Gluten-Free Tarragon and Gin Sponge Cake with Rose Scented Strawberries + Fresh Whipped Cream

If you guys didn’t already know, it is World Gin Day today. I had no idea that gin even had it’s own day until last week when Angela from Pâtisserie Makes Perfect, a brilliant food blogger I follow, mentioned it. Who knew, right?

Angela made the most gorgeous looking Gin and Tonic Layer Cake I have ever set eyes on. It is a citrus layer cake soaked in gin syrup filled with a gin and lime curd and covered in a lemon buttercream. To top it off, she dripped a lime coloured glaze over the top and finished the cake with beautiful little meringues. It completely inspired me and off I went to the kitchen to make something special to celebrate. Gin and tonic is a classic combination but I really wanted to try pairing gin with a few other seasonal products to really celebrate this truly English summer we’ve been having lately. 🙂 The dark coloured roses I planted a few years ago in the front garden of the flat (yup, just went right in there and started digging and planting), rosa rugosa, was in full bloom and I also had some highly scented strawberries we had picked and tarragon left in the fridge from a salad we had earlier in the week (btw tomatoes + tarragon = bliss). So, my plan was to bring all these wonderful ingredients together to create a little cake. So happy I did! Sweet, fruity, floral, aniseed-like and slightly piney. It was just so wonderful to try.

I noticed a few weeks ago that my blog really needed to have some more gluten-free recipes for people to attempt, especially (maybe) my sister, who’s husband happens to be a celiac. Since I’ve been wanting to try baking a GF cake for quite some time now, I thought this would be a great opportunity to do so. This sponge cake came out quite moist, light and not at all grainy like some GF cakes and breads I have tried in the past. Definitely a recipe I will be using or basing other future GF cakes I will be making in the future on.

Although the distillation process removes  gluten from the liquor, some celiacs and those sensitive to gluten may still react to the gin. However, I have since learnt that gin can also be made from potatoes and even corn, so if you still want to try this cake, try a potato/corn based gin instead.

Happy World Gin Day!!

Gluten-Free Tarragon and Gin Sponge Cake

Cooking time: 1+ hours plus cooling
Makes: 1 x 8inch cake


220g butter
220g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla bean extract
1 1/2tsp liquorice root powder
4tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped finely
220g rice flour
2tsp xanthan gum
30g cornstarch
2tsp baking powder
120ml gin
4 eggs
4tbsp whole milk
150g strawberries (for decorating)
400ml heavy cream (for decorating)

The night before, make both the coulis (see recipe below) and refrigerate covered in clingfilm until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-assisted) 350ºF. Line the bottom of a cake tin with parchment paper and set aside. Make the strawberry whipping cream (see recipe below) and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Begin to make the cake. Sieve the rice flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

Place the butter and sugar, along with the vanilla, liquorice powder and tarragon leaves into a bowl and whisk until well creamed. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk into the batter until smooth. Add the milk and gin and stir into the batter. Add the flour mixture and continue whisking for a further 5 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Note: at the 20 minute mark, check the cake and observe whether it is browning too fast and place an aluminium sheet over the top)

Meanwhile, make the syrup (see recipe below).

Remove from the oven and pour over the syrup on the top. When the syrup has been absorbed, run a knife around the edges and allow to cool slightly in the cake tin before removing and placing on a cooling rake. Cut the cake in half and set aside until completely cool.

When the cakes are completely cooled, fill the middle of the cake with the strawberry whipped cream. Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed and spoon over the top of the cake. Place the strawberries on top of the cream and pour the coulis over this. Eat immediately.

Rose Gin Syrup

Cooking time: 10 minutes
MakesL approximately 100ml

4tbsp gin
2tbsp water
1/2tsp rosewater
8tbsp sugar
1-2tbsp lemon juice

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium/low heat and stir until the sugar is all dissolved. Allow to come to a boil and do not stir for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Strawberry Whipped Cream

Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes: enough for 1 cake filling


100g strawberries, halved
250ml heavy cream
1tbsp caster sugar (optional)

Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Place the halved strawberries into a blender and blend until a thick liquid is formed. Pour this liquid into the cream, whisking until fulling incorporated and the cream is thick (add the sugar here, if desired). Place in the refrigerator until needed.

Rose and Strawberry Coulis

Cooking time: 10 minutes, plus cooling
Makes: approximately 60ml


350g strawberries, halved
1tsp lemon juice
1 handful of dark coloured rose petals, white tips removed (I used rosa rugosa)
3tbsp sugar
1/4tsp rosewater
1tsp vanilla
1tsp ambrette seeds (optional)

Place the rose petals and the sugar into a coffee grinder and pulse until the petals are shredded and the sugar begins to turn pink. Place the sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat along with the lemon juice, vanilla, rosewater, ambrette seeds (if using) and the strawberries. Stir until the strawberries begin to soften (5-10 minutes). Take off the heat and place in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a sieve and allow to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator. (Note: if the consistency is still too runny, simply place back into the saucepan and allow to come to a simmer, stirring continuously until desired thickness is reached).

Thank you for reading.
Enjoy x

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