HOLI THANDAI SPRING CAKE with ROSE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM AND STRAWBERRY-ROSE PETAL JAM
WHY IS HOLI CELEBRATED?
Holi is a very famous Indian festival, celebrating the arrival of spring. It is harvesting season as well. The season for new life, season for blooming flowers. The festival is also called the “Festival of Colors”. It signifies the end of winter, blossoming of spring, love, new relationships. It starts on a Full Moon day, and into the next day. People of all race, cast, creed celebrate Holi. It does not matter where you live, how rich or poor you are, or what caste you are from, it does not matter whether you live in a huge house, or a flat, or in the slums, everyone gathers around to play holi. Religious rites and rituals are performed around a fire. Holika the sister of a rascal king Hiranyakashipu, was destroyed in the fire, and hence Holi is celebrated, signifying the triumph of good over evil.
HOW IS HOLI CELEBRATED?
On Holi day, people generally wear a light colored clothing, and throw colors at each other. They also use phickaris – similar to Nerf guns, to spray colored water on folks! We used to make small water balloons in the hundreds, and throw water balloons as kids, at each other! We lived in a building community, where there were many families living in apartments. So all the kids and parents from the building would gather to play holi, spray colored water, water balloons, throw dry color on each other. We would usually go home after the morning plays, go home, get ready and fresh, and there would be a late afternoon snack in the building, where everyone would gather to mingle, laugh, talk, and simply have a good time over food and drinks. Those were good times!
My mother would get annoyed since we would come all drenched in colored water, dripping that colored water all over our home. She would be screaming – “Go into your bathrooms! Go take a shower!” LOL. I can still picture her, yelling at the top of her lungs, while she came with a bucket, and fresh water, and a towel to clean the trail of mess we left behind!
WHAT IS THANDAI POWDER?
Thandai is a popular drink that is had be one and all during the holi festival. Thandai powder is a powder, that is made by grinding almonds, cashews, pistachios, cardamom, poppy seeds, rose petals, black peppercorns, star anise, nutmeg, saffron into a powder form. That powder is used to make a popular thandai drink called Bhaang, which is actually alcoholic, made of cannabis. I have had a sip from my parents when I was a teen and it is really good! I have used Thandai powder in many different ways over the years!
DIFFERENT RECIPES WITH THANDAI POWDER:
Here are the most popular Thandai recipes that I have created:
Thandai Shortbread Cookies dipped in White Chocolate with Pistachios and Rose Petals
Thandai Ice Cream with Rose Syrup, Pistachio, Rose Petal and Cardamom Brittle
Pear and Thandai Upside Down Olive Oil Cake
Thandai Thumbprint Cookies with Pear and Spice Jam
Now I am adding this beautiful cake that I created to the list as well! This is a Holi Thandai Cake, with a Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and Strawberry Rose Petal Jam in the middle! It is a mouthful, but I had so much fun creating this cake!
THANDAI SPRING CAKE LAYERS AND TIPS FOR BAKING A GOOD CAKE:
The cake layers are made using all purpose flour and corn starch. Corn starch gives the cake its fluffy layers. I use just enough thandai powder, that is pre-ground and stored in a glass jar in the cabinet upto 6 months, enough to flavor the cake beautifully. It gives a wonderful texture and flavor to the cake.
- When making the batter, I ensure that I weigh all the ingredients to get an accurate cake every time.
- I also ensure that the cake tins are nicely buttered and floured, so that the cake does not stick. Use parchment paper always, SO that the cake comes out clean.
- You can also use cooking spray in the cake tins to make sure that the cake comes out clean.
- Divide the batter equally by weighing how much batter is going into each cake tin and divide accordingly.
- After 25 minutes do the cake test, by poking the cake in the middle with a tooth pick or bamboo stick to ensure that it comes out clean. If it comes out clean your cake is done. Remove and let cool. If it is not done, let it bake for another 2 to 3 minutes and test again for doneness.
- Once completely cooled, it is important to wrap each cake in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for ateast 2 hours to overnight for the crumb to set, before assembly.
ROSE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM:
I have adapted the recipe from Stella Parks genius article on Serious Eats. Here is the article. I was always afraid of Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but the way Stella has explained it in this article made it so much easier to understand the whys and hows of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The idea is that it is very important to get the right temperatures at 4 different stages :
1) When cooking the egg whites and sugar, the temperature should reach 185 degrees F, to ensure that the egg whites are fully cooked. Other blogs have mentioned of a temperature of 160 degrees F, but I totally trust Stella, so I am going with 185.
2) The temperature of the meringue once you whip the cooked egg whites + sugar mixture in the stand mixer, with the whip attachment. The temperature of the meringue should be around 90 degrees, the bowl may not feel completely cool but that is the temperature you are aiming to achieve
3) The temperature of the butter should be cold, but not too cold. It should be soft to the touch. The temperature of the butter should be around 70 degrees F.
4) After adding the butter to the meringue and whipping it until the buttercream is glossy and soft, the temperature of the buttercream should be 70 degrees F, which is the right temperature to apply to the cake.
This was my main takeaway from the whole article, that the temperatures at different stages of building the buttercream are very important. I love how detailed the article was and I did achieve the best meringue. I have taken my own measurements for the egg whites, butter and sugar. I had read in another article a while ago (I cannot remember which one now), but the ratio of the egg whites : sugar : butter is 1:2:3. This helps to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, in whatever quantity that you want for your requirements.
For this cake, and the decoration, my measurements were absolutely accurate where I got the right amount of buttercream for the inside of the cake, the crumb coat, coating the entire cake, plus the piping on the outside for the decoration. This was sufficient for the entire cake and I did not need any additional buttercream.
CRUMB COAT THE CAKE:
Crumb coating of the cake is an important step. It is used to seal the crumbs of the cake and then left to set in the fridge for 30 minutes, so that it is easier to apply the final buttercream coating for the cake. Crumb coating helps to ensure that the second buttercream coating, applied on the cake will be smooth. It is an important step for getting a good looking cake!
I fill a 16 inch pastry bag with no tip for all the piping in this cake. I simply cut a ½ inch hole at the bottom, to pipe between the cake layers, to crumb coat the cake, and also the apply the final layer of buttercream on the cake.
I wanted to represent the spraying of colored water on the cake, as an expression of playing holi. So I used different edible colors, watered them down with vodka, and used a brush for each color, to spray onto the cake for the holi effect! My kids participated in this activity and it was really fun just throwing colors on the cake, and making a mess (which I do not allow at all! ) . So they did have fun throwing colors on the cake and making a whole mess of it! It looked so pretty! I wanted to go for the birth of spring vibes, beginning of a new season, celebration of holi via this cake, so I did flowers on this cake. It did look slightly crowded but overall I was very pleased and happy with how the cake turned out!
The buttercream is piped with the 16 inch pastry bag with no tip. I use a plastic bench scraper to smoothen out the sides and the top. I do it several times, and also use a small offset spatula for the final smoothening of the cake. I let it set in the fridge before I do any decoration.
I actually piped the flowers vertically on the cake, and hence they look rustic and not very neat. I was lazy and just did not feel like cutting out parchment paper squares, and doing the whole piping each flower, freezing it task. I actually like the rustic look of this cake. I know if I had piped the buttercream on the parchment paper, the flowers would have looked much neater, and nicer on the cake.
The cake itself turned out really delicious and I was very happy with it! 🙂 I love the combination of the thandai masala in the cake, along with the rose swiss meringue buttercream, and the strawberry rose petal jam. I had made the jam last summer, and I used it in the center between the cake layers, but you could simply use plain strawberry jam between the cake layers.
I hope you get a chance to make this very delicious cake and enjoy it with your loved ones! I have tried to be as detailed as possible in my instructions and I hope you find it useful! I love making cakes, and it is not often that I get a chance to, so this was a lot of fun to create for the beautiful Festival of Holi!
Happy Holi to all my readers! May the colors of life, bring color in your lives for this coming year!
HOLI Thandai Spring Cake with Rose Buttercream
- Thandai Masala:
- (Makes about 1 ½ cups)
- ⅓ cup (45 gms) almonds
- ¼ cup (36 gms) pistachios
- ¼ cup (36 gms) cashews
- ¼ cup (36 gms) poppy seeds
- ¼ cup (3 gms) dried rose petals or 20 dried rose buds(remove the stem)
- 20 black peppercorns
- 20 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick (5 gms), crushed
- 8 cloves
- 2 tablespoons (14 gms) fennel seeds
- 2 star anise (3 gms)
- 1 teaspoon (2 gms) ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp saffron
- Thandai Cake Layers:
- (Makes 3 6-inch cakes)
- 2 ½ cups (300 gms) all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp (24 gms) corn starch
- 3 tbsp (25 gms) Thandai Masala
- 1 tbsp (11 gms) baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp (6 gm) table salt
- 1 ½ cups (300 gms) granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter ( 2 sticks/226 gms ) at room temperature
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup (240 gms) whole milk at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Simple Syrup:
- ½ cup (100 gms) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (118 gms) water
- Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 150 gms egg white, at room temperature
- 300 gms granulated sugar
- A pinch of cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 450 gms unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, but kept out for 15 minutes. Butter temperature should be ~70 degrees F
- ½ tsp of good quality of rose water
- Strawberry Jam
- Americolor gel paste(different colors)
- ½ to 1 tsp each of vodka (for each color, for holi effect)
- Edible pearls to decorate
- Americolor gel paste for the flowers and leaves
- 3 6-inch cake pans
- Parchment paper for the cake tins
- Rotating cake stand
- Small offset spatula
- Bench scraper
- 6-inch cardboard cake disc
- Pastry brush
- 6 12 inch pastry bags
- Wilton petal cake decorating tips: #101 , #102, #104, #59
- Leaf decorating tip : #352
- Round decorating tip: #2 or #3
- 2 inch square parchment paper pieces
- Decorating nail
- Thandai Masala:
- 1. In a small bowl, roughly stir together all the ingredients. Working in batches, add mixture to a coffee grinder or spice grinder, blend until finely ground.
- 2. Store in an air-tight container in a cool dark place upto 6 months.
- Thandai Cake:
- 1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 6 inch cake tins with cooking spray. Add parchment paper and spray the cooking spray again. In a medium bowl, add the all purpose flour, corn starch, thandai masala, baking powder, baking soda, salt and whisk to combine.
- 2) In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add in the granulated sugar, and butter, and start at low speed for one minute. Increase the speed to the highest and let it run for 2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved in the butter. Scrap the sides of the bowl to bring the mixture down.
- 3) Now add in the 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing after the addition of each egg. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- 4) Slowly add in the flour in 2 additions, alternating with the milk and combine at low speed, after each addition of flour and milk. Do not overmix. Scrap the sides of the bowl.
- 5) Using a weighing scale, divide the batter into 3 bowls, equally. It is about 410 grams per bowl.
- 6) Add each batter into each cake tin pan. Bake the cake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean from the middle of the cake pan.
- 7) Let the cake cool for about an hour.
- 8) Cover each layer of cake in plastic wrap and let the cakes sit overnight in the fridge to set and firm.
- Simple Syrup:
- 1) On a small pot, on medium heat on the stove, add the sugar and water. Stir with a spatula to combine. Let the mixture come to a simmer and heat for 3-4 minutes, until all the granulated sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Let cool.
- Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
- 1) In a medium bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and whisk to combine. Add it over a pot of simmering water, on a stove at medium heat. Make sure that the bowl is not touching the water, so the water height should be adjusted accordingly. You need to whisk the egg mixture continuously to ensure that the mixture is mixed. You are waiting for the sugar to dissolve and the temperature to reach 185 degrees F. The process takes about 10 minutes.
- 2) Once the mixture is ready, add it to a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and start whisking at high speed. Whisk for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches about 90 degrees F. The mixture will froth and become meringue like in look and texture.
- 3) Now start adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the meringue, while the whisk is still running. The mixture will curdle, become soup like, but you have to keep whisking and it eventually will come together, to look cohesive, and smooth, and velvety in texture. The final temperature should be around 70 degrees F. It is best the check the temperature for the best buttercream finish.
- 4) Finally add the vanilla extract and rose extract and whisk to combine. The buttercream will be smooth and glossy in finish.
- 5) The buttercream should be used immediately. Or you can put it in an air tight container, and in the fridge for upto 2 weeks. To re-use after refrigeration, let it come to a room temperature of 70 degrees F, and then whisk it in the bowl of a stand mixer to make it smooth and shiny again. Then you can use it.
- 6) Add the buttercream to a 16 inch piping bag, by placing the bag in a deep tall glass, and add the buttercream with the help of a spatula. There will be some buttercream left in the bowl. Seal from top and bottom with a clip. When ready to use, snip off the bottom of the bag, to make about an inch hole.
- 1) Level off the domes from the cakes, using a sharp bread serrated knife.
- 2) On a cake turn table, add in a bit of buttercream at the bottom to stick the 6 inch cake board on the turn table. Now place the bottom most layer of cake. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake generously with the simple syrup, 2 to 3 times. You want the cake to soak it so that it stays moist. Now add the cream layer of the cake. Using the pipping bag with the Rose buttercream, create a rim around the cake. Add about 4 tablespoons of the strawberry jam in the middle and using a small offset spatula, level it off. Add the second layer of cake, repeat the brushing of simple syrup and outer buttercream rim. Add about 4 tablespoons of the strawberry jam in the middle. Using an offset spatula, level off the jam. Add the final layer of the cake on the top carefully.
- 3) Now to create the crumb coat: Using the buttercream in the pipping bag, pipe it around the cake with about half an inch between each pipping. Using a bench scraper, level off the buttercream as you move the turn table, with the spatula in parallel to the cake, to secure the crumb around the cake. Scrape the excess buttercream, into the original bowl, that has more buttercream. You will have buttercream left in the piping bag.
- 4) Pipe buttercream to the top of the cake, and using the small offset spatula level off the buttercream to secure the crumb. Keep clean edges around the top of the cake. You might have to repeat the scraping of the buttercream, all around the cake and on top of the cake to level off and also crumb coat the cake nicely. Store the cake in the fridge for half an hour.
- 5) After half an hour, remove the cake. Using the buttercream in the pipping bag, pipe it around the cake in a uniform circular motion. Using a bench scraper, level off the buttercream as you move the turn table to smoothen the sides. Keep repeating the process till you get smooth sides. Using a large spatula, level the top of the cake by using the spatula at a 45 degree angle and bring the frosting into the middle of the cake from the edge of the cake. Keep repeating the process around the rim of the cake. Keep the leftover buttercream in the original bowl, that has more buttercream.
- 7) Using a small offset spatula, and hot water in a glass on the side, and a towel, dip the spatula in hot water, dry it on the towel, use it to clean the cake. Keep repeating till you get a very clean cake.
- 8) Store the cake in the fridge for an hour to set.
- 1) For the holi effect, I use 2-3 drops of color, with 1 tsp of vodka, in each cup. I used 6 colors in total, and 6 different brushes(that I reserve only for edible art). I set all the colors in bowls on a small tray with 6 paint brushes, and then using each color and each brush for that color, I splash paint on the cake, all around. Repeat for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th. 6th color all around to create the holi effect, of sprinkling of colored water using the pichkaris. Store the cake in the fridge to set for half an hour.
- 2) Prepare the 6 piping bags and 6 piping tips, and the different colors. I take 6 bowls, divide the buttercream equally between the bowls and add colors of my choice for the flowers. I dyed 4 different colors for the flowers in 4 bowls. And I used 2 shades of green for the leaf colors. I used the same green for the stem as well. Use different mini spatulas to stir each color vigorously, until the color is homogenous n the buttercream. Fill each of the bags with the different colors. Use green in the #352 and #3 decorating tips. Using a bench scraper, scrape all the buttercream to the bottom as much as possible. Twist on the top and secure with a rubberband.
- 3) Take the decorating nail. Apply a dab of buttercream on it. Put a parchment paper on the top to seal. Now take a petal decorating tip such as #101 for instance. Keeping the narrow side away from you, and wide side towards you, pipe a petal moving from bottom to top to bottom. Repeat closely to the first petal, and continue to form about 5 to 6 petal, and an enclosed flower. Set the paper aside. Use another paper and repeat the process. Keep making flowers using the different tips and colors and using the same method.
- 4) Set them on a baking tray and put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
- 5) Gently place them using an offset spatula, onto the cake and “sticking” with the buttercream. Repeat all around the cake. Place some on top of the cake as well in any pattern you want. Be creative!
- 6) Using the round #3 piping tip, pipe the stems of the flowers.
- 7) Using #352, pipe the leaves on the stems of the flowers.
- 8) Store the cake in the fridge for all the piped buttercream to set.