Chai Cake Ingredients: 2/3 cup milk 3 tablespoon loose black chai tea* 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, crushed* sliver of fresh ginger, peeled and grated* 2 whole eggs 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons flour 1 cup sugar 1 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, ground 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup (4-ounces) Plugrá® European-Style Butter, unsalted, at room temperature *If you can only find plain loose black tea, use 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or 7 crushed cardamom pods, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, and 1/4-inch of fresh ginger peeled and grated Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups sugar 5 egg whites 1 pound Plugrá European-Style Butter, cut into pieces, room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Directions: Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk, tea, cardamom, fennel, and ginger. Bring it to a simmer but not a boil before removing it from the heat and steeping for 5 minutes. Strain the milk and set it on the counter to cool (I popped mine in the fridge after it had cooled a bit.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and 1/3 of the cooled chai milk. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat in softened Plugrá Butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the remaining chai milk and beat on medium-low speed until incorporated. On medium speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Divide the batter evenly among the pans (it’ll be a pretty thin layer of batter in each pan, so I used a scale to make sure it was accurately divided) and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs (if you’re using larger pans, like 9-inch pans, they will bake a lot faster, so keep an eye on them!) Cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from pans and cooling completely on a wire rack. Then wrap them tight and stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes to make them easier to frost. Make the frosting: Make sure your butter is softened before you begin — if it’s not totally room temperature, it won’t integrate appropriately. Put egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place this over a saucepan partially filled with simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisk the mixture constantly for about 3 minutes or until sugar has completely dissolved. Transfer the mixing bowl to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes, or until the mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff peaks. On medium-high speed, add Plugrá Butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. If ever your mixture seems to break a bit, whisk on high for a minute or so to re-fluffify it (that’s the technical term, of course) before continuing. After adding all the butter, continue mixing until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined. Assemble the cake: Use a daub of frosting to anchor a cake layer on a plate. Spread a little more than 1/2 cup of frosting between each cake layers and let it fall out over the sides of the cake. When your cake is built and even, use this excess frosting to spread a thin crumb coat over the whole cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or so for the crumb coat to harden. Then smooth the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of cake in a relatively thick layer to create a pretty finish. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon if desired.