This cake really needs no explanation, because, well, what better things are there in the world than gin and sugar?
A couple of notes on ingredients: if you want to leave out the gin, this also makes a delicious lime alternative to your traditional lemon drizzle – simply skip the syrup step and leave the booze out of the icing. You’ll find juniper berries in the herbs and spices section of big supermarkets, but if you can’t get them, you can leave them out.
Now, without further ado…
For the sponge
2 tablespoons milk
10 juniper berries
150g unsalted softened butter
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the syrup
50g caster sugar
5 juniper berries
For the icing
200g icing sugar
1 tablespoon gin
Extra lime zest to decorate, if wished
Preheat your oven to 170°C fan and grease and line a loaf tin. Zest the limes, juice them and set aside the juice.
Gently heat the milk in a mug in the microwave (or on the hob) until warm. Lightly crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar then add them to the milk. Set aside to infuse.
Meanwhile, beat the sugar and butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a handheld beater until pale and fluffy. Weight out the dry ingredients and have ready in case the mixture starts to curdle when you add the eggs.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between every addition. Add a spoon of dry ingredients to bring the batter back together if it begins to curdle (having your butter and eggs both at room temperature before you begin should help prevent it).
Strain the juniper berries out of the milk and discard. Add the milk to the mixture, along with the lime zest. Beat to combine.
Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until it is golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, lightly crush the juniper berries for the syrup in a pestle and mortar. Place them and the rest of the ingredients for the drizzle in a nonstick pan and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for around five minutes until it reduces by about half.
Once the cake is out of the oven, pierce all over with a skewer or knife (to allow the syrup to penetrate more easily). Leave it in the tin. Sieve the syrup to remove the juniper berries and pour it over the sponge, making sure it’s fairly evenly distributed.
Leave the cake to soak and cool in the tin while you prepare the icing. Simply mix together the icing sugar, reserved lime juice and gin until smooth. If it looks too runny, add a little sugar to stiffen it up – the consistency will vary a little depending on how much juice you get out of your limes.
Keeping the cake in the tin, pour the icing over the top and spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle the top with extra lime zest, if wished. Leave to set completely in the tin before removing and peeling off the paper to serve.