Chai Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake
I made this bundt cake 5 times in 1 month.
Do you know how much butter that is??
Don’t remind me.
I baked this chai cinnamon swirl bundt cake so often because I was testing the recipe to perfection. Not only this, I wanted to have slices frozen for when we have friends visiting little miss Noelle this fall. (Jude and Noelle are legit BFFs.) I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many baked goods in the freezer. Case in point.
But testing the recipe is the main reason this bundt cake was on repeat. Once I finally got the recipe right, I overbaked it. Forgot to set the oven timer, went upstairs, and came back down almost 2 hours later. Pregnancy brain, perhaps? My well done bundt cake (and patience) immediately went into the trash. I nearly gave up because the amount of butter I used in all this recipe testing was ridiculous. But I persevered! You might call it determination or perfectionism, but let’s call a spade and spade and refer to it as a serious addiction to all things cinnamon swirl.
Even better if that cinnamon swirl includes chai spices. Why choose a cinnamon swirl when you can have a CHAI cinnamon swirl? ♥ ↓ ♥ ↓ ♥ ↓ ♥
Here’s why this recipe works:
This bundt cake is buttery and thick with a tight crumb and a sticky sweet cinnamon-chai swirl. It’s dense, but not overly heavy. The base of this cinnamon swirl bundt cake is creamed butter + sugar. So there’s tons of buttery goodness at the heart of it. Instead of flavorless granulated sugar, I sweeten the cake with brown sugar. Tastes remarkable with the thick swirl of warm chai spice flavors. Since they’re quite large, bundt cakes have the tendency to be a little dry– so I add enough moisture to compensate. We’ll use 5 large eggs, sour cream, and milk. This trio of wet ingredients guarantees a super-moist, soft, and tender bundt cake.
Just don’t overbake it. You’ll sabotage all your efforts in keeping it moist. Trust me, I know from experience!
Now what about that swirl?! Hidden inside the cake is a generous blanket of brown sugar and chai spices including ginger, cardamom, allspice, and– of course– cinnamon! The same spices we enjoy in frosted chai snickerdoodles and baked chai spice donuts. (omg try those donuts ASAP.)
Simply layer in the chai spice mixture, like so:
(And, um, don’t forget your oven timer.)
I don’t normally say this, but this cake is undeniably delish even without the chai spice swirl in the center. And without icing too! You know how I love my “stuff” in desserts, so this is truly saying something about the bundt cake itself. If you’re ever looking for a plain pound cake/bundt cake, this should be your go-to. I know I’ve mentioned it like 20x already, but this cake is soooo buttery and moist!
Regardless, I never pass up an opportunity for icing.
*Brown butter icing* to be exact.
So after about 5 times baking this bundt cake, I can say with 100% confidence this is a recipe you HAVE to try. It’s a giant cake, for sure, so invite a bunch of friends and family over to help you gobble it up! You’ll fall in love with the chai spice flavor, one we often associate with this time of year. (It’s finally cooling down here on the east coast. Yay!)
Before you bundt:
- I love this bundt cake pan. I’ve had it for 4 years and it’s the only bundt pan I use. It’s nonstick, but I still always add a little coat of butter or nonstick cooking spray to grease it. The bundt cake releases so easily. NEVER a crumb stuck. Plus, the shape is pretty.
- The wet ingredients in the batter will look somewhat curdled before you add the dry ingredients; this is completely normal and due to the ranging temperatures of the ingredients. The butter may be warmer than the eggs, the sour cream may be colder than the butter, etc. Have no fear! It will all come together when the dry ingredients are added.
Chai Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (180ml) milk, at room temperature
- optional for topping: brown butter icing, salted caramel, or maple icing
Chai Cinnamon Swirl
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 10-inch bundt pan.
- For the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture will look curdled; that's ok-- it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk, and beat on medium speed it all until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thick, yet silky.
- For the chai cinnamon swirl: Mix the swirl ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Pour half of the cake batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle the swirl ingredients evenly on top-- it will be a thick layer of swirl! Cover evenly with remaining cake batter.
- Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with just a couple lightly moist crumbs. This is a large, heavy cake so don't be alarmed if it takes a little longer in your oven.
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours inside the pan. Then, invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. Allow to cool completely.
- As the cake cools, prepare the icing. Try my brown butter icing, salted caramel, or maple icing. I used the brown butter icing in these photos. Drizzle icing over cake before slicing and serving.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store at room temperature for a couple days and/or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: You can make the entire cake ahead of time (before topping with icing). Cover cooled cake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before icing and serving. Baked cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before icing and serving.
Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
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