Preheat the oven to 190C / 170C fan / gas mark 5. Grease and line three 20cm loose-bottom cake tins. You can bake this with only one tin, but it will triple your baking time. Meanwhile, leave your chopped dates to soak in the gin.
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix slowly to combine. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles sand. Then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add the treacle and mix until well combined. Add the milk and orange zest and beat together until the cake mixture is smooth. Strain the chopped dates and set the leftover liquid aside. Fold the dates into the cake mixture. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes before leaving to cool on a wire rack. Level off the tops of the cake with a bread knife or a wire slicer.
Whilst the cakes cool, prepare the gin syrup. Add the leftover gin from the dates, along with caster sugar and orange juice, to a saucepan. Set over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and allow to boil for two minutes until the syrup has thickened slightly. Remove the syrup from the heat and bruch over the top of the cakes using a pastry brush.
To make the frosting, whip the double cream and icing sugar until you have soft peaks. In another bowl, whip cream cheese and ground cinnamon until soft and fluffy. Slowly fold in the whipped cream and combine, making sure you don't whip for too long.
When you are ready to construct your cake, place the first sponge on a cake decorating turntable or a cake stand. Add a generous amount of frosting to the bottom cake layer and level using a spatula. Top with the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer and smooth the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake using a spatula, leaving the sponge showing through to achieve the 'naked' look.
To make the caramel topping, add the caramel sauce and gin to a bowl. Mix well with a spoon until you have a smooth sauce that is slightly runny. Using a piping bag or spoon, drizzle the caramel sauce around the edge of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Use the remaining caramel sauce to cover the top of the cake.
Decorate the cake with meringue kisses and gingerbread Christmas trees or gingerbread men. These can be shop bought - I won't tell if you don't!
This recipe can be made with Bonne Maman Salted Caramel or Hazelnut Praline Caramel.
This recipe has been developed by Liam Beauchamp, aka 'The Gin Baker', in association with The Craft Gin Club 'Ginned' Magazine.
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