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My Mother-In-Law's Madeira Cake

by . Featured in HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS
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Introduction

I don't know if I ever ate Madeira cake as a child, but just the sight of this golden-yellow loaf with its long crack down the middle makes me feel satisfactorily nostalgic. This recipe, given to me by my mother-in-law Carrie, is the best of any version I've tried. It's just one of those plain cakes you think you can't see the point of, until you start slicing and eating it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I don't know if I ever ate Madeira cake as a child, but just the sight of this golden-yellow loaf with its long crack down the middle makes me feel satisfactorily nostalgic. This recipe, given to me by my mother-in-law Carrie, is the best of any version I've tried. It's just one of those plain cakes you think you can't see the point of, until you start slicing and eating it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

My Mother-In-Law's Madeira Cake
Photo by Petrina Tinslay
Ocado

(UK only)

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Ingredients

Yields: 8-10 slices

Metric Cups
  • 240 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  • 200 grams caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 210 grams self-raising flour
  • 90 grams plain flour
  • 17 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1⅓ cups self-rising flour
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

Please note that nigella.com is not able to accept responsibility for any substitutions that Ocado may need to make as a result of stock availability or otherwise. For any queries, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Feel free to use the “swap” feature and adjust brands and quantities as needed.

Method

You will need a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm / 9 x 5 x 3 inches), buttered and lined.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/150ºC Fan/gas mark 3/325ºF.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each.
  4. Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice.
  5. Sprinkle with caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  6. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.

You will need a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm / 9 x 5 x 3 inches), buttered and lined.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/150ºC Fan/gas mark 3/325ºF.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each.
  4. Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice.
  5. Sprinkle with superfine sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  6. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.

Additional Information

I love a good old-fashioned seed cake; if you do too, add a couple of teaspoons of caraway to this mixture. For a lemon poppyseed cake, add the juice of another half lemon and a tablespoon or two of poppyseeds. And if you come by any dried strawberries, you can up the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and fold in 100g of dried strawberries.

I love a good old-fashioned seed cake; if you do too, add a couple of teaspoons of caraway to this mixture. For a lemon poppyseed cake, add the juice of another half lemon and a tablespoon or two of poppyseeds. And if you come by any dried strawberries, you can up the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and fold in 100g of dried strawberries.

Tell us what you think

What 30 Others have said

  • This is my favourite cake to make, I add less sugar, i put in 165g only because you are sprinkling sugar on the top before the oven, and i add 50g of Ground Almonds along with the rest of the ingredients and it makes a great textured cake. Before the sugar is sprinkled on the top i add 7 whole glacé cherries and arrange down the middle of the cake.

    Posted by Rawni on 9th October 2022
  • Swapped the lemon with orange and it was divine. Thank you Nigella for the recipe.

    Posted by MailaA on 15th June 2021
  • Hi, for the poster who said they doubled the recipe for an 8" cake tin. What baking time would then apply to that? Thanks!

    Posted by paumarks on 5th December 2020
  • Made this Madeira cake many times Nigella. Always comes out wonderful! Family love it. Freezes well too. Thank you.

    Posted by AdniL60 on 13th November 2020
  • Made it today, delicious!!! Nice and crumbly outside and soft but not soggy inside. Simple ingredients,easy to make. Next time I will add some dried cherries or cranberries .Thank you Nigella! Another great recipe.

    Posted by jalebailey on 10th August 2019
  • I brought this cake to work and all my co-workers gushed over how good it was. Cake turns out wonderfully crispy on the outside and the use of butter gives it a rich taste. Simple ingredients, superior taste.

    Posted by ursula.marie on 18th July 2019
  • Best cake ever. It is so wonderfully crumbly and delicious. My go-to dessert from now on. Thank you, Nigella!

    Posted by Didoung on 23rd June 2019
  • What a coincidence, I have this in the oven and thought I'd check my emails while it's baking and lo and behold there was this recipe! It's my favourite go to simple delicious cake. Everyone loves it. I've been making since Domestic Goddess appeared.

    Posted by Paula Dunne on 10th April 2019
  • Oh, my. That was wonderful. I added just a spoon full of dried cherries/cranberries/raisins soaked in a tablespoon of port, but otherwise just followed the recipe. SO good.

    Posted by Meann on 15th October 2018
  • Thank you for the recipe. It was one of my Mother's staple cake recipes along with Tea Brac.

    Posted by Green8gage on 10th December 2016
  • I hadn't heard of Madeira cake until I saw The Lady in the Van. I searched for it online and found this recipe. Just made it and it's wonderful.

    Posted by ritaink on 20th March 2016
  • Made this cake three times and it is now a firm favourite. Very easy to make , very tasty and very popular!

    Posted by francesedith on 19th January 2016
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