Old fashioned madeira cake recipe

You’ll often hear Mr Know-it-all walking passed the buffet table and chirp quickly to no one in particular “did you know this cake is named after the Portuguese Islands of Madeira?”. If you ever hear him give him a kick in the balls and tell him to shut up. Madeira cake is as old as old gets. One of the classic recipes I’m sure they taught young maidens to make back in England whilst their husbands went about hunting foxes and watching cricket smoking pipes.

Madeira cakes aren’t named after the Madeira islands but rather after the Portuguese wine that is made on the island. It is 100% English. Just like how Port is an English creation but was created in Portugal. The joys of British colonials making their homes wherever the king or queen at the time told them to.


It was my dad’s birthday 2 weeks ago. I wasn’t home and so didn’t bake him a cake. I came home to find a Black Forest cake in my fridge. Besides my lectures about never storing cakes in the fridge having fallen on deaf ears I couldn’t believe he had actually placed a crap cake in my refrigerator. I tried to be open minded about it and took a slice to taste. I’m not one to throw food away but I honestly couldn’t finish it. Why people torture themselves and buy cakes from retail stores makes me want to pull whatever little hair I have left on my head out. Madeira cake is another store staple, I’ve yet to taste a good tasting one from a store.

This recipe makes an awesome, moist Madeira. Please don’t overbake it. The trick to a moist cake is to take it out the oven a few minutes before it’s fully done and then let it rest in a cake tin for 5 minutes afterwards.

Cake flour 250g
Baking powder 2g
Unsalted butter 250g
Castor sugar 300g
Eggs 265g
Lemon zest 10g
Lemon juice 45ml
[Optional: Thin slices of candied orange for garnish]

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
2. Slowly add the beaten eggs to the mixture whilst still beating the mixture.
3. Add the lemon zest.
4. Sieve the flour and baking powder and add to the mixture.
5. Add the lemon juice.
6. Spoon the mixture into a well greassd loaf tin and bake at 165°C until golden brown. Test with a toothpick
7. Leave the cake in the cake tin for 5 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.
8. Garnish however you like. Traditionally it’s just icing sugar and candied orange slices.

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