Recipe: Madeira Cake

Food & Beverage

In the Kitchen

By Andrew Lewis
Whenever I think of the word ‘cake’ the first image in my mind is a Madiera cake. It’s my birthday cake of choice. It has a wonderful texture, and a rich flavor that is hard to beat. In short, I love Madiera cake. It’s easy to make, keeps well, and the recipe is simple enough that I don’t have to look it up before I start making it. It’s a light cake that you can make well in advance of a picnic or tea party, and it always seems to turn out well.

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Madeiracake Ingredients


9oz of Self raising flour
6oz of soft butter or margarine
6oz of sugar
3 eggs


Madeiracake Step1
Step 1: Mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl with an electric beater. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to use caster sugar, ordinary sugar will work perfectly.
Step 2: Continue beating the mixture and add 2tbsp of flour. Adding a small amount of flour now
will help stop the mixture from separating when you add the eggs.
Step 3: Beat the eggs into the mixture. Only add one egg at a time, and keep an eye on the mixture to make sure it isn’t separating. Add a little more of the flour to the mixture if necessary.
Step 4: Continue beating the mixture while you gradually add the flour. There is no need to sieve the flour, just remember not to add it too quickly. You can fold in any extra flavorings at this point. Vanilla or lemon zest are quite traditional additions, but you could also add coffee essence, chopped dates, walnuts, or even a splash of something alcoholic to the mixture. Madiera cake has a reputation for being difficult to get wrong, so culinary experiments are less likely to result in total failure.
Madeiracake Step5
Step 5: You can’t guarantee the size of eggs, so take a look at your cake batter and decide if you need to add milk. Ideally, the mixture should be able to hold on the beater without falling off, but not be so stiff that it sticks to the beater when you wipe it.
Step 6: Pour the mixture into a greased and lined cake pan, and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown. A good way to test whether a cake is cooked properly is to insert a metal skewer into the top. If the skewer comes out clean, then the cake is probably cooked.
Madeiracake Step7
Step 7: Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the tin. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
Madeiracake Final
If the top of your cake cracks open while cooking, it is usually a sign that you have added too much moisture to the mixture. This would be considered a failure by baking traditionalists, but I think that a home baked cake looks more appealing this way.
Maderiacake Final2
Decorate the cake to suit your tastes, or leave it plain if you prefer. Serve a generous slice to your guests with hot tea or coffee. A Madiera cake will keep for several days without losing it’s flavor, which makes it ideal for birthdays and picnics. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, split the cake in half and add a whipped cream and jam filling.
About the Author:
Andrew Lewis is a journalist, a maker, victophile, and founder of the blog.

20 thoughts on “Recipe: Madeira Cake

  1. Adrienne says:

    Is is a special pan? Can it be square? Is it something I ought to know?

  2. Andrew Lewis says:

    I use whatever comes to hand first, which is usually a 7″ round cake pan.
    You can use a square pan if you prefer. I find that the square pan is better for picnics and events with a larger number of people, because you can cut the cake into a nice grid and everyone will get a sensibly shaped piece.

  3. Mike says:

    For the benefit of us older folks who don’t use a kitchen scale or self-rising flour (no electric mixer here, either!):
    2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1 Tbs baking powder
    1/8 tsp salt
    1-1/2 stick butter, softened
    3/4 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    I creamed the butter and sugar together with a potato masher, the switched to a whisk for the rest of the process. I’m not sure what sort of separation you were anticipating, but I saw nothing amiss in the mixing process.
    The batter ended up a bit stiff, but adding a teaspoon of vanilla seemed to work well to make it as described.
    When you say, “greased and lined” what exactly do you mean? What are you greasing and lining the pan with?
    I’m looking forward to this coming our of the oven in another twenty minutes or so; the batter tasted wonderful, and it smells great baking!

  4. Andrew Lewis says:

    Thanks for the modified recipe, it’s good to know that there are other people out there who don’t always rely a scale when baking!
    I tend to keep with lb/oz as a measurement in recipes because US and UK cup sizes are different, and a ‘stick’ of butter isn’t a common measurement outside America. It’s great that you did the conversion for me :)
    I grease the pan with butter, and line it with a baking sheet to make sure it doesn’t stick. You can get away with out using the baking sheet, but using both means that the cake absolutely will not stick to the pan.
    I agree with you about the cake batter, it’s the chef’s duty to taste the mixture several times to make sure that it’s mixed right ;)
    I’ve had the mixture curdle a couple of times before now, but whisking in some flour at the start makes sure it doesn’t happen.
    Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  5. Mike says:

    It tasted great, if a bit dry; buttered and warmed it would be incredible with breakfast.
    “1-1/2 sticks” of butter equals “12 Tbs”
    A “baking sheet” to me is a metal cookie sheet; I’m assuming you mean something else there. I used parchment paper to line a ceramic dish I normally use for quiche (it was the right volume for the cake batter).

  6. Andrea C says:

    I did it and turn out really good. Finally I find the perfect recipe for a cake. Thank you.
    One question, It´s possible to do this cake with very thin integral (weath) flour?

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