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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Dry Madiera cake

    Yesterday I made the recipe for the Madiera cake. I used your conversion chart for my measurements. I baked it for 1 hour as stated in the directions. THe cake turned out beautifully. The problem was that it was very dry. Please tell me what I may have done wrong. I have a newer oven so I don't think my temp. is off. i would like to make this again to take to a pitch in at work.

    From the nigella team:

    A Madiera cake will not be as moist and spongy as a more traditional sponge cake as the ratio of flour to fat and egg is higher than for something like a Victoria Sponge (which has equal weights of flour, butter and egg). It does however rise better than a spongier cake and slice better in its loaf form. It's plainness is its virtue. Don't waste the cake if you feel it is a bit dry - freeze the slices and use them in the base of a traditional trifle - the slightly dryer cake will be perfect for absorbing any alcohol and juices from fruit than you may like to use.

    If you are looking for a moister cake then you could make the Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake from Domestic Goddess (p13) which has a base similar to the madiera cake but is drenched with a lemon sugar syrup after baking to increase moisture and flavour. Lemon syrup cakes are usually very popular with crowds and would be ideal for your work event. There is also a loaf Seed-Cake in Kitchen (p296, omit the seeds if you want a really plain cake) which is moister than a madiera cake as the batter contains ground almonds (almond meal). However this cake does have a tendency to sink in the centre so the presentation may not be as impressive as the others.

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