I took my mum for lunch yesterday and she ordered a gin and tonic which truly signifies the start of summer. She barely drinks, but her annual bottle of Gordons arrives with the sunshine and is replaced by Stone’s Green Ginger Wine as the nights draw in. I’m really excited by the boom in Gin taking place at the moment, instead of one bottle of Bombay Sapphire or Gordons, my drinks cabinet has Hendricks, Sipsmith, Bathtub and Pinkster gin with several varieties of Fever Tree tonic. With the long lazy evenings within arms’ reach, a heavy glass with lots of ice, a shot of gin and a funky tonic in the golden evening light is such a treat at the end of long day. Before a fantastic dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I did enquire of the hostess’s husband what she might like for her birthday, he looked perplexed, then pensive and finally answered emphatically ‘gin’. So, rather than a bottle of gin, i thought a hand-crafted cake might make an appropriate, and more personal gift – the huge upside being I might actually get to eat some too! This recipe is therefore, not properly tested (having only made it once!) but I also think you can be as heavy handed with the gin and swap lime for lemon as you wish. You can also halve the quantities for a smaller cake and simply bake in one tin, then split and fill.
Gin & Tonic Cake
Makes one large cake to serve around 20+ portions
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, (160 fan), gas mark 4
For the cake
400g caster sugar
400g unsalted butter
8 large eggs
400g self raising flour
Zest of one lime
50ml gin of your choice
For the syrup
150g caster sugar
75ml boiling water
75ml tonic water
50ml gin of your choice
Zest of half a lime
For the frosting
200g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon curd
To make the cake
- Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Beat in the eggs one by one (don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit lumpy, just add a bit of the flour until it binds together)
- Fold in the flour, lime zest and gin.
- Split the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 – 50 minutes (I like to cook longer at a lower temperature which avoids a massive peak in the middle of the cake).
- Test the cake with a skewer or tip of a knife, if it comes out clean (and the cake is just coming away from the edges of the tin), then take them out and pop on a wire rack to cool.
To make the syrup
- Put the sugar in a heat-proof jug and boil the kettle.
- Add 75ml boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves
- Stir in the tonic, gin and lime zest and leave to cool.
To make the frosting
- In a stand mixer or with an electric hand whisk, beat together the softened butter, sugar and lemon curd until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, wrap clingflim or a drape a damp tea towel over the bowl to prevent an icing sugar snow storm in the kitchen!
- Add a couple of tablespoons of the gin and tonic syrup to loosen the mixture and beat well
- Once the cake is completely cool, split each layer in half and trim the top to make a flat(ish) surface.
- Place one layer on a cake board or flat plate
- Using a pastry brush, brush/soak with the gin & tonic syrup then dollop on some frosting and spread with a palette knife
- Brush the underside of the next layer with syrup and pop on top and repeat.
A great trick is to flip the top cake so the original ‘top’ of each layer ends up in the centre of the cake and you get a perfectly flat cake.
To finish, chill the cake in the fridge for an hour to firm up, then using a palette knife, spread the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake – I used a bench scraper (used for bread making etc.) to then create the semi-naked effect on this cake, before painting with a little gold lustre dust mixed with vodka and placing some fresh flowers on top. You could simply grate some more fresh lime zest on top for speed!