Madeira Cake

British Madeira Cake Recipe

Despite its name, Madeira Cake is a traditional British sponge cake. It has no connection with Portugal, except in name. In fact, it’s only gently flavoured with citrus – usually lemon – making it one of the simplest pound cakes in the repertoire.

The reason I’m finally getting round to a recipe for Madeira cake? The Great British Bake Off. For those of you not in the UK, this is a baking competition held in a tent in the middle of an undisclosed British field. The cake this week? You guessed it. Madeira cake. If you’ve ever made a sponge cake, learning how to make Madeira cake couldn’t be easier. The only real difference is the addition of lemon zest, a slightly higher proportion of flour and a longer cooking time.

How To Make Madeira Cake

These differences, however small, give rise to a closer texture and the cake’s signature crack along the top. Without a crack, it’s not a Madeira cake. But follow the recipe and the crack will come.

Personally, I wouldn’t try and do anything fancy with a Madeira cake. It’s simplicity is what makes it great. Having said that, feel free to flavour it with whatever citrus fruit takes your fancy. The addition of ground almonds also works well, yielding a more complex flavour and lighter texture.

For more easy cake ideas, see my recipes for Honey Cake, Caraway Seed Cake and Blackcurrant and Mascarpone Victoria Sponge.

Madeira Cake

Makes a 2lb loaf cake


  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • extra lemon rind for decoration


  1. Preheat your oven 170C/150C(fan). Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one by one, until you have a uniform batter.
  3. Gently fold through the lemon zest and flour. Once everything has just about come together, pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  4. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before turning out.
  5. Set aside to cool completely before decorating and serving.

Traditional Madeira Cake Recipe Recipe for Madeira Cake

Cost: As a simple sponge cake, Madeira cake is one of the most frugal bakes. It’s delicious, without requiring anything fancy. No icing. Nothing. Consequently, you can easily bake this traditional British cake yourself for a mere £2.

11 comments on “Madeira Cake

  1. Jennie
    August 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I simply love it!

  2. cateinthekitchen
    August 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Looks lovely! I have big plate envy right now, both the plate itself and the slice of cake on it..

    • frugalfeeding
      September 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      I don’t have much crockery, but I do have good taste 😉

  3. Karista
    August 16, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    This looks so delish! The cake texture looks absolutely perfect.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you, Karista – it was really enjoyable 🙂

  4. Cathy
    August 18, 2015 at 2:37 am

    This sound yummy! I am going to make it this week for company. Thank you Nick!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      I hope you tried the cake – did everyone enjoy?

  5. Kirsten
    August 19, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Madeira Cake was my Grandpa’s favourite, so it has a special place in my heart.

  6. Jean |
    November 12, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Nick, I always thought a Madeira cake had Madeira in it. Then I learned that the name came not from what’s in it but from what is served with it. It’s a slice of cake to be eaten with a glass of Madeira. But I prefer to have it with a nice strong cup of tea. Yours looks like one even Mary Berry would appreciate!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 15, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Exactly – though there are cakes that use madeira. Glad you like the cake 🙂

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