In the Kitchen
I very seldom drink spirits - wine is my choice of libation. Spirits, to me, are a reminder of the never-to-be-forgotten 1980s. However, on occasion, I really fancy a gin and tonic.
The enchanting Hippopotamus Bar at Museum Hotel is my favourite haunt when a gin and tonic urge hits. Among a range of gins, including the very zesty Lighthouse Gin from Greytown, they offer Saffron Gin from the Dijon region in France. Saffron colours it and, with other herbs and spices, also flavours it. The gin is wildly herbaceous and very oily.
There is knack to making an outstanding gin and tonic. Fill a tumbler with ice, free pour gin of choice and add tonic water from a freshly opened bottle.
Rather than swizzling or stirring, pour contents of the tumbler into another tumbler and then back into the original tumbler. Add lemon twist and enjoy immediately.
Oh and, by the way, happy baking.
GIN AND TONIC BIRTHDAY CAKE WITH SUGARED FRUIT
Serves 20 to 25
This is a two-tiered birthday cake designed for grown-ups. Enjoy in the afternoon with tea, or serve for dessert with whipped cream.
Ingredients Gin and tonic cakes (drenched with gin and tonic syrup as per recipe)
Gin and tonic drizzle
Trim bases of cakes, if necessary, to make them even height. Place larger cake on to cake stand or cake plate. Centre smaller cake on top of larger cake.
Pour gin and tonic drizzle over top cake and let it drizzle onto second cake. Spread drizzle to form a thin layer over the two cakes. Let drizzle dry for an hour before decorating with sugared fruits.
Place sugared fruits decoratively on top cake and around top edge of bottom cake.
GIN AND TONIC CAKES
One 25-centimetre round cake and one 17cm round cake
This is a recipe for two cakes which are assembled into a two- tiered birthday cake.
Ingredients 415g butter, diced and softened
660g (3 cups) caster sugar
25ml (1 Tbsp + 2 tsp) gin
25ml (1 Tbsp + 2 tsp) tonic water
finely grated zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges
420g (3 cups) flour
17g (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) baking powder
Gin and tonic syrup
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Lightly grease one 25cm round cake tin and one 17cm round cake tin with baking spray or additional butter.
Place butter and sugar into bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until pale and creamy.
Break eggs into a jug and lightly beat. Pour them into the bowl while the mixer is slowly running. Add gin, tonic and zest and beat to combine.
Pour contents of mixer bowl into a large mixing bowl. Sift flour and baking powder into bowl and fold ingredients together.
Pour mixture into prepared tins, aiming for each tin to have a similar depth of batter.
Place into oven and bake smaller cake for 40 to 50 minutes and larger cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until skewers inserted come out clean.
Place on to a cooking rack and rest for five to 10 minutes.
While cakes are still warm and in the tins, pour cold gin and tonic syrup over them, spreading if necessary to ensure an even coating.
Cool and remove cakes from tins.
Store loosely covered at room temperature.
GIN AND TONIC SYRUP
180ml ( cup + 2 Tbsp) gin
50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) tonic
250g (1 + cups) sugar
Finely grated zest 2 lemons
Place gin, tonic, sugar and zest into a small saucepan set over a low heat.
Stir until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat and boil gently for five minutes or until a light syrupy consistency is achieved.
GIN AND TONIC DRIZZLE
380g (2 cups) icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp lemon zest
35ml (2 Tbsp + 1 tsp) gin
35ml (2 Tbsp + 1 tsp) tonic
20ml (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) extra light olive oil or canola oil
Place ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Fruit can be sugared for up to two days ahead.
Selection of fresh small fruits with skins on (eg small mandarins, kumquats, grapes, fresh figs, fresh cranberries, kiwi berries)
Small citrus leaves, if possible
1 egg white, lightly whisked
210g (1 cup) caster sugar
Wash and thoroughly dry all fruit and leaves.
Using a pastry brush, brush fruit and leaves with egg white. Shake off any excess.
Place sugar on a tray. Dip and drag fruit and leaves through sugar, coating each one.
Set fruit aside on a dry tray at room temperature for at least two hours or overnight before decorating the cake. Do not refrigerate.
- The Dominion Post