Just because I can’t drink at the mo doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy good products. I sniff Andrew’s wine when he opens a good Malbec and it’s almost as good as drinking it. When I cook with spirits I taste a tablespoon (my limit before it makes me iffy) to get a good idea of of the flavour and what ingredients I can make it work with. So it was that the idea for this gin and orange cake was born from a single sip of the good stuff!
Here I used Brockmans Gin.* One of the best gins I’ve tasted because it’s got an actual citrus punch. Its got orange and lemon peels and blackberries; there is a real zing to it. The botanicals are the perfect partner for blood orange. I thought that it might get lost in a chocolate brownie, my first choice for almost every baking scenario, so my thoughts turned to the classic pound cake style sponge.
I decided to try and keep it moist with buttermilk and even if I do say so myself, it was bob-on. This is now my go to sponge recipe – I may try and adapt it for a chocolate cake soon as well.
Gin runs through the cake, the syrup and the icing – so one for the grown-ups only!
Ok so I know that it’s the end of blood orange season as I write but life’s been busy. But blood orange season comes every year so this is a keeper! I love blood oranges – eating them, juicing them, cooking with them. For the rest of the year I will choose a clementine or mandarin over an actual orange for eating, but I am happy as a pig in mud when I’m eating a blood orange over the sink to catch the juice! Don’t worry though, you can still make this with normal oranges – see my suggestions in the recipe.
This recipe is the perfect quantity for my Bundt tins. It also makes two 2lb loaves (ie the normal size loaf tin) so you could make two and freeze one for a day which needs gin!
Had I longer, and more oranges, I would have caramelised some for the top – ooh that would be good.
Anyway, I’ve a couple of oranges left, so if anyone needs me, I will be standing over the sink eating them!
Gin and Orange Cake
Use a zesty gin such as Brockmans so that the flavour really comes through. Serve with a G&T or an earl grey cuppa.
For the cakes
- 400 g caster sugar
- 250 g unsalted butter cut in to small cubes
- 4 large eggs gently beaten
- 2 Oranges/blood oranges: zest of all and juice of 1
- 4 tbsp gin
- 150 ml buttermilk
- 400 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the syrup
- Juice 2 oranges/blood orange use the oranges you zest for the cake
- Caster sugar
- 4 tbsp gin
For the icing
- 140 g icing sugar sieved
- 4 tbsp gin
- 4 tbsp syrup
Ensure everything is at room temperature
Line two 2lb/900g loaf tins or grease and flour your Bundt tin
Preheat oven to 150c
Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, beat the sugar, butter and orange zest together until light in colour and fluffy- it will take a few minutes so be patient!
On a low speed add the buttermilk, eggs and gin, one at a time. Scrape the bowl down if needed and then add the juice of one orange. It may look a bit curdled but don’t panic.
Add the flour and baking powder and beat gently until all mixed smooth.
Tip into lined loaf tins or your Bundt tin, smooth the top and bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
While it is baking, juice the two other oranges, and weigh the juice into a small saucepan. Add the same weight of caster sugar and 4 tbsp of gin.
Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and simmer until sugar has dissolved and left a thickish syrup- just a couple of minutes.
Put 4tbsp of syrup aside to use in the icing. When the cake comes out of the oven, use your skewer to prick holes into the surface. While it is still hot, pour over the syrup slowly. Wait for it to seep into the cake and then add more until you have used it all up.
If you've made a Bundt, leave in the tin for 15 -20 minutes before you turn out onto a rack. Then you can pour the syrup slowly over the top.
Place the cake on to a rack to cool.
While the cake cools make the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the syrup and mix. Then add gin until you get a thick pouring consistency.
Drizzle the icing over your cooled cake just before serving.
Blood oranges make this cake a tangy treat, but for the rest of the year use the tangiest oranges you can find, or add a squeeze of lemon. Alternatively use an orange / pink grapefruit mix.
Don't be afraid of letting some of the fruit flesh fall into the pan when making the syrup. It looks great when it settles onto the cake and adds chewy little fruit bombs which look and taste great.