Recipe: Saffron, gin and lemon cake

PUBLISHED: 17:57 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:57 22 November 2017




Use two delicious local ingredients to make this lemon drizzle cake with a twist.

I’m a bit of a chocolate fiend. But when it comes to cake, the chocolate variety ranks pretty low on my favourites list because, well, I’m fussy.

I’ve had too many disappointing choccie cakes. Some so weak with cocoa it’s barely perceptible. Chocolate fudge cake with icing so sickly I can barely manage to finish one bite. And don’t even get me started on cakes made with chocolate flavoured cake covering!

There are three sponges I hanker for more than anything else. Coffee cake (the coffee has to be strong), ginger cake (or parkin) and, most revered of all, lemon drizzle cake.

To me, lemon drizzle is the perfect tea table centrepiece. It’s sweet, sharp, buttery, sticky and light all at once. It’s proper WI fare. Homely and familiar.

So when I set out to make a different kind of lemon drizzle, I wanted to stay as true to the cake as possible, while adding a local twist.

Earlier in the year I ate a beautiful saffron and lemon polenta cake at G&T cafe in Yoxford (which went on to win Best Cafe in the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards). It was gorgeously squidgy and the unique, almost medicinal note of the saffron gave it an extra lift.

And what goes well with lemons? Well it has to be gin doesn’t it?

I didn’t have to travel far for the magical additions I needed. Dr Sally Francis has been farming the crocus that produces saffron in Norfolk for years. The strands of Norfolk Saffron are exceptionally fresh, meaning only the teeniest amount is required for them to give up their flavour. And the colour the saffron imparts is like sunshine.

In this cake’s drizzle I’ve used Jonathan Redding’s Norfolk Gin. The design of the bottle alone is a reason to buy this stuff - it’s so gorgeously rustic I’ve used mine as a vase on the kitchen windowsill. Norfolk Gin has an exotic hit of spice to it and is great for those who aren’t so keen on top heavy juniper notes. The initial scent and flavour is of cardamom and coriander, before a layer of juniper and perfume of citrus come through.

The end result is a fluffy, heavily scented cake that’ll bring a bit of brightness to your kitchen on a dull day. It’s not half bad with a gin and tonic on the side either.

Saffron, gin and lemon cake


175g butter

175g caster sugar

2 lemons

1tsp lemon extract

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

Large pinch Norfolk saffron


For the drizzle:

100g extra caster sugar

100ml Norfolk gin

Small pinch saffron


Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Warm a couple of tablespoons of milk and add the saffron. Allow to steep to bring out the colour.

In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract then whisk in the eggs. Sift over the flour and mix until creamy. Add the milk and saffron mix and combine.

Spoon into your tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean without any mixture on it.

While the cake is cooking make the drizzle. Place the sugar, saffron and juice of one of the lemons in a saucepan and boil to reduce by half. Add the in and reduce by half again.

Once the cake is cooked pierce it all over with a skewer and pour the syrup over evenly. Allow to cool in the tin, then remove and serve.

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