If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know of my affinity for all things British. I went to graduate school in England and return every year for an extended trip. Last year, I was in London during the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and in a strange twist of fate, returned for a reunion and was there when she died. Both were amazing experiences on opposite ends of the spectrum. The colorful flags and bunting and beautiful window displays celebrating 70 years on the throne, then the overwhelming outpouring of grief, the somber tributes in shop windows and the flow of people taking tributes to the parks. As I walked to the bus stop to meet friends for dinner, the announcement of her death was made (the bus driver had a tear in his eye). On the way home from dinner, all the bus shelters were lit up with a beautiful portrait of Her Majesty. I went to a festive street party in June and added my bouquet of flowers to the hundreds of thousands in Green Park in September. I cheered hip hip hooray for the Queen in the summer and toasted the King in fall. So now that the coronation of King Charles III is set to take place, I of course had to add to my collection of royal-themed recipes. Sadly, I won’t be in London during the coronation but will be back in June (you can follow along on Instagram)! I will be celebrating with a party here though.
This casually festive cake is features the flavors of the national tipple (I think), aromatic gin and sprightly tonic. The cake has a little hit of both with a nice lemon note (you could use lime or a combination) and the tender sponge is doused in a sweet gin and tonic syrup, The fluffy, rich icing has a nice tot of gin as well. I find this single layer cake easy to decorate and make as festive and fun as can be for any summer celebration. Use a good gin, but not necessarily your best (I used Hendrick’s) and a good tonic (like Fever Tree or Fentiman’s).
If you are planning a coronation celebration, check out my other royal recipes, Coronation Chicken Salad, Strawberry Elderflower Bakewell Tart, Victoria Sponge with Rose Petal Jam, Pimm’s Bars, Sticky Toffee Pudding, or Dundee Cake.
Gin and Tonic Cake
- For the Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon gin
1 Tablespoon tonic water
Zest from ½ a large lemon
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Syrup
4 Tablespoons gin
4 Tablespoons tonic water
Zest of ½ a lemon
½ cup granulated sugar
- For the Frosting
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from the zested lemons above)
3 Tablespoons gin
- For the Cake
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom and the sides. Spray the paper with cooking spray.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to break it up, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy and pale in color, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Add the lemon zest, gin and tonic and beat to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat to combine, scraping the bowl as needed. Spread the batter in the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 45 minutes until a tester inserted in the center come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes while you proceed with the syrup.
- For the Syrup
- Put the gin, tonic, lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling. Boil for 3 – 4 minutes until the liquid is slightly reduced and syrupy.
- Poke holes in the cake in the pan with a skewer or cake tester then spoon half of the syrup over the top. Leave to cool and soak for about five minutes, then remove the parchment from the sides of the pan and invert the pan onto a rack set over parchment paper or foil to catch drips. Poke the top of this side of the cake with the skewer, then spoon the remaining glaze over the surface, using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly over the cake. It is okay if some drips down the side, but try to keep most of it on the top. Leave to cool completely.
- For the Frosting
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle to break it up. Add the confectioners’ sugar a cup at a time, beating to combine and scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon juice and gin and beat until smooth and fluffy. Dollop the frosting over the top of the cake then use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer over the top of the cake.
- I found these charming sprinkles with lemon and lime slices and some jelly lemon and lime slices from a local confectioner.