Unfathomably (he paid me to say that), my friend Nick just turned 40 so I asked him what variety of baked goodness he might like. When he chose a lemon cake, I confess that my heart sank ever so slightly, echoing the woeful rise I’ve achieved with previous lemon cake exploits. A week or two later, another friend and fellow gin fan Lexie sent me a link to a Gin & Tonic cake recipe. As fortune would have it, Nick rather enjoys a G&T so I decided to try and break the lemon cake curse by throwing gin into the mix.
Personally, I think it’s a little rude to tinker with someone’s carefully crafted recipe before you’ve tried it so I fully intended to give this cake a bash entirely unchanged, but one unexpectedly dead lime, forgetting to buy tonic and the fact that Nick had previously requested lemon buttercream on his lemon cake meant that a little jiggery-pokery was necessary.
(Also, I’ve converted the original cup measurements to metric weights, as I find it easier.)
375g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
350g caster sugar
4 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
1½tbsp freshly zested rind – ideally from limes, though I had to sub in a bit of lemon
juice of 1 lime
200g icing sugar
juice of 1 lime
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
500g icing sugar
zest and juice (approx 2tbsp) of 1 lemon
I followed the brilliant instructions on the original recipe, except I was too late to spot the advice about starting with 1-2tbsp of gin for the glaze; I went all-in with 5tbsp… And I don’t regret it.
If you bake frequently, I’d encourage you to stick one of these brilliant multisize square cake tins on your Christmas list. They give pleasingly sharp corners and take up very little cupboard space. (Middle-aged comment alert.)
For the buttercream, beat the butter until soft, then add the icing sugar. Combine by hand with a rubber spatula before giving it a good beating in the mixer. Zest the lemon directly into the bowl then add the juice. Beat again. I made mine on an extremely hot day so I had to add more sugar to get it to the right texture.
Nothing delicate or girly about this monster. Excellent.
Flavour feedback: fresh, citrus flavour with a delicate but detectable tang of gin if you breathe in right after you take a bite. A definite winner.