“GIN FOR THE WIN” is not something that you’ll ever hear me shout. Out of all the spirits available for (ir)responsible consumption, gin is not one that I ever reach for. Well my friends, this cake could be a game-changer.
A friend of mine was throwing a party and the thought of turning up empty-handed had me come out in a mild sweat and gave me heart palpitations. “CAKE is the answer”, I thought, “It is always the answer.”
I’d been wanting an excuse to make a boozy bake for weeks, so I asked my friend what her favourite tipple was and to my despair, she replied “Gin”.
Having had a shot of good ol’ vodka (my spirit of choice), I forced myself to take on the challenge. Lemon cake immediately sprung to mind. Lemon cakes can do no wrong with their sunny disposition & zest for life. When life give you lemons, don’t you DARE make lemonade – make lemon cake. And on occasion, make Lemon & Gin Cake!
This particular cake is gluten-free as the friend in question is severely intolerant to that pesky little protein. Gluten-free flours tend be extremely absorbent and gluten-free cakes are notorious for being dry, icky sponges impersonating baked goods. To combat a potential dry crumb (every baker’s worst nightmare), the gin syrup is absolutely essential. Plus, y’know, it provides a lot of the gin element in this Lemon and Gin cake – duh! However, so terrified was I by the thought of a chewy, dry mess, that I added lemon curd as a filling and a topping.
Admittedly, I think the addition of the lemon curd did slightly overpower the gin elements of the cake as it’s such a strong flavour. According to the patrons of the party, this meant that the gin was most strongly detected in the aftertaste – but the reviewers were all drunk at this point anyway, they can’t be trusted (much).
If you’re not gluten-free and use ordinary wheat flour, I would still recommend keeping at least the gin syrup to give that little alcoholic tickle to your tastebuds. The lemon curd is optional – but oh-so-pretty!
Read through the instructions carefully before starting as there a quite a few elements to this lemony sunshine of a cake.
Got that? Great. Now go forth and bake!
Gluten-free Lemon & Gin Cake, with Gin Buttercream
(makes a two-tier 8-inch round cake)
(sponge, gin syrup & gin buttercream)
- 250g of Greek yogurt
- 145g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 265g gluten-free plain flour blend (such as Dove’s Farm) OR 240g of ordinary plain flour
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- Zest of 6 lemons
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tsp of good quality lemon extract
- 190g of golden caster sugar
- 250g softened unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 100ml water
- 100ml Gin
- 125ml lemon juice
- 170g unsalted butter
- 525g icing sugar
- 6-8 tbsp of Gin
- 1 jar of your favourite shop-bought or homemade lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 160C and grease & line your two 8″ sandwich tins.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (flour, almonds, baking powder & salt). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until it’s pale yellow & fluffy (about 3-4 mins).
- Crack 1 egg into the mixture, adding a tsp of flour to help prevent it from curdling. Mix until incorporated into the mixture. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs.
- Add in half the dry ingredients, and half the yoghurt. Mix until just combined, and repeat with the remaining halves.
- Add in the lemon juice and lemon extract & mix on medium for 1 minute.
- Carefully fold in the lemon zest with a metal spoon.
- Divide the cake batter between the two tins and bake for 60 mins, or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- For the syrup; heat the sugar, water & lemon juice in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from the heat and add in the Gin.
- Once the sponges are removed from the oven, pour over the Gin syrup while they’re still nestled in their tins. Leave to cool for 2 hours, including 1 hour in the fridge.
- Beat the the soften butter in a large bowl until very light and a “whippy” texture.
- Add in a 1/3 of the icing sugar at a time, mixing by hand (so that you don’t have mushroom clouds of icing sugar settling on your black granite worktops). It will be very clumpy and look like balls of butter rolled in icing sugar. Don’t panic!
- Using your electric mixer, beat the mixture for 3-4 mins and it will magically transform into delicious, fluffy buttercream.
- Add in the 6-8 tbsp of Gin and lemon juice. Please note, that this is quite a “wet” buttercream, and that 1 tbsp of Gin too far will result in a buttercream which is not of a piping consistency! If you’re unsure, add in the Gin 1 tbsp at a time.
- Beat for 2 mins with all ingredients.
Phew, that’s a lot of work! Let’s have a little cake break.
Ah. That’s better – a visual reminder that’s it’s all worth baking for! Now for the assembly of your lemony creation.
- Taking a cake board, dollop a small amount of buttercream onto the centre. This will add as a sugary, buttery adhesive for your cake to ensure that it doesn’t slide off the board.
- Having taken the sponges out of their cake tin jackets, place one sponge face-down onto the cake board.
- Using a pallet knife, spread a thin layer of buttercream around the edge of the cake in a circle. Leaving a gap, spread a smaller circle of buttercream in the centre of the cake. Fill the gap with some lip-smackingly zesty lemon curd.
- Place the second sponge face-down on top. Using a pallet knife, cover the sponge with a thin layer of buttercream; this is your crumb coat. Put in the fridge for 30 mins to “set”.
- Cover your cake with a thick layer of buttercream, smoothing it and making it as pretty as possible (TOP TIP: YouTube is fully of wonderful videos which perfectly demonstrate how to do this. Ultimately, it does come down to practice so I’m afraid you’re going to have to bake many cakes in order to become THE ICING MASTER). Put in fridge to “set” for another 30 mins.
- Time for the curd! Spoon the lemon curd onto the centre of the cake, and spread it outwards with the back of a spoon almost to the edge of the cake. But STAY AWAY FROM THE VERY EDGE or it might drip down the side and spoil your flawless buttercream.
- Using your favourite tip, pipe the remaining buttercream around the edge to hide the gap. Store in an air-tight container until 1-2 hours before serving time.
- Get crunk on cake.
What other boozy bakes would you like to see? My mother is keen for me to whip up some sort of coffee/Bailey’s creation, but I think I might want to try a Pink Glitter Champagne Cupcake (capital letters necessary to indicate how IMPORTANT this cupcake would be in my life, should it come to fruition).
Leave me a suggestion below!