Gin and Tonic Cake

I belong to the Kings Hill Rotary Club and it is our tradition, when it is a member’s birthday to buy them cupcakes to celebrate.  Tomorrow is our president, Sharon’s, birthday and because we are in lockdown, I couldn’t buy cupcakes so decided to make some instead.

I made this as a loaf and some cupcakes – mainly because what I thought was some icing sugar in a jar at the back of my pantry turned out to be cornflour and therefore I didn’t have enough to ice a full cake, so I only had just enough icing sugar for the traditional two cupcakes – the loaf will have to wait until I get a shopping delivery to be iced.

If you don’t have margarine, you can just use butter but according to my grandmother and the great Mary Berry, half and half is best.  I saw Mary Berry do a blind taste test on Michel Roux Jr and he was shocked to find himself agreeing!

One of the group said that it was a shame you can’t buy gin and tonic cake when I asked what flavour to make – so consider this challenge accepted!

Ingredients – for the cake

200g caster sugar

100g butter

100g margarine

Zest of one unwaxed lemon

4 medium sized eggs

200g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

125ml tonic water

50ml gin

For the lemon decoration

Finely sliced lemon (I used the one I had zested)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

100ml tonic water

2 tablespoons gin

For the icing

100g icing sugar 

1 tablespoon gin

Splash lemon juice

For the drizzle if no icing!

100g granulated sugar

50ml tonic water

50ml gin

15ml lemon juice


  • Preheat the oven to 170C fan and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper
  • In a large bowl cream together the butter, margarine, sugar and lemon zest
  • Whisk in a tablespoon of flour (another thing my grandmother always told me to do – something to do with stopping the eggs curdling)
  • Whisk in the eggs and then the gin and tonic
  • Gently fold in the flour and baking powder
  • Tip the mixture into the loaf tin then bake for 30 minutes when the cake will have started to brown slightly and will bounce back to the touch, a cocktail stick should come away clean.
  • Whilst the cake is baking, put the sugar for the lemons in a small shallow pan with the gin and tonic and stir over a medium heat until dissolved
  • Put the lemon slices in the pan and bring to a simmer until the syrup has reduced to a thick sticky consistency turning the lemon slices at least once
  • Remove the lemon slices and then add the remaining ingredients for the drizzle and bring back to a simmer and reduce by about half
  • When you remove the cake from the oven, leave in the tin and place on a heat proof board
  • Make several holes in the cake with a skewer and pour over the drizzle
  • Arrange the lemon slices along the centre of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.
  • If you are going to ice the cake, stir the gin, lemon juice and icing sugar together into a thick but smooth paste, add a little more juice if it feels too thick
  • Dip a butter knife into a cup of hot water and then use to spread the icing paste evenly over the cake and then arrange the lemons on top
  • Serve and enjoy!

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