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