On Saturday one of my very good friends celebrated her birthday. Now Corinne is a girl who loves a gin and tonic. Infact, I rarely see her in the evenings without a gin being in her hand at some stage during the night. We celebrated her birthday at a bar called Origin on Wyndham Street fittingly, as the name suggests, a bar specializing in gin.
There was, therefore, only one real birthday cake choice for this birthday girl; it had to involve gin. After a little looking around on the internet, I found a recipe for a gin and tonic cake based around a lime sponge. What followed was a day of baking with my friend Becca, and a great deal of debate over the amount of gin Involved. We wanted it to taste of gin. In fact we wanted it to taste very noticeably of gin. At the same time though, we didn’t want biting into the cake to be like taking a shot of pure gin. It had to be cakey too. No one wants to bite into a birthday cake and gag from the neat alcohol. We stood over it at every step like anxious parents. Shall we add more gin? But what if that’s too much? What about if we turn it over and feed it with gin like a Christmas cake and brandy? Another slug of gin? Well, why not …. Of course the process involved a lot of sneaky tastes of gin infused cake batter, glaze and icing. By about five o’clock we cracked and went about icing the cake, glass of gin in hand.
The result is wonderfully gin soaked. The sponge is moist and sticky but still light. It’s got a sharp tang of lime, of set by the sweetness of the glaze and the icing. Through it all is the juniper taste of gin, but it’s not too overpowering. The birthday girl actually struggled to taste it at all, but less hardened gin drinkers found it quite strong. You can alter the amount of gin you use, depending on your gin tolerance. If your audience aren’t gin drinkers at all, then I’d suggest substituting some of the gin at each stage for tonic water. For true gin lovers, well, the more the merrier!
The original recipe calls for a 9×13 baking dish, but there’s no chance of one of those fitting into a pokey Hong Kong oven. Instead we used the recipe to make one 6 inch round birthday cake, and eight cupcakes to go along side.
Gin and Tonic Cake
(adapted from How Sweet It Is)
385g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
230g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tablespoons freshly zested lime rind
60ml tonic water
Juice of one lime
For the glaze
225g icing sugar
5 tablespoons gin
Juice of 1 lime
For the icing
320g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons gin
1 teaspoon vanilla
About three limes, cut into thin slices.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until soft, light and pale.
Add one egg at a time, beating each one until fully combined before adding the next.
Add in the lime zest and vanilla.
Add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
Mix in the gin, tonic and lime juice, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour into a lined baking 9×13 baking dish, or add half of the mixture to one 6inch round tin and divide the remaining mixture between eight cupcake cases.
Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
While the cake is baking, mix up the glaze. Mix up the icing sugar with about half the gin and the lime juice. Add more gin until the glaze is very runny. If you need more liquid, add in a bit of tonic water.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over and pour the glaze over the top, allowing it to soak in the cake.
Mix up your icing, aiming for a very thick consistency. Spread across the top of the cake/cake and cupcakes.
Decorate with slices of fresh lime dipped in sugar.