Thursday, July 22, 2010

Madeira Cake

It seems like I am on a baking spree this week, having baked for 4 days consecutively in a row. Since the mood of baking was present, I decided to make good use of it. From my tiny little library of aboout 30 bakebooks ( it is still growing), I lifted out this tiny handy booklet called Cakes and Slices and chose the Madeira cake.

When I first baked the Madeira cake, I thought it is just a lemon butter cake. After doing some reading, I found out that the Madeira cake is named after the Madeira wine.  The Madeira cake is a sponge cake commonly flavoured with lemon and is traditionally used in English cookery ( according to Wikipedia).

Based on my last experience, the cake turned out dry but has a nice buttery lemon flavour ( I forgot to man my oven and overbaked for 15 minutes, lol ). Hence, I tweaked the recipe a little and added 4 tablespoons of lemon juice instead. This resulted in a moist lemony cake with extra tang. The tang would linger in the mouth for a moment after the cake is swallowed. I was definitely too generous with the lemon juice.  

The cake did not brown nicely as compared to the previous. One reason could be the reduced amount of sugar and the shorter baking time. It was done in 45 minutes when the recipe stated one hour. My last cake was baked for 1 hr 10 minutes, hence the dry texture. 

One bite into a slice of the cake reveals a firm yet soft texture. However, the extra tang of the lemon juice has snatched the glamour from the butter. Next time I would reduce the amount of lemon juice to balance the butter lemon fragrance.

Madeira Cake ( recipe adapted from Cakes and Slices )
Serving size: 7 inch or 8 inch round cake, 10 -12 slices
Equipment and materials:
1) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater or wooden spoon
2) Measuring spoon set
3) Flexible spatula
4) Mixing bowl
5) Wire rack
6) 18cm or 20 cm round pan
7) Flour sieve
8) Parchment/baking paper
9) Brush for oiling pan
10) Food grater for zesting lemon
11) Weighing scale

180g butter, softened
175g castor sugar
3 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
185g self raising flour, sifted
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (grated over the sugar and rubbed with sugar using hands)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preparing the tin: Line the base of a 18cm or 20cm round pan with parchment/baking paper. Grease the tin with oil or butter.

Preparing the oven: Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Creaming the butter: In a mixing bowl, beat butter on low speed until it is creamy. Add sugar rubbed with zest into butter and beat until sugar is evenly distributed. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until butter mixture is pale and fluffy. Refer to How to Cream Butter for detailed explanations.

Adding eggs and lemon juice to creamed butter: Add beaten eggs to butter in 3 portions. Beat each portion until incorporated before adding the next portion. The butter and egg mixture should be well combined. Next, add lemon juice and mix well.

Adding flour to egg-butter-lemon juice mixture: Add sifted self raising flour in 2 additions, beating the first addition until absorbed before adding the second. After the second addition of flour is absorbed, scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl with a flexible spatula. Beat for a further 30s  to obtain a smooth and well combined batter. Do not overbeat at this point in time after adding the flour or the cake will be tough.

Baking the cake: Pour batter into prepared cake tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.

Cooling and unmoulding cake: Run a spatula along the perimeter of cake to unmould cake. Cool cake upright on a wire rack.

1) Rubbing zest and sugar will release more lemon flavour into the sugar and cake.
2) The taste matures and is even better the following day.
3) To add moisture, the recipe can be tweaked by adding yoghurt, sour cream or milk.


  1. Nice texture. This cake is a very old- school type of cake. I ate this way back in 1950s. Yipes, I must be very old! :) Those days, heavy cakes were the rage - butter, pound, dundee, sugee ......

  2. Dude, you're really on a baking spree! I wish I bake as frequently as you do! The more I bake, the wider my waistline is gonna get! Haha!

    I know Madeira cake is English, but didn't know it was named after the wine. Dunno why leh, the name doesn't sound English to me; I thought it was Spanish! LOL! This post of yours has reminded me of my lemon polenta cake, which is still in the pile of backlogs too. LOL! Don't think you'd like that cake's texture though. It's the opposite of your cake.

    Anyway, Kasutera is Madeira cake's Japanese cousin. Have you tried making it? It's SUPER soft, like literally melts in your mouth! Of course, it depends on which recipe you use. Taiwanese ones are highly recommended. I haven't blogged about mine, too. LOL!

    Btw, cool new blog layout! Very bluish.

  3. the cake looks soft, must b yummy too!

  4. I've had a madeira cake recipe for a long long time too.

  5. Hi busygran,

    I didnt know this kind of cake was very old school. Usually only read about lemon butter cake but not Madeira cake. It is more often mentioned on english/ western bake books.

    Hi Pei-Lin,

    If you have the mood, just grab hold of it. Don't be bother about the waistline. I have never baked with polenta or handled it, so not too sure how it will turn out. My acceptance for butter cakes are pretty diverse. It can be stocky, dense(chocolate butter cakes) or soft and moist so long as the flavour is good and it is not as dry as the genoise cake (too dry for me, yucks!).

    I have never heard of Kasutera. The texture reminds me of lemon cream cheese cakes which is so light and moist. Looks like I must go read up on it.

    Regarding the layout, I liked green more actually. But green themes are unsuitable as a whole so far. So I thought I would stick to blue since it would represent my identity as a guy. I mean I cant possibly have a pinkish flowery kind of theme right? Its hard to imagine..

    Hi Jess,

    This cake is very sturdy and looks dense but it is soft actually. Anything lemony would be yummy to me =]

    Hi Wendy,

    Looks like the Madeira cake is really quite a basic cake and long standing cake. I am glad I came across it.

  6. I knew about this cake when I learned to make fondant cake. According to the instructor, this cake can be kept more than a week in only air-tight container, that's why this cake popular for decorating purposes. You can bake it in advance.

  7. Hi DG,

    I haven tried baking fondant cakes. Did'nt know that it is popular for decorating purposes. Thanks for sharing these valuable info. Next time I can use it for any fondant cakes I may be working on. I'll probably bake it 1 or 2 days in advance. Don feel safe that my cakes are lying around for too long and I dont have the habit of freezing my doughs and baked goods

  8. Never tried to make this cake before. Looks nice and yummy.

  9. I think in things like butter cake, sugar shouldn't be reduced too much, apart from giving it moisture, it brings out the butter flavour really well. Also try adding a pinch of salt, you'll be surprised at the buttery and lemony flavour and they just don't seem to overpower each other.

    Just my two cents, don't listen to me!!!!

  10. Hi Anncoo,

    Thanks! This cake is easy to make and lemon butter cakes can hardly go wrong.

    Hi Quinn,

    I always reduce the amount of sugar slightly in all my bakes. some of them really dun need that large amount of sugar actually.

    I find that salt works wonders in cookies. However, I cant really taste the difference in cakes, so I usually omit them. Will keep your advice in mind and not reduce sugar for basic butter cakes next time. Thanks =]

  11. Your cakes look good. When you mentioned wine, I thot there would be wine in the ingredient :)

  12. Hi mysimplefood,

    Thanks for dropping by and the kind words =] There is no wine in this cake but it used to be eaten with the Maderia wine, hence the name Madeira cake.

  13. Hey, tell you something ... I found something odd at work today. According to Oxford Dictionary, "Madeira cake" is the British term for what the Americans would call "pound cake!" Then, out of curiosity, I checked around to find that almost every source I'd come across says that it's a sponge. But then, I've always assumed pound cake is a type of REAL heavy butter cake. Now, this is really puzzling me ... Haha! Really weird ... It's Oxford Dictionary that says Madeira cake is pound cake. =_="""

  14. Hey Pei-Lin,

    hmm, some sources consider that genoise sponge and butter cakes are sponge cakes. To me, the real sponge cakes are made with separated eggs. There is some inconsistencies going around regarding the terminologies. To me, butter cakes are just yellow cakes and not sponge cakes.

    So far the sources I came across (blogs,books, wki) hints that the Madeira cake is a pound cake. I used have the thinking that pound cakes are supposed to be heavy. Apparently not all pound cakes are heavy actually.


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