Tom Collins Cake

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The humble lemon has been occupying my kitchen a lot recently. Tarts, blondies, pasta dishes, even roast dinners have all been improved by this cheeky little fruit. Lemon is the perfect flavour for this time of year; the colour, the fragrance and the taste are reminiscent of long summer days, which is all I can think about now that I've seen the first few peeks of sunshine.

Lemon drizzle is one of those nostalgic cakes, something our mothers and grandmothers (and occasionally our fathers and grandfathers, depending on who wore the apron) whipped up to serve friends and guests. It was one of my favourites as a child - the stick sweetness of the sponge translating into sticky fingers and sweet smiles if I was presented with a slice. More often than not in our house it was shop-bought, but the occasions where time and patience allowed just proved that home-made was far superior. This is actually one of the simplest cakes to make, almost impossible to mess up. A basic lemon drizzle cake should be tucked away in your repertoire ready for all those impromptu tea parties (or, more realistically, for the office bake sale).

This isn't just a basic lemon drizzle cake, though. Those of you who know your cocktail menus well might have guessed that there's a naughty little addition of gin in the glaze. Just enough to add interest, not enough to stop you from driving home afterwards (although better safe than sorry). You can leave it out and replace with the juice of another lemon for something a little more wholesome, but if you do take the plunge then I think you won't regret it. Paul, who is often lacklustre about my baking unless it involves copious amounts of chocolate, declared this to be the best cake I've ever made. It's the gin that makes it.

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You'll need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g butter (room temperature, so it's easy to mix!)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 25ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin.

2. In a big bowl, combine the eggs, flour, sugar, butter and lemon zest. Cream together until you get a smooth batter.

3. Pour the cake mix into the tin and pop in the oven for 40 minutes.

4. Check if it's done by inserting a knife or a skewer into the fattest part of the cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is done. If not, pop it back in for 5-10 minutes.

5. Mix up your gin glaze! Just pop your icing sugar, lemon juice and gin all in a bowl and stir together until smooth.

6. Poke holes in your warm sponge cake using a knife or a skewer. Go crazy with it! Pour over the glaze and leave to sink in.

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7. Once your cake is cool, remove from the tin and cut into slices. Serve with a gin & tonic for extra gin-ny goodness!

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