Gin and Grapefruit Drizzle Cake

Any child of my mother must appreciate homemade baking and a good gin and tonic - marmite, too, for that matter. In this recipe, I bring together the baking and the gin (not, you’ll be relieved to hear, the marmite) with grapefruit to create a soft, fat-crumbed drizzle cake. Like the best drizzle cakes, it has a thick sugar crust, which reminds me of the deep layer of sugar that, as children, we spread on grapefruit halves, before leaving overnight to sweeten and soften for breakfast.

I think that the first crunch of sugar, followed by the bright citrus and the mellow hit of booze, could cheer even the darkest winter day. The flavour is gentle and, despite the sugar coat, not too sweet, so it can be eaten as happily at 11am with a cup of coffee, as it can at 5pm with a cup of tea. With a spoonful of fruit compote and another of creme fraiche, it also makes a simple dessert - perhaps enjoyed with a G&T.



For the cake:

  • 9oz (225g) self-raising flour
  • 6oz (170g) caster sugar
  • 6oz (170g) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • Grated zest of one grapefruit
  • 50ml gin
  • 50ml grapefruit juice

For the topping:

  • 5oz (140g) granulated sugar
  • 100 ml grapefruit juice (about 1/2 a grapefruit)
  • 50ml gin
  • 50ml tonic



  • Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin, leaving the baking parchment coming up and over the long edges of the tin to help you take out the cake later. 
  • Beat together the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add in the grapefruit zest and beat for another 30 seconds until it is well incorporated. 
  • In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with a fork. Then add to the cake mixture and beat until frothy and full of air. 
  • Sieve the flour on to the cake mixture and gently fold it in with a large metal spoon.
  • Combine the gin and grapefruit juice and, a little at a time, fold it into the mixture. It looks like a lot of liquid, but I promise it will incorporate. 
  • Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly and the top is golden and springs back when pressed gently. 
  • Whilst the cake is baking, place the gin, tonic and grapefruit juice in a small saucepan with a spoonful of the granulated sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir for one minute until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes
  • While the cake is still warm, prick holes in the top with a fork, sprinkle half the granulated sugar evenly over the cake and gradually spoon over half liquid slowly until absorbed. Repeat with the other half of the sugar and the liquid. Scoop any sugar that runs off the edges back on top of the cake. Again, it looks like a lot of liquid, but it will be absorbed and give a nice, moist texture. 
  • Use the edges of baking parchment to gently lift the loaf out of the tin and onto a cooling rack.
  • If you want the top to be very crusty, sprinkle on a little extra granulated sugar.
Gin and grapefruit cake