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.
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.