March is one of those months to be endured, rather than enjoyed. Maybe down in South UK, Spring is starting to bloom. But up here, we have to make do with a few trophy daffodils amongst the muddy turf. Our grass has not yet recovered from a Winter under sleet and snow, covertly being torn up by happy dogs’ paws.
This is a recipe that will help you through. I’ll admit to it proving popular in pretty much any month, but it’s especially suited to now. And although I’ve referenced ‘Tonic’, this is an entirely optional ingredient. Why dilute the enjoyment?
Obviously, I recommend you don’t enjoy this cake to excess. Have a wee piece. Don’t give any to children, for this has significant alcohol in it. And most of all, don’t drive. But these prerequisites for enjoyment are worth it, because combining alcohol and baking reaps many rewards. The flavour of the Gin works so well, cutting straight through the richness of the sponge.
And who’d have a gin and tonic without a slice of lemon? You can use the last step in recipe to make candied citrus fruits of any variety – grapefruit is one of my favourites.
First, preheat your oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas 3. Line a large (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper (non-stick greaseproof paper) – there’s no need to grease it.
Make the cake. Start by weighing your butter out into a medium or large bowl. If it’s not soft, buzz it in the microwave until it is nearly, but not quite, melted. Add your sugar and eggs and whisk these all together until they are totally combined.
Add your flour and baking powder and gently stir them in with a large wooden or metal spoon – don’t overmix or you’ll end up with a tough, bready cake. It should only be mixed until there are no lumps, and no more.
Transfer your mix to your lined tin and place in the oven – you’ll want to bake it for at least 40 minutes, but it could easily take up to 50. It’s done when it’s golden brown and a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean.
Once it’s done, make your drizzle. Do this by mixing your Gin, tonic and sugar together in a bowl until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Pour this on top of your cake, whilst it’s still in its tin and warm.
Finally, make the candied fruit. Chop your lemon into thin slices, then place these in a saucepan with your sugar and water. Bring this to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring gently. Once it’s simmering, don’t stir it. Keep boiling until the pith of the fruit has become nice and shiny, and the water has reduced down to almost nothing. Add these slices on top, and serve. With a G&T, of course.
If you want a cake for kids and adults alike, you can conjure the spirit of a G&T by replacing all the gin in this recipe with 75ml of Tonic Water and the juice of one lemon.