totally gay old-fashioned

© Nick Loven

Vic and Ange are back in the UK! We stayed with these two fabulous women on our American adventure in 2011 and are ecstatic to have them back, naturally there was a massive family gathering, naturally I made a cake, and naturally it had to be somewhat alcoholic.

On asking Vic what her favourite cocktail was I got a response of "Vodka Martini, up with a twist, stirred not shaken". In cake form that means lemon drizzle with flavourless alcohol so I pushed her further, and got an answer of "Old fashioned" - bourbon with orange bitters. Now that's more cakeable.

© Nick Loven
Of course, we had to make ourselves several old-fashioneds in order to best figure out how to put this into a cake. There's something very butch about this cocktail, I felt positively powerful in the groin region while enjoying it, and I felt the cake needed to maintain as much "rraaargh" as possible to avoid being a disappointing shadow of the cocktail it was meant to emulate. That made the choice between a full on drizzle-style sponge and a light, airy genoise a relatively easy one, and also pushed me towards a more savory whipped cream rather than oh-so-sweet buttercream filling.

The cake is essentially a rich orange drizzle cake sponge using full on old-fashioned cocktail and orange juice drizzle and sugar dusting to give a sugar crystal crunch, and layered with orange and whiskey marmalade and whipped cream (laced with more cocktail!) before being adorned with jewels of fragmented meringue - rainbow coloured in honour of our guests. You can leave out the meringue but I love the fizz of it!. This really is an "ermahgerd" of a cake.

Meringues lovingly OCD'd by Nick
Nick Loven

Lydia's totally gay old-fashioned cocktail cake
Cake Batter
225g (8oz, 1 cup) butter or margarine
200g (¾ cup) brown sugar - I used half soft light brown sugar, half light brown muscovado sugar
280g (scant 2 cups) plain flour
© Nick Loven
6 eggs - 3 separated and 3 whole. If you're not making the meringue topping, use 4 whole eggs instead.
2 oranges - zest and juice required
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

"Old-fashioned" drizzle
4 dashes angostura bitters (don't worry it you don't have bitters, just leave it out)
100ml (4 oz, just under 7tbsp) bourbon whiskey (I used Jim Beam)
6 tbsp granulated sugar

3 egg whites
180g (1 cup confectioner's) icing sugar, sifted
Food colouring, if using (I used gel food colouring, worrying that liquid colouring will damage the meringue structure).

600ml (2½ cups) double (heavy) cream
4tbsp icing sugar
1tsp vanilla paste / seeds of one vanilla pod (optional)
50ml (2 oz, generous 3 tbsp) bourbon
6-8 tbsp marmalade with peel, I handily have homemade orange and whiskey marmalade that I'm a little bit addicted to.

orange peel to decorate

© Nick Loven

Preheat the oven to 160°C (roughly 310°F, Gas mark 2-3) and grease and flour two 7 or 8 inch cake tins.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the egg yolks, 1 tbsp of the flour, and the 3 whole eggs one by one, while mixing.

Fold in the dry ingredients together with the zest and then finally mix in 2 tbsp of the orange juice.
Separate into the two tins, smooth over (your batter should be quite thick) and bake for about 40-45 minutes.

Just before the cakes are ready, prepare the drizzle by mixing the bitters, whiskey, sugar and 4 tbsp of the squeezed orange juice in a saucepan and heat until it boils. Boil rapidly for about two minutes to reduce to a syrup.

When your cakes come out of the oven, immediately prick them all over (I use a knitting needle) and spoon half the boiled cocktail mix over each of the cakes.

Leave the cakes to cool in the tin, turn the oven down to 140°C (275°F Gas Mark 1) and leave the oven door open for awhile to help it cool for the meringues.

To make the meringues, line a baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the whites and sugar in a very clean bowl (any fat traces will prevent the egg whites from whisking up properly) until you get soft, shiny peaks. If colouring your meringues, separate the meringues into as many bowls as you're using colours. Mix in your colours and spoon onto the baking sheet, and once your oven has cooled to 140°C, bake for about 40 minutes then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there to cool.

If using meringues, leave assembly until just before serving otherwise they'll go soggy.

Whisk the double cream until you have soft peaks, then fold in the sugar, vanilla seeds / paste (if using), and whiskey. Crush your meringues lightly.

Cut your cake layers in half lengthways, and reassemble as a 4-layer cake with marmalade and cream between the layers. Cover the whole thing with the cream and the rest of the meringue.

Finally decorate with the orange peel and prepare yourself for the wide-eyed, cocktail-loving joy.

© Nick Loven

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