Valentines & lemon, elderflower & sloe gin cake

My husband & I are not massively into Valentine’s Day, but it is a nice excuse to have a bit of an occasion. Plus, we don’t often get fresh flowers, so it’s really nice to have some in the house. :)I’d bought some lamb & mint sausages at a local farmer’s market, so we had those for dinner with roasted leeks; we then went out with friends rather than going for a romantic meal. (We are going to do that tomorrow, us rebels!) I think it’s romantic enough that we bought each other the same gift – the new Belle & Sebastian CD. I also ventured into paper embroidery for a little gift for him, with mixed success at best.  I used some leftover paper from our wedding invitations to make a little card for his wallet that says ‘I love Mrs. Dumbelton’; I’ve made one that says ‘I love Mr. Dumbelton’ for me, too. I know, I know, super cheesy! But it seemed like something he’d like, and when I gave him to he did seem really pleased. The embroidery’s not great, to be honest, but I guess in this case it’s the thought that counts, right?

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I didn’t want the whole weekend to be about Valentine’s Day, though, and it has been a little while since I’ve baked. This cake was inspired by the sloe gin I made some for the first time ever this winter. I’m really bad at drinking straight alcohol, so I wanted to find a way to incorporate a bit of it into baking or cooking. I’ve had my eye on Pudding Lane’s gin & tonic cake for some time now & this seemed like the ideal opportunity. I had some elderflower left over from this summer, so I replaced the gin in the cake batter with that, and used slightly less lemon than recommended. I regret not using the recommended amount of lemon, though, and unfortunately the elderflower got a bit lost. I wanted to preserve the colour of the cake, so decided to incorporate the sloe gin as the drizzle instead of into the cake. However, I think this might have been a mistake. The drizzle was absolutely delicious, but didn’t sink as far into the cake as I would’ve liked. The flavour did work really well with the cake, so next time I think I will put a bit of the sloe gin in the cake itself so the flavour comes out more strongly. I also realised that I usually make a lemon yoghurt cake, and I think I prefer that to the butter-based recipe Pudding Lane used, which had a wonderful texture, but didn’t seem to have as much flavour to me. Next time I will try basing this on my usual lemon cake recipe. But the overall verdict is that the flavours are really yummy and this deserves to be made again! It was also lovely to spend the day listening to the new Belle & Sebastian album – I really recommend it.

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