- Food & Drink
In this blog post, I’m mostly demonstrating how terrible I am at icing. Just look at this cake. The top slopes like a patched roof, all buckled and drooping. The frosting is smeared and mottled. I could claim that the speckles are vanilla seeds from posh white chocolate, but we all know I used Milky Bars and the frosting is freckled with cake crumbs.
I am terrible at cake decorating. Just awful. I have been on a couple of courses and they all end the same way: the entire class tops their gateaux with bouquets of delicate sugar roses while icing weeds run rampant across mine. I don’t have the patience for it. The finesse. I’m just so keen to get on with eating the cake that I slap on some icing with a trowel and carry it forth, hoping no one will look too closely if I’m quick enough with the cake knife.
I was inspired to make this cake by a box of fudge. Earlier this year Buttermilk made a limited edition gin-flavoured fudge, using Tarquin’s Cornish Dry Gin. A PR sent me a bag of the fudge, which I devoured, having a weakness for both fudge and gin. I considered trying to recreate it at home, but if I make a panful of fudge, then I eat a panful of fudge. Safer to make something I’m forced to share. Like a giant, badly iced cake.
I used this recipe as the basis for my cake, and flavoured it with gin, tonic and lemon. Because of all the lemon, I used the Italian Malfy Gin. The Amalfi zestiness in it helps carry the citrus flavour through the cake. Good alternatives would be Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell Gin or Berry Bros No 3 Gin. The syrup soaks into the sponge, so eat it within 48 hours.
Gin & Tonic Fudge Cake
300g salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g white chocolate
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
5 medium eggs
300g caster sugar
300g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
For the gin and tonic syrup
50g caster sugar
100ml gin (I used Malfy Gin)
200ml tonic water
Juice of 1 lemon
For the frosting:
75g plain flour
250ml whole milk
150g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g salted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Make the sponges: Chop the butter and chocolate into a pan. Gently heat for a few minutes till they are melted and combined. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool.
While the chocolate cools, grease 3 x 20cm sponge tins and line them with baking paper. Heat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4.
Using electric beaters (or a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease) beat the butter and chocolate together for 1-2 mins till smooth. Grate in the lemon zest. Crack in one egg and beat to combine. Add a couple of spoons of the sugar and beat again. Repeat, alternating the eggs and sugar, till you have added them all to the mixture.
Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add a small pinch of fine sea salt. Fold the flour into the cake mixture till it’s well mixed in. Divide the cake mixture between the tins. Bake for 25-30 mins till golden and risen. Cool them in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the gin and tonic syrup: Put all the syrup ingredients into a small pan. Gently heat till the sugar has dissolved (try not to stir it as you can end up with sugar stuck halfway up the pan). Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Take off the heat, pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
Make the frosting: Finely chop the chocolate and set aside. Pour the milk into a medium pan. Sift in the flour and whisk them together over a gentle heat till the milk looks like it is thickening. Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir till the chocolate has melted. Set the mixture aside to cool for 20 minutes.
At this stage you might want to have a gin and tonic and a sit down to recover and fortify yourself for the final stage.
In a large bowl, use electric beaters (or a hell of a lot of elbow grease) to beat the butter and sugar together for around 5 minutes till pale and fluffy. Slowly beat in the white chocolate mixture till you have a light, fluffy looking icing.
If your cakes have risen tops, slice them off so they are even. Devour these sliced off bits of cake because they are yours and yours alone.
Place one cake, cut side up, on a cake board or serving plate. Brush it with half the gin syrup. Spread a few spoonfuls of the icing over it. Top with the next cake, also cut side up. Brush with the rest of the syrup and spread with another couple of spoonfuls of icing.
Put the final cake on top, cut side down. Use a palette knife to cover the rest of the cake in icing the best way you know how. This cake will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Serve in slices with French 75s.