Madeira cake is a traditional English sponge cake made by creaming or beating fat and sugar to a mousse-like consistency, and thereby incorporating air. The fat should never be allowed melt – if it did the air beaten into the batter would escape.
It does not come from Madeira but gets its name from Madeira wine, which it was traditionally served with at one time.
Read our guide to Madeira wine
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas mark 3.
Grease and line a deep 18cm/7in cake tin or 2lb loaf tin.
Cream the butter and when soft add the sugar and lemon zest. Beat until pale and fluffy. Add the cinnamon.
Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl then beat gradually into the butter mixture, adding a little flour to prevent curdling if necessary. Add the lemon juice.
Fold in the flour and the ground almonds.
Add enough milk to bring the mixture to a dropping consistency.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a palette knife or spatula.
Bake for 45 minutes. Place the citrus peel on top of the cake, then bake for a further 30 minutes. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the tin before gently easing out on to a wire rack.
Possible reasons for failure…
Cake too dense – wrong flour or no raising agent added.
Close texture – eggs added too quickly, making the mixture curdle.
Flat cake with large bubbles on surface – oven temperature too low or long delay before cake went into the oven.
Soggy bottom and sides – cake not cooled on a wire rack.
From Leiths Cookery Bible by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave (Bloomsbury), RRP £35.00
For our great interview with Prue Leith, see the May issue of Saga Magazine.
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