The next Mad Men cakes are the Tom Collinses. Tricksy Tom Collinses. If you missed the first and second posts about the Mad Men cupcakes you can go back and check them out – the first post includes the basic sponge recipe that I split and flavoured three ways to give three different cocktail flavours, the second gives more detail about the Brandy Alexanders.
A Tom Collins is gin, lemon juice and soda – very simple, very classic. There is a variation which uses cucumber, which I really wanted to incorporate into my cupcakes, but after failed attempts with candied cucumber slices (not sweet enough), cucumber syrup and cucumber caramel shards, I gave up. It clearly wasn’t meant to be. I decided to make a juniper syrup to add to these cakes in place of actual gin – next time I’d just give myself a break and use the booze.
To make the juniper syrup, I lightly crushed juniper berries in the food processor, then mixed in a pot with a quarter cup each of sugar and eater. I set this over a low heat and brough to a simmer, then turned off the heat and left to infuse for several hours. I then blended the syrup to make it smooth, with just little flecks of juniper berry throughout, and used it in the cakes – four tablespoons of it, to be exact. I also added half a teaspoon of citric acid to give a sour and sharp note to the sponge, to match the flavours of the cocktail.
The juniper syrup gave the cakes a speckled appearance, which was nice in a way, as it made them look different from the other two flavours, but I’m not sold on it enough to do it again. I’ll stick with the real thing next time, and replace the juniper syrup with three tablespoons of a good quality gin.
For the Tom Collins frosting, I knew from the start that I wanted to make it lemony – I believe the young people call this a no brainer. To the basic buttercream I added the zest of one lemon, and the juice of half a lemon. In fact, it was the same lemon, that sounded like I was using lemons like there as no tomorrow. I reserved a big pinch of the zest to decorate the cakes with once they were finished.
Tomorrow is the last Mad Men post – Old Fashioneds, my favourites!