After weeks (months even!) being cooped up inside writing a dissertation, revising and practicing for final recital, it’s so nice to be finally able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, gin and juice in hand… Plus a sneaky slice of cake or two.
Despite not being a fan of tonic, I love a cheeky gin – and lemon drizzle is (in my humble opinion) the absolute queen of cakes. Sticky and sweet on the outside, and just the right kind of bitter and moist on the inside, a good lemon drizzle is my kind of heaven. But, despite them being amongst my favourite ever cakes, I’ve never actually made a lemon drizzle cake before.
Enter this lil baby! A combination of two of my favourite things (gin and cake, in case you didn’t already get the message…), this twist on a classic lemon drizzle is perfect for a summer cream tea or just to enjoy with friends in the garden – or to gobble on your lonesome if you’re anything like me.
I searched for a good recipe online but I couldn’t seem to find exactly what I was looking for, so this is a combination of several recipes all rolled into one. Let’s get baking!
For the cake:
200g softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
175g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
The finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
75ml gin (I used the Lemon Drizzle Gin by Sipsmith to double the lemon flavour, but any gin that you enjoy drinking will work just as well.)
For the syrup:
60g caster sugar
60ml tonic water
2 tbsp gin
For the icing and decoration:
50g (1¾oz) granulated sugar
The juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp gin
1 lemon, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas 4), then grease and line a large loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Set the tin aside.
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl, then cream with an electric whisk until pale, light, and fluffy.
Lightly beat the eggs in a separate jug, the pour them a little at a time into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. (I like to add a spoonful of flour every so often with the eggs to stop the mixture from curdling; if you are confident in the freshness of your eggs, you can skip this step.)
Gently fold in the remaining flour, baking powder, and lemon zest, taking care not to burst the air bubbles in the batter. Then pour in the gin and give it another gentle stir. Tip gently into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Pop into the oven to bake for 1 hour. 5 minutes before the timer is up, take out the cake and test with a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven. If it doesn’t, leave it another 5 minutes.
Whilst the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Put the sugar and tonic water into a small pan and set over a low heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves – you can tell when you no longer feel any grainiess under your spoon. Once the sugar has totally dissolved, increase the heat and boil the syrup for 1 minute without stirring. Take the pan off the heat and measure out 4 tbsp of the syrup into a small bowl, then mix in the gin.
Once the cake is out of the oven leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin. Once the time is up, use a skewer to make 8 holes in the cake, then drizzle the syrup over the top and leave to finish cooling in the tin.
Once the cake is completely cool, turn it out onto a board or plate, then turn it right-side up again and place on a wire rack.
To finish, mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the top of the cake. Arrange the lemon slices along the top and leave to set for a couple of hours at least.
Once ready, cut into big slices and enjoy. I like to eat mine with a few berries on the side as it really compliments the lemon, and a large gin with cucumber and apple juice!