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Origin Of Madeira Cake

Asked by patter10. Answered on 5th May 2019

Full question

Why is Nigella's recipe called My Mother In Law's Madeira Cake if madeira wine is not an ingredient? I love Madeira!

My Mother-In-Law's Madeira Cake
Photo by Petrina Tinslay
My Mother-In-Law's Madeira Cake
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's My Mother In Law's Madeira Cake (from HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS) is a plain loaf sponge cake. The weight of the butter, sugar, eggs and flour are all almost equal but the cake has less leavening in it than a Victoria sponge cake, which gives it a slightly firmer texture. It does not contain any Madeira wine and neither does the cake originate from the island of Madeira, which has its own, different, cake called Bolo de Mel.

This type of cake has other names in other countries, such as pound cake in the US and quatre-quarts in France. The name "Madeira cake" was adopted in the UK in the early 1800's - it was fashionable amongst the upper classes to serve a slice of this type of cake with a glass of Madeira wine. Recipes for the cake started to be recorded around 1840 and a version was published in 1845 in Eliza Acton's book "Modern Cookery For Private families".

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