Chai Spiced Apple Brown Sugar Cake, Brown Butter Icing and Blackberry Jam


I have been experimenting for some time with apple cake recipes in a quest for one that has a clear autumnal flavour, is traditionally moist, but also cuts cleanly, a stringent requirement when making wedding and party cakes.  Whether this Chai Spiced Apple Cake makes it to my menu or not I adored the flavour combination, and after much interest when I posted this picture on social media I thought I would share the recipe!

My persistence in finding the right apple flavour for my menu stems from the fact that we are lucky enough to buy what I think are the best apples around at our local Sunday market in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire. A far cry from the waxy, and often imported supermarket varieties, these are tart, crisp, and only available in season.  They are now the only apples I will eat.


This apple cake recipe sort of evolved having found some beautifully aromatic Wall and Keogh loose leaf chai tea  in Robertson’s Deli in Dalkey. Wall and Keogh have established themselves as one of Dublin’s leading loose leaf tea wholesalers, supplying prominent cafes and delis. Their loose leaf chai is amazing, with the traditional spicy aroma of cardamon and cloves, a perfect pairing for apple.

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I filled and iced this cake with brown butter icing, something which I had never made did I miss it! Brown butter takes on a subtle nutty, toffee flavour, making a delicious buttercream which is a perfect pairing for apple. I also filled the cake with some blackberry jam, because blackberries are a natural partner for apple and I had some homemade Wexford Blackberry Jam lurking in my cupboard from my apple and blackberry cupcake recipe.

The quantities in this recipe can be made in two 7″ round tins to create two cakes which can each be divided in two to make four layers. Alternatively, the recipe can be baked in one 8″ tin for a two-layer cake or three 6″ tins for a super tall cake 6 layer cake.  I iced it ‘semi-naked’ style. The icing quantities are enough to fill the cake but you may need a second batch if you choose to coat it. I also decorated with blackberry macarons..a blog post on macarons is to follow soon!


Happy baking!

Chai Spiced Apple Brown Sugar Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Blackberry Jam

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 225g light soft brown sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 2 tbsp loose leaf chai tea (I used Wall and Keogh, beautifully aromatic but a chai tea bag will also do)

Ingredients for the brown butter icing (this is enough to fill the 4-layer cake but you will need to increase quantities if you are making more layers of cake and/or coating the cake):

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • pinch cinnamon

Ingredients for the blackberry jam:

  • See our blackberry jam recipe here!


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 7″ round cake tins.

Step 2: Place milk and chai tea in a small saucepan (if the quantity of milk is too small for your saucepan use a little more and measure out 60ml of chai-infused milk later for your cake). Heat gently to infuse the milk. Set aside.

Step 3: Sift together flours and cinnamon. Grate apple and gently squeeze out excess juice.

Step 4: Cream butter and brown sugar together in mixer until light and fluffy.

Step 5: Beat in eggs one at a time, adding one tablespoon of flour with each egg.

Step 6: Fold in remaining flour followed by the grated apple and strained chai-infused milk.

Step 7: Pour into greased tins and bake for approx 40-50mins Cake is cooked when well risen, springy to touch and skewer comes out clean.

Step 8: Meanwhile make the brown butter for the icing. Melt butter in saucepan over a low heat, bring to a simmer and continue to stir until it has turned a golden colour and smells toffee-like. Pour into a bowl, leave to cool and place in fridge to firm up a little.

Step 8: When cooked, remove cake from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Step 9: Make the icing by beating together the brown butter, icing sugar and cinnamon until fluffy.

Step 10:  Trim the top off each cake to level and divide each cake in two to create four layers in total. Fill each layer with the brown butter icing and blackberry jam. I decorated it in ‘semi-naked’ style with blackberry macarons, gilded berries and bay leaves but feel free to get creative at this point!




6 replies
  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    I think I’m going to try this today, Love the sound of the flavours. Any advice on achieving the semi naked look? I’ve not tried doing it before, yours looks so beautiful x

    • Suzanne Brady
      Suzanne Brady says:

      Hi Jane,

      I hope this works well for you! I use medium eggs. For semi-naked cakes I torte and fill and then refrigerate to allow the buttercream to firm up. When applying the buttercream coating I use a thick layer as I find that even though you only end up with a thin layer if you apply thinly in the beginning it is easy to pick up crumbs. Scrape off excess buttercream, add more if needed to straighten or fill in gaps and scrape again. You can scrape until you expose as much as you wish but don’t scrape too hard or you will pull the edge of the cake. Good luck! x

  2. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    These flavours would be soooo delicious together! I’m hunting for ideas for a special event cake soon that needs to have an autumnal feel, and apple and spice and blackberry are definitely on my shortlist!
    I’m curious though – did this recipe live up to your stringent requirement for moist-but-clean-cutting? It wasn’t quite clear from your phrasing, but I have the same requirements, so would love to know! If yes, then this recipe in its entirety might make the shortlist!
    Thanks for making and posting such beautiful things 🙂

    • Suzanne Brady
      Suzanne Brady says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Yes I like to have seasonal flavours on the menu and I think this one is perfect for Autumn. Maybe I should have stated that at the end but yes it did cut very cleanly and was really moist! I have tried many recipes and sometimes I have found that grated or chopped apple adds too much moisture and can make the cake crumbly. I found here that squeezing out a little juice and grating it seemed to overcome that. I hope you enjoy baking it! Best wishes, Suzanne

  3. Milena
    Milena says:

    Ive been on a browned butter mission lately and it’s fast becoming my new favorite flavour. I havnt tried it in an icing yet so that is for sure next on my list…must take a break from all this butter first! 😉


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