Thursday, 29 May 2008

Sloe Dive

Last winter I decided to make my own sloe gin. After stumbling across a few blackthorn bushes in local woodland, literally 300 yards from my home, my wife and I decided to risk permanent scarring for the sake of our favourite tipple. 8 months on, we are still enjoying our efforts, but the demi john had to be emptied for use elsewhere which left me with a bit of a dilemma; what was I to do with the hundreds of gin swollen berries?

If you have ever tasted a sloe berry picked fresh from a bush, you are unlikely to forget the experience. They are so acrid that just one nibble and your mouth seizes up into a dry mass. Horrendous. Quite how such a nasty tasting berry infuses gin with sensuous tastes and smells is beyond me but the miracle does happen. The process also takes away any lingering bitterness in the berry and what you are left with is a pleasant, sweet and chewy berry with the exception of a large stone.

I guessed that the delicious left over’s would be more suited to a boozy cake than the compost heap. What I didn't guess was one hour of stone picking which has left me with stained fingers (if you can't be bothered with this, steep some currants and sultanas in gin overnight to replace). The resulting cake was worth all of the effort though. Moist and crumbly, heady and sensuous with the unmistakeable hit of sloe gin with each mouthful. One to hide from the nipper but one for us adults to indulge in for a lovely alternative take on a typical fruit cake. We ate ours with chilled shots of sloe gin, and the memories of this unexpected invention will linger long after the stains in my fingers are gone come sloe picking time at the end of the year. Dive in.

Sloe Berry Loaf Cake

75g Demerara sugar
75g muscovado sugar
150g butter or margarine (I actually used low fat marg and it was perfect!)
200g sloe berries from home made sloe gin, stones removed
Half tsp cinnamon
A grating of nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
A small glass of sloe gin
150g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 eggs

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C, GM3. Butter and line a medium loaf tin.
2 - Put the sugars, butter, berries and spices into a pan and gently heat until melted and well combined. Let it cool a little.
3 - Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Tip in the ground almonds and pour in the contents of the pan. Stir thoroughly until combined.
4 - Crack in the eggs and beat in until combined. Finally, stir in the gin.
5 - Pour into the prepared loaf tin, sprinkle with a little Demerara sugar and bake on the middle shelf for 50-60 minutes.
6 - Allow to cool slightly then turn onto a wire rack. This cake will keep well wrapped in shrink wrap and foil for 3-4 weeks and will improve with age.


Peter M said...

I, my friend, would be very interested in hearing/reading about how you made your own gin!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I love the whole process of making sloe gin starting with the long walks, pockets stuffed with bags to be filled, to the end result and drinking it of course.
Making cake with the sloes sounds like a great idea too.

Joanna said...

BRILLIANT ... another good thing is to put them in an adults-only batch of flapjacks


Wendy said...

A friend's dog came in from the garden one night walking strangely. Within half an hour it vomitted and spent the rest of the night howling quietly. Only the next day did my friend find out that the dog had stuck it's head through their hedge and munched it's way through swollen sloe berries on the neighbour's compost pile!

Jan said...

That cake sounds divine. Sloe gin Mmmm, and cake, lovely.

Anonymous said...

I am with Peter M on this one - go on - tell us your gin secrets.

Sylvie said...

Oh I just got rid of all my sloe berries from the last lot of sloe gin/sloe vodka. I'll have to try it next time round!

Chef Jeena said...

Sounds fabulous David. :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I wish I could find sloes around here. Wherever I've lived, I've never had any near me! I adore sloe gin, and would love to try this cake...

Celia Hart said...

Oh that cake looks so good, just waiting for a nice cup of tea!

Like Sylvie our sloes (and damsons) went on the compost heap this year! For a change we made sloe and damson vodka last Autumn. It's good stuff and an amazing colour!!!!
Can I recommend home made cherry brandy - you'll be blown away!


Abitofafoodie said...

Just getting to the end of my batch of sloe gin and was wondering what to do with the berries - this sounds amazing. I think I have to try it. Although the thought of stoning all those berries is not so appealing. Looks like it was worth it though. Yum.

David Hall said...

Peter/GBVC - I will leave the sloe gin making until November time when I make the next batch if that is okay. Then with sloes around, people will hopefully make some!

Amanda - the process is amazing, it even seems to make t taste better if that is possible!

Joanna - wish I had thought of that, I still had a load left over and was sick of stoning!

Wendy - poor old doggy!

Jan - a top combo

Sylvie - drat and double drat!

Jeena - thanks

FOS - keep looking, you will be surprised how common they are, check all hedgegrows

Celia - cherries are out soon, PLEASE send me your recipe!!

Antonia - worth every stained finger, honest!

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Lovely David! It looks really moist and tasty. A very enjoyable post :)

Rosie said...

I have always wanted to make sloe gin David and never have yet!! That cake looks divine mmmmmmm...

Rosie x

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Pig in the Kitchen said...

oooo, I love this! I was trying to think of a quicker way to remove the stones from the sloes. My mum used to have a weird machine lined with - i think - sandpaper that she used to get the skin of new potatoes. I wonder if that would work? Perhaps putting them thru a juicer? or would that knacker the juicer? Anyway, fab recipe, and adding you to my blogroll. Hic.

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