Glazed Harvest Chai Bread

Recently I made the banana butternut butterscotch muffins I wrote about last fall (you can find the recipe here: https://anticipatingadventure.com/2020/10/04/banana-butternut-butterscotch-muffins/), and since I had some leftover roasted butternut and have also been toying around with the idea of making a bread using chai tea, I decided to try to combine the two to make chai-flavored bread.

Unfortunately, my first attempt was not too great. My family enjoyed it with the cream cheese frosting that I smothered on top of it, but the bread wasn’t sweet enough to enjoy on its own. That didn’t stop me from continuing with my attempts, however, and since then, I’ve created this bread.

Although this bread does not taste like chai per se, it is made with black tea and chai spices, giving it a taste reminiscent of autumn. The combination of applesauce, roasted butternut, and pumpkin puree only adds to those traditional fall flavors, creating a delightfully moist and sweet bread fit for having “harvest” in its name.

Not only does this bread make for a delicious fall treat, but it will bring all the coziness of fall to your home with its warm scent and is sure to quickly become a favorite. It already has become one of mine. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe for Glazed Harvest Chai Bread, and as always, please let me know if you make it and how it turned out for you!

GLAZED HARVEST CHAI BREAD

Ingredients

For the chai buttermilk mixture:

• 1 ½ c milk
• 4 tea bags of black tea
• 1 t cinnamon
• ½ t ginger
• ¼ t cardamom
• ¼ t cloves
• 1/8 t pepper
• 1 ½ T lemon juice

For the bread:

• ½ c chai buttermilk mixture
• 2 eggs
• ½ c applesauce
• ½ c butternut squash, roasted
• ½ c pumpkin puree
• 1 t vanilla extract
• 1 ¼ c light brown sugar
• 2 c flour
• ½ t salt
• 1 t baking soda
• ½ t baking powder
• 1 t cinnamon
• ½ t ginger
• ¼ t cloves
• ¼ t cardamom
• ¾ c white chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, almonds, or walnuts (optional)

For the glaze topping:

  • ¼ c chai buttermilk mixture
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ t honey
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • 2 T butter
  • ½ t vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. To make the chai mixture, combine the milk, tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and pepper in a small saucepan and heat over medium low until warmed and thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to let cool slightly, around ten to fifteen minutes. Once lukewarm to slightly warm, add the lemon juice and let sit for an additional ten minutes.
  3. While the buttermilk mixture is forming, mix the eggs, applesauce, butternut squash, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and brown sugar in a blender. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom together. Add the baking chips or nuts, if desired, the blended ingredients, and the ½ c buttermilk chai mixture. Mix to combine, then place in the loaf pan and bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted through the middle of the bread comes out clean.
  4. While the bread is baking, make the glaze by combining ¼ cup of the chai buttermilk mixture, ½ c sugar, ½ t honey, ¼ t baking soda, and 2 T butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil, then stir in the vanilla. Set aside.
  5. Once the bread is finished baking, pour the glaze over the it while it is still in the pan (just use what is needed to cover the top surface of the loaf), then bake an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before removing from its pan. Slice and enjoy! Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

NOTES

*You may have additional chai buttermilk mixture leftover by the time you have finished baking the bread and making the glaze. The amount of milk used in this recipe is to allow for any reduction of liquid that may occur during heating.

**The chai mixture may or may not become like buttermilk in consistency. It did for me my first attempt, but not the second attempt. Either way, the varying consistency did not noticeably affect the end product.

What Are You Growing?

“Is that a weed?” JJ asked me as he looked out the glass door to a potted plant in our backyard.

“No!” I retorted, feeling protective of my little plant. I explained to him how a friend of mine had given me flower seeds for Mother’s Day last year, and I had finally planted them at the beginning of this summer. The longer we stared at the plant, however, the more I started to wonder if JJ’s original thoughts might be right. Could it be that the seeds never took root and that a weed had somehow worked its way into the pot instead?

JJ asked me if I was going to uproot the plant in light of these ponderings. I decided not to, however. Not yet, at least. I’m not sure if it was hope or laziness motivating me, but I planned to give the plant awhile longer before determining my next course of action. I didn’t want to uproot something that could possibly bloom into flowers, and since the plant was contained, I wasn’t worried that this it might wreak havoc on my yard. If nothing else, I would have a good laugh at the end of the summer over all the love and care that I poured into it if it ended up being a weed.

As much as I still find this possibility funny a month or so later, it has caused me to wonder what all I have been growing in my own life on a more serious note. Were the seeds that I wrote about planting in the spring (found here: https://anticipatingadventure.com/2021/05/15/planting-seeds/) possibly giving way to weeds rather than the beautiful garden I had envisioned?

The funny thing about figurative planting is that the seeds we start with are not always the plants we get in the end if we are not careful. If we neglect our plants or use the wrong fertilizer or overwater them, they can turn into something different than what we had originally imagined. Much like literal gardening, a plant will die if neglected. In a figurative sense, however, the plant that is fed the wrong fertilizer or overwatered can quickly turn into a monstruous weed that begins to choke out the other plants in our gardens. The question, then, is what type of plants are we currently growing in our gardens? Moreover, are we tending to them properly so that they can continue to grow into the plant that they are meant to be?

In May, I planted something new in my life. It was a year’s subscription to an online fitness program that was on sale, and although this new aspect of my life has proved to be a wonderful addition thus far, I am becoming more aware of my need to be cautious with this “plant” so that it doesn’t turn into a weed.

The truth is, I find myself thinking about this program more as of late, so I have to ask myself if I am giving it more attention than it deserves. Is it taking up more time than it should? Are my priorities where they should be?

These are the questions that we should ask ourselves in general as we tend to the hopes, dreams, goals, desires, etc. that are sprouting up in our lives. Let’s not neglect any plant entirely (unless God shows us differently), but let’s be careful not to give any one of them greater importance than they merit either. Let’s not water weeds. After all, whatever we grow in our gardens has the potential to affect all the other plants within it, so let’s tend to each one properly and uproot any weeds as needed. Furthermore, let’s give godly, trusted friends permission to point out any weeds that we may be unaware of, and to give us advice on how to help our fruit-bearing plants grow when needed.

Several weeks after my initial conversation with JJ, my mom came into town, and since she has been gardening for years, I asked her if she thought the potted plant might be a weed. After examining it for a minute, she told me she thought it might be a marigold plant and reassured me that the flowers were always the last thing to bloom. It put my mind to ease to hear this and to know that the time spent taking care of that plant should render something beautiful in the end.

Just as we need godly individuals to help us recognize weeds at times,  we sometimes need their help to recognize when a plant is worth growing. Sometimes we need their encouragement to persevere in our gardening attempts and to trust that the end result will be worth it, as hard as it may be to see in the moment.

Had my mom told me she thought my plant was a weed, I may have uprooted it right then. But because of her words, I have continued to tend to it, and just as of yesterday, I noticed several sphere-like shapes beginning to form on the top of it. It makes me hopeful that I’ll see some gorgeous orange flowers soon.

Literal and figurative gardening will always require lots of work, but in the end, both are worth it. Knowing that a harvest is to be reaped (or in my literal case, flowers are to be enjoyed), makes the time and effort worth it. And the lessons learned along the way are valuable treasures gained in the process—a harvest of its own.