It was a quiet weekend – well, a quiet weekend as long as you weren’t driving at Silverstone , riding in the Tour de France or playing on Centre Court. As I was doing none of these things, I was having a quiet weekend and on quiet weekends, I often take the opportunity to bake and I knew what I wanted to tackle this weekend.
You see, earlier this week a friend from work brought a recipe to my attention – a recipe for Gin and Tonic cake. over on Pudding Lane, a British cooking blog. Gin and Tonic? A drink cake? I was not unfamiliar with the booze soaked cake concept. Remind me to tell you about effect of rum soaked pound cake on people from my past. It’s terribly amusing. But that’s for another time. I pondered the cake. I read the recipe. I decided that this was something I was going to try. After all, my in-laws and a good many of my acquaintances are all about a good gin and tonic. To here them discuss it, it sounds the most refreshing drink in the history of drink. So, it sounded like a great idea for summer cake. It was a classic pound cake from a proportion point of view and I’m all about pound cakes as many of you know.
So Gin and Tonic cake was my intention. Until Saturday. When I started to think, “well, but I don’t drink gin and tonic. Why couldn’t I swap in the making of one of my drinks?” And then it occurred to me, the lemon-infused vodka!
You see, several weeks back, we’d taken some half decent vodka, popped a mess-o-lemon rinds and a bit of bruised lemon grass into the bottle and left it to infused. We tasted it. DAMN it was smooth. It eventually took on SO much flavor from the lemon rinds that you could easily have just popped an ice cube into it and enjoyed it with no mixer at all. What about a twist on the drink in cake form?A Lemon Vodka Twist!
And so I did. I made a few changes beyond the choice of booze. I used caster sugar instead of granulated for the drizzle (I find it dissolves a bit better). I used SLIGHLTY less lemon juice since the lemonyness of the vodka was VERY intense.
LEMON VODKA TWIST CAKE
- 4 eggs, weighed in the shells
- equal weight of:
- caster sugar (that’s super-fine sugar if you’re in the US)
- self-raising flour
- 2 lemons – zest of one, juice of two
- 10 or so shots of lemon infused vodka (a shot =25ml)
- 150g caster sugar (you can use granulated if you like – table sugar if you’re in the US)
For the cake:
- Make sure eggs are at room temperature and butter is softened. Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Weigh your eggs in their shells, and make a note of the exact weight. (Remember – a classic pound cake is all about equal proportions)
- Weigh out same weight of butter and caster sugar. Cream together until light, fluffy and pale. (This is when the softened butter makes life easier – especially if you’re me and you like to do all this creaming and whisking by hand.)
- Crack in the eggs, and beat until combined. (The goal here is as much smoothness as you can get)
- Sieve in the flour, mix again. (I know sieving is a pain – and strictly speaking, you don’t have to. I often don’t. But I did it this time since I wanted a really smooth batter and sieving is another way of achieving that.)
- Grate in the zest of one lemon and stir through the juice of that same lemon plus 3-4 shots of the vodka. (The batter is going to suddenly look AWFUL. It’s going to look uneven, watery, lumpy and weirdly translucent at the same time. Do not panic. Mix. Mix steadily and calmly. The smoothness will return.)
- Then pour into a lined 1kg loaf tin. (I used a silicon loaf. You can use a tin. Your cake might be a smidgen higher than mine if you do. The silicon allows the cake to bulge slightly on the sides.)
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the cake passes the knife test. (All ovens vary but 45 minutes is when yo need to start keeping a close eye on the situation. Mine took slightly longer than 45 minutes but then, having baked in it quite a bit I knew it would. Note to self: get oven re-sealed.)
- Remove from the oven, and set aside while you make the drizzle.
For the drizzle:
- Combine the sugar, rest of the vodka and juice of remaining lemon in a bowl.
- Prick the surface of the cake with a fork or skewer, then pour over the drizzle.
Let the whole thing cool completely. It came out of the loaf tin brilliantly (thank goodness for silicon bakeware, that’s my position) and is cooling. Initial (very light) dousing with drizzle happened and has soaked in. When cooling complete, rest of drizzle will be poured along top.
Slice and enjoy. I know I did. It was amazing (couldn’t wait until after dinner). You definitely get the lemon and then there’s “something else there” (which obviously is the remaining waft of the vodka though you don’t taste vodka and the alcohol has all cooked off). Texture-wise this is one of the softest cakes and most stable crumb-structures I have ever made and the drizzle has soaked into the top third perfectly. And now if you will excuse me, I’m gonna go finish this slice.