the better!

  • Great recipe for a dinner party as you can prepare hours before required. I was a little concerned how wet the cake mixture was, but the cakes turned out very moist and still fluffy. The flavours are interesting together, but certainly work. I had quiet a lot of mousse left over and enough egg whites that I can now make a pavlova. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  • So glad the recipe was a success Ali! It is a very moist cake, and so perfect so this time of year 🙂
    Thank you for your comment!

  • I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your blog. It seems like some of the text within your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Appreciate it
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  • Hi there,
    I can’t see any issues at our end and I haven’t had any problems in the past with this specific issue. I hope you can get it resolved and yes please if anyone els has this problem than please let us know so we can look into it. Have a great day. Kate

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