Gin, Dubonnet & lemon cake

by Juliet Sear

The Queen’s favourite cocktail in cake form

This royal favourite can be enjoyed as is, or as the middle tier of my celebratory cake: read the full article on how to make it.


For the syrup:
150ml tonic water
100g sugar
30 juniper berries, crushed
30ml gin

For the sponge:
350g soft butter
350g golden caster sugar
Approx 30 juniper berries, crushed finely
Zest of two lemons, grated
7 medium free-range eggs
350g self-raising flour

For the lemon curd:
30ml gin
150g lemon curd

For the butter cream:
100ml dubonnet
100g soft butter
200g icing sugar


Line two 7" round cake tins with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200C.

First make your gin and tonic syrup, ready for the cake once baked. Bring the tonic water, sugar and juniper berries to the boil and allow to reduce to about ⅔ of the original volume. Leave the mixture to cool, strain out the berries, then add the gin.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar, juniper berries and lemon zest together until very pale and fluffy, then slowly beat in the eggs until combined. Fold in the flour gently until just incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tins—½ the batter in each—and bake for approximately 30-40 mins, checking after 25 mins. A testing knife should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins, then turn out and remove the paper. Pierce some holes over the cake with a skewer or cocktail stick and generously douse in the gin and tonic syrup by brushing over liberally with a pastry brush. Allow to cool completely.

Bring the dubonnet to the boil and gently simmer down until it has reduced to a thicker mix of approx ½ the original volume. Leave to cool completely.

Slice each cake in ½ again through the centre (horizontally) so that you end up with four round cakes to layer. Place the first layer onto your cake board and stick with a little of the dubonnet butter cream. Spread over the layer with a thin covering of dubonnet icing.

On the second layer, spread the half that will sandwich onto the butter cream below with some of the gin and lemon curd. Lay the layer onto the butter cream sponge below and line up straight.

Continue the process of adding butter cream to the sponge and gin and lemon curd to the next layer until all 4 layers are back together. Coat over the whole sponge with the remaining butter cream and curd mixed together to crumb coat and place in the fridge to chill for an hour or so before any decoration—see my cake decoration article for details.

Recipe: Juliet Sear
Images: John Holdship