Chai-Spiced Coffee Cake


Warm spices and espresso powder make this crumb-topped cake taste like a chai latte.

Chai-Spiced Coffee Cake
Serves: 1 (9-inch) cake
  • Topping:
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Cake:
  • ⅓ cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch square cast-iron skillet with baking spray with flour.
  2. For topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, espresso powder, cinnamon, and baking powder; whisk in melted butter until moistened and crumbly; reserve.
  3. For cake: In a small bowl, stir together warm milk and espresso powder until espresso is dissolved. Let cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Spread batter into prepared skillet. Using your fingers, crumble topping onto batter.
  6. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. For glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until smooth. Drizzle onto cooled cake.



  1. Topping wasn’t crumbly? I double checked ingredients, but when I added butter, which says to melt, it seemed to much and made more of a paste.

    • Hi Mary, we’ve clarified the recipe to whisk together the topping until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture starts to form small clumps, and then to use your fingers to crumble the topping onto the batter. Hope this helps.

  2. Revised topping instructions didn’t seem to help, I had the same problem with topping not being crumbly, 1/2 cup butter seems like way too much for the amount of flour and sugar. Mine sunk through the batter and ended up looking like craters.

    • It sounds like your butter could be too hot when adding it the flour and sugar mixture, or perhaps you’re mixing up the topping right before sprinkling it onto the cake batter. In either case, it might not have the time it needs to firm up before being sprinkled onto the cake batter. After the topping is mixed, it needs the time it takes to prepare the cake batter to set up and the butter to be absorbed by the flour and brown sugar, which is why it’s the first step in the recipe. We’ll revise the recipe to specify melted but cooled butter and to reserve the topping while making the cake batter.


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