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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.

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.

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

Ingredients

Makes: 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-raising flour
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

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/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/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 I once came across an expensive but tempting curiosity: dried strawberries, tiny things harvested by that clever Terence Conran. I upped the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and folded in 100g of the strawberries. It was a wholly successful experiment.

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 I once came across an expensive but tempting curiosity: dried strawberries, tiny things harvested by that clever Terence Conran. I upped the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and folded in 100g of the strawberries. It was a wholly successful experiment.

Tell us what you think

What 20 Others have said

  • 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
  • I made this cake for a wedding cake I was doing & its fabulous!! doubled the recipe & it turned out to make just a tad over mixture for an 8" round tin. Rose beautifully & tastes amazing as I sampled the top that I trimmed off........I will always turn to Nigella for recipe's I don't have as they never fail me.

    Posted by clairebear13 on 10th September 2015
  • I made this for my grandfather's birthday and it was spot on. Its an easy recipe and really tasty. Everybody enjoyed this one a lot. Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by bakinglovesemma on 6th September 2015
  • A satisfying and beautifully simple cake. A slice with a cup of tea or coffee is delicious. With a glass of wine, even better.

    Posted by Haushislop on 25th August 2015
  • I love this cake and my friends and family always beg me to make it,I've always had to cook it about 25 minutes longer than a hour though

    Posted by Chelle bell on 7th August 2015
  • Just pulled it out of the oven. Its beautiful - if only I could make them all wait til it cools. Lovely.

    Posted by mspitstop on 9th March 2015
  • This cake I made for the very first time and it is absolutely delicious, even looks the same as picture. Thank you.

    Posted by Marrob on 18th January 2015
  • I'm English living in Uruguay. Don't like the cakes here so I make my own specially for a weekly scrabble group of Argentinian and Uruguayan ladies. They ADORE this cake (and your London Cheesecake too). I believe the name comes from it being eaten with Madeira wine.

    Posted by Libish on 21st October 2014
  • Worked a charm. I edited it slightly but I was short an egg, so I threw in a banana and a few dollops of creme fraiche. I couldn't help myself so threw in a couple cherries and reduced the sugar a small bit. *Note it did need to cook for another twenty minutes longer than suggested. . Everyone is loving it :)

    Posted by Crisundies on 25th January 2014
  • I made this cake last year for my brother's 30th birthday party as he is a fussy eater and Madeira cake is his favourite. It was the first time I had ever attempted making a Madeira cake and it was fantastic, so easy to make and everybody loved it! Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by Taz03 on 27th October 2013
  • I just made this cake and it was the best cake I have made. Thank you Nigella

    Posted by Shortty on 22nd September 2013
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