HOLI Thandai Spring Cake with Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Strawberry-Rose Petal Jam

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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.

Thandai Holi Spring Cake



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!

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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!



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!

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Here are the most popular Thandai recipes that I have created:



Thandai Shortbread Cookies dipped in White Chocolate with Pistachios and Rose Petals

Thandai White Hot Chocolate

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!



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.

Thandai Holi Spring Cake

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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.

Thandai Holi Spring 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.

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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.

Thandai Holi Spring 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!

Thandai Holi Spring Cake

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.

Thandai Holi Spring 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!




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