I’m really not much of a drinker (no really, ask anyone!), but I will (almost) never turn down a G&T. They’re just so great. Plus they’re British (definitely a bonus. In fact, sidenote, my other favourite alcoholic drink is Pimm’s. Bit of a theme?).
So when a friend asked me to make a gin and tonic cake for her wedding, you can guess just how keen I was to try it. Of course, I was skeptical too – who am I if not skeptical? But this time it was with good reason, I think. The beauty of a G&T is it’s lightness and subtlety, and it’s really tricky to make a cake light enough in texture to suit the delicate G&T flavour without overpowering it.
So, challenge accepted, the next thing to do was make a practice cake (hello, yes, free gin and tonic cake going begging. Form an orderly queue please).
And, what do you know, the first cake was a disaster. Well, not a disaster. If it were any other flavour it actually would have been a great cake! The texture was perfect – light and fluffy and perfectly cooked. But despite adding a rather large amount of straight gin, and a decent amount of tonic water to the cake, and covering it in gin-filled frosting, it barely tasted like gin and tonic! (See, I did have good reason to be skeptical!) The gin, despite having a rather high alcohol content, was just too delicate in flavour to work in cake form. And yes, perhaps I just wasn’t heavy-handed enough. Goodness knows I’m not exactly a seasoned professional when it comes to alcohol. But either way, I wasn’t happy with it. And I certainly wasn’t serving it up as a wedding cake!
So, onto plan B. If real gin and tonic wasn’t going to work, how about fake gin and tonic? Fake gin and tonic, I hear you say. Yeah, well, gin and tonic flavouring. Does such a thing exist? Yes, yes it very much does! The only catch: it exists almost exclusively in the UK (naturally), where it costs about £1 per bottle – cheap as chips. I’m sure you can find it in Australia, but I certainly couldn’t. At least, not cheaply. So, thank you Sainsbury’s for your incredibly cheap cake-decorating range (and to the bride, who was in the UK at this point in time, and very shortly on her way to Melbourne!). And believe it or not, fake flavouring did the trick! It’s a recipe that deserves tweaking, particularly to allow for flavour preferences. But if you can get your hands on some flavouring, it’s well worth a shot!
Sidenote – this cake was smothered in buttercream for the wedding, however, it would work perfectly well without the frosting, just served warm with the syrup and some extra Greek yoghurt.
Gin & Tonic Cake
Adapted from this recipe
Serves 8-10 | Allow about 1 hour
250g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
150g greek yogurt
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
30ml gin & tonic flavouring
- Heat the oven to 160ºC fan and line 2 x 20cm cake tins.
- In a stand mixer beat together the butter and 200g of the sugar until pale and fluffy, (at least 5 mins).
- Add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are fully mixed in before adding the next one. If the mixture looks like it has split, add a tablespoon of the flour, then keep beating in the eggs.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the rest of the flour.
- Add the yogurt, the zest and the juice of one of the limes, and the gin & tonic flavouring, stirring carefully. At this point, you should taste the batter and add more flavouring if you think it needs it.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for about 35 mins or until the top of the cake almost bounces back when pressed, or when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, combine the remaining lime juice and sugar in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the cake is cooked through, remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Before you remove the cake from its tin, poke holes all over it with a fork, making sure they only go about halfway into the cake (otherwise you’ll lose all your syrup!), and pour the syrup over carefully so it doesn’t spill down the sides.
- If you’re making the buttercream, beat 150g soft unsalted butter in a stand mixer until very, very pale in colour – this could take up to 10 minutes.
- When you’re happy with the colour of the butter, gradually add 2 cups of icing sugar, and 10ml of gin & tonic flavouring and a squeeze of lime juice until it becomes a spreadable consistency.
- With an offset spatula, spread the frosting over the top of one cake, stack the other on top, then frost the outside of the whole cake. Top with some lime wedges if you like.
- Otherwise, just serve as is, with a generous dollop of greek yoghurt.