Classic Madeira Cake – An old family recipe for a traditional British Madeira Cake, which is the perfect cake for afternoon tea, or when taken with a glass of Madeira. This was my Mum’s base cake recipe for most of her large cakes, such as orange cake, lemon cake, seed cake and birthday cakes for the family.
British Heritage Cake Recipe
This classic British cake’s name has always intrigued me, a cake made with Madeira, that seemed a little unusual and not what you would expect from a tea time recipe. When I was in my early twenties, I discovered that in actual fact its name has nothing to do with the cake having Madeira IN it, but it was so named because society ladies a century or so ago would enjoy a glass of Madeira WITH a slice of this cake. Today I am sharing my family recipe for Classic Madeira Cake, as made regularly by my mum and grandmother.
The cake was first listed as recipe in Eliza Acton’s cookbook, “Modern Cookery for Private Families” in 1845. In her book, Eliza says……
“A Good Madeira Cake: Whisk four fresh eggs until they are as light as possible, then, continuing still to whisk them, throw by slow degrees the following ingredients in the order in which they are written: six ounces of dry pounded and sifted sugar; six of flour, also dried and sifted; four ounces of butter just dissolved, but not heated; the rind of a fresh lemon; and the instant before the cake is moulded beat well in the third of a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda: bake an hour in a moderate oven”
A classic Madeira cake is a dense cake with a very rich flavour; this is due to the cake being made with 100% butter and a mixture of plain and self-raising flour. The modern day recipe from the turn of the 20th century, calls for the lemon to be omitted and three slivers of candied peel are baked into the cake on top. Some recipes also add ground almonds, but I prefer the classic combination of butter, flour, eggs, sugar and candied peel. This was my Mum’s base cake recipe for most of her large cakes, such as orange cake, lemon cake, seed cake, cherry cake and birthday cakes for the family.
Today’s recipe for Classic Maderia Cake is based on a recipe that my grandmother used to make from an old Be-Ro cookbook. I have increased the quantities to make a bigger cake that yields 12 slices, as this cake keeps very well and is an ideal cake to add to the school or office lunch box, as an occasional treat. It also freezes very well, and is the ideal foundation cake recipe for birthday cakes and other variations as I mentioned before, such as Queen cakes, seed cake, orange cake and cherry cake. By all means enjoy a slice of cake with an afternoon cuppa, or why not do as many a well-heeled Georgian lady did, and have a slice with a glass of Madeira! Karen
- 150g butter, softened
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 115g self-raising flour
- 115g plain flour
- A little milk to mix
- 3 thin slivers of whole candied peel
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and grease and line an 18cm (7”) round, loose bottomed cake tin with butter and baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together with the vanilla extract until light and fluffy, and then gradually add the eggs and a spoonful of flour, beating well between each addition.
3. Add the remaining flour and a little milk to make a soft dropping consistency.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 ¼ hours, placing the peel on top of the cake after the first ½ hour of baking.
5. Allow to cool on the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Serve in slices with a glass of Madeira.
Madeira cake makes a great foundation cake for other cake recipes such as seed cake, cherry cake, orange and lemon cake.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 50g
Amount Per Serving Calories 236Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 75mgSodium 223mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 1gSugar 13gProtein 4g
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