I made these little
Sometimes, I wish it were acceptable practice in blogging to just post pretty pictures for your enjoyment. Mostly, I just find myself currently tapped out of worthy words. Everything even remotely eloquent (and plenty that's not) has been going into the thesis-writing process, and I find that almost nothing is left at the end of the day when I have a little time to think about other things, like cake.
Let's see... but what can I tell you about these little cakelettes? I discovered the incredible fragrance of gin only recently. I don't really drink much--most of my liquor cabinet is used for baking purposes--, and so up until a few months ago, I'd only ever written gin off as another clear-colored liquor that, like vodka, must be flavorless. Was I ever wrong! Between its almost-floral fragrance and the woodsy kick of juniper, I'm now quite fascinated by the unique flavor combinations of this liquor. So naturally, I had to put it into cake form, making a play on the classic gin and tonic combination: tonic and lime cakes with gin-soaked strawberries.
For desserts like this, I like to look for the tiniest strawberries available at the market. These are usually the ones that turn out deep red, with very little white on the inside, and their sweetness plays perfectly with the spiciness of the gin. The cakes are a variation on a simple pound cake theme, except with a bit of bitterness from the tonic water and a hit of brightness from the lime zest. The bitterness in the cake is offset by eating it with mounds of boozy, sweetened, juicy strawberries.... the perfect excuse for combining afternoon tea time with gin-and-tonic-o'clock.
Read on for recipe....
Strawberry gin and tonic cake
makes sixteen 3.5-inch brioche molds, or two 6.5-inch brioche molds
313 g (2½ cups) all-purpose flour
2½ tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
zest of 2 limes
10 juniper berries
200 g (1 cup) sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbspn lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ cup tonic water (fresh, not flat)
2 punnets strawberries
2 Tbspn gin
2 Tbspn sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the insides of the molds. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries finely with the lime zest. Rub the berries and zest into the sugar with your fingers.
4. In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until pale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Combine the lime juice and tonic water in a separate container. In three additions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the tonic water and lime juice in between. Beat well, but do not overmix.
6. Divide the batter between the molds. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes for small cakes and 45 to 50 minutes for large cakes. If baking large cakes, cover lightly with a piece of tin foil about 30 minutes into baking so that the tops don't burn. Cakes are done with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the tins and let cool completely on the wire rack.
8. About 20 minutes prior to serving, stem and quarter (or halve) the strawberries. Mix with the gin and sugar, and let sit for about 10 to 20 minutes. Serve with the cakes and, if desired, soft-whipped cream.