Sunday, 26 February 2012

Random Recipes, the Oscars and Madeira Cake

Imagine, if you would, the disappointment I felt when I discovered that Madeira Cake isn't actually from Madeira*.

It would be on par with finding out that Nice biscuits aren't made in Nice and Whales aren't from Wales.

Putting aside my abject disappointment for one minute, this cake is made in honour of Dom from Belleau Kitchen's very first anniversary of his magnificant blogging challenge, Random Recipes. To celebrate Random Recipes being a whole year old, Dom has invited us to cast our mind (and our oven) back to the very first entry we made for the challenge and to choose a random recipe from that very same book. My very first entry involved vegetables in a cake (I've still not gotten over the shock) and pretending the cake was all part of the masterplan. It was none other than Nigella's Courgette Cake from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

The random recipe thumb generator did its stuff again and this time round I got to make Madeira Cake. Which, if you ask me, is the under-rated cake of the baking world. In the Great Cake Family, unlike its cousins, say the glamour-puss, glossy cupcake or the majestic, magnificent, five tier gateau, the Madeira Cake is a bit...dull. If it were an Oscar category (note appropriate, timely reference to Current Affairs), it would be contender for, say, Best Documentary Short, rather than Best Actor. 

Until you take a huge bite of the buttery, soft, crumbly cake. Lus-cccious

The original recipe can be found right here, on Nigella's website.  

I adapted mine somewhat, with different ingredient measurements for the circular cake tin I was using:

175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
125g plain flour, sifted
125g self raising flour, sifted
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, beaten gently

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a deep 18cm round cake tin
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until nicely fluffy and pale (this may take up to five minutes), and add in the lemon zest
3. Add the eggs, a little at the time and beat well
4. Fold in the flours and lemon juice
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

Baker's notes...
  • According to Nigella, a crack in the centre is a Good Thing
  • James Martin adds a little candied peel on top, which looks ever so pretty
  • If you haven't a lemon hanging around your kitchen, replace the lemon juice with 1tsp vanilla, and omit the zest
  • Madeira Cake has multiple uses, two of which are a Wedding Cake or Lamingtons. How do you eat yours?
  • Like a fine wine, or Oscar nominee Meryl Streep, this cake improves with time. It can be made up to a week in advance
  • What cake should win Best Film Cake?
* Perhaps Madeira Cake comes from Barnet or Slough or someplace


  1. its always a winner in my book but I do hope it wont make one of those dreary and tearful acceptance speeches!... thank you so much for taking part, it's lovely to have had you along for the ride xx

  2. I love madeira cake. I really love those very bland madeira type buns you get in bags in the supermarket in Spain! Not that yours looks bland I hasten to add!!

  3. Looks great, and I know it tastes good, becuase by complete coincidence I baked this last week too! Good recipe :-)

  4. I love Madeira cake, we have it, as intended, with. A glass of Madeira, perfect (NB other sweet wines would work with this gorgeous cake).

  5. Madeira cake never disappoints - it's a classic for a reason! Yours looks lovely

  6. Madeira come from Slough? That's a bit harsh, don't you think?! I never really 'got' madeira cake until I tasted the one my husband's great aunt makes - which is AMAZING. I think it would probably be overlooked at the Oscars every year, but then get a Lifetime Achievement award, or one of those memorial showreels so all the other cakes could stand up with fake tears in their eyes and clap while thinking "it should have been ME"!

  7. I love reading your recipe posts, they never fail to make me smile. Who knows where Madeira cake originated and to be honest, who cares when it tastes so good?! :-)

  8. I also made a Madeira cake quite recently for something and really enjoyed it. It's one of those cakes that stands the test of time but doesn't shout out loudly about it's merits! Lovely post :0

  9. I love Madeira cake - haven't made one for years. Ainsley H. used one cut up in a type of bread and butter pudding recently. Waste of a good Madeira imho!

  10. You're right - Madeira cake is not given the accolades it deserves and I'm feeling guilty about that right now. I want a slice now - nothing else will do. You were disappointed when you found Madeira cake wasn't from Madeira? Imagine how I felt a few years ago when I couldn't find a Bath bun in Bath.

  11. That is very disappointing, I had no idea it wasn't from Madeira either! I've never actually had madeira cake before as I just know it's something my dad enjoys...and his tastes are along the lines of fruit cake, mince pies and bread and butter pudding - none of which I like so I've always veered away from madeira cake too! but maybe I should give it a try since it certainly sounds good the way you have described it! I gave you an award on my blog too if you want to check it out :)

  12. I love a slice of Madeira cake with a cup of tea. I would love a slice of your cake right now :)


  13. I adore Madeira cake, I love that it is so simple yet tastes so good, and your version of it looks really delicious. I, too, have had my dreams dashed with the news that it doesn't come from Madeira.

  14. Your cake looks lovely and the post made me smile. Sometimes simple cakes really hit the spot!


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