Easter long weekend in autumnal Queensland spent picnicking and kayaking out on the lake. I guess it’s not too different from a spring day in the northern hemisphere, but it definitely feels different. Instead of little bunny rabbits, baby birds and flowers blooming, I feel the evenings drawing in. The weather is cooler, the evenings darker and I can’t help but crave the comfort of home cooking.
Returning home from a day out on Easter Sunday, the shops were closed and I realised I hadn’t quite prepared anything for the evening ‘comfort’. And with my hormone-driven cravings for something sweet, I look to the pantry for a solution.
What is Biscake?
I’m sure I’m not the first person to improvise and create biscake. Without owning a baking tray and having zero baking paper in the house, I couldn’t make biscuits. Without enough ingredients, I couldn’t make cake. What I ended up with was an improvised biscuit batter being baked in a loaf tin. The result: biscake. Biscake can be likened to a flapjack or brownie in appearance. About 2cm thick. Crunchy like a biscuit around the edges and soft like dense cake sponge in the middle.
Something about the smell of chai spices makes me think of winter and a cosy home. It’s warming, comforting and relaxing. Not quite the hot and humid villages in India where I learned to make Masala Chai Tea. When attending cooking courses in both Pushkar and Udaipur, I used the following 5 ingredients for Masala Chai;
- Green Cardamom
- Black Peppercorn
I’ve learned that you might also find star anise and nutmeg in a chai mix, depending on the region. In the recipe I’m sharing today, I’ve also added nutmeg.
Chai Spice Biscake Recipe
5 green cardamom pods
8 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger
8 pitted dates
7g baking soda
150g plain flour
75g caster or demerara sugar
50mL coconut oil & extra for greasing
1 baking tin (I used a loaf tin)
- Preheat Oven to 200’C
- Firstly, place the dates in a small bowl and add boiled water to soften while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Place cloves, cardamom and peppercorns in a spice/coffee grinder or pestle and mortar to grind down into a powder. If you don’t own either of these items, like me, you can patiently use a spoon to crush the cloves and peppercorns and peel open the cardamom pods and remove the inner seeds. If you have used a pestle and mortar, make sure the outer shell of the cardamom pods is really ground down or just remove the larger pieces before adding to the mix. Place these spices in a small dish together with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a mixing bowl, place your dry ingredients. That’s flour, sugar and baking powder. At this stage, I also like to combine all of the spices and give the mix a good stir.
- Set the mixing bowl aside for a moment and come back to the dates you have left soaking in a small bowl. Using a fork or any other means, mash the dates down into a syrup/paste. Adding ginger to the date syrup next, either use ginger paste from a jar or crush your fresh ginger in a pestle & mortar. Mix the ginger and dates mixture together and add the coconut oil.
- Now, add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Initially using a fork or wooden spoon – whichever you prefer. The mixture may seem hard to combine so you will need to get your hands in there. It will feel eventually feel and look like cookie dough. If it’s more like cake batter, it probably has too much of the wet ingredients. But don’t panic, it’s biscake remember.
- Use a little coconut oil to line the loaf tin or baking tin. Shape your biscuit dough the same as the tin, so that it reaches the edges. If you have more of a cake batter consistency then pour it into the tin.
- Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes before checking on it. It should be ready when the biscake is a dark golden colour on top and a knife can go into the middle and come out clean. It will also be a little bit spongy in the middle.
- Allow the biscake to cool before cutting into squares or fingers and serving with a cup of your favourite tea.
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