Bring a little sunshine and spice to your afternoon tea with these adorable individual sponge cakes. They are intensely aromatic with a beautiful blend of cardamom, cloves and breakfast tea, paired with a sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.
Make the chai sponges. Beat the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, on medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until pale and creamy.
With the mixer running, one at a time, add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
Whisk the milk and oil together in a jug.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and all the ground spices into a bowl. Add the contents of the tea bags, then stir well to mix the flour, spices and tea together.
Using a large spoon or spatula, old one third of the flour mixture into the egg mixture, followed by half the milk and oil mixture. Repeat until all the dry and wet ingredients are incorporated into the egg mixture.
Divide the batter equally between the two tins and spread it level with a palette knife. Bake the sponges for 40–45 minutes, until risen, and a skewer inserted into the centre of each sponge comes out clean. Leave the sponges to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack. Turn the sponges the right way up and leave them to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the cream-cheese frosting. Beat the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the beater, on medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla, then beat gently to combine.
Add the cream cheese and beat on a slow speed until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
Spoon one quarter of the frosting into a small bowl and colour it yellow (this is for the sunflower petals). Spoon 3 tablespoons of the remaining frosting into a bowl and colour it dark brown. Divide the remaining plain frosting between two bowls and colour one bowl terracotta and the leave the other plain.
Spoon the yellow frosting into the piping bag fitted with the medium leaf nozzle and the brown frosting into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Set aside.
Using the round cutter, cut 6 discs from each sponge, to make 12 in total.
Spoon the uncoloured frosting on top of 6 of the sponges, spreading it evenly to the edges, then place a second sponge on top and sandwich together.
Spread terracotta frosting around the side of each cake and smooth it over with a palette knife –to look like a plant pot. Transfer any leftover terracotta frosting into the second piping bag fitted with the small star nozzle.
Using the yellow frosting, pipe large sunflowers, with petals overhanging the sides, on the top of each individual cake. Finally, pipe the dark brown frosting in the centre of each sunflower. Using the leftover terracotta frosting, pipe small stars on top of the dark brown frosting to finish.