Madeira Cake


Madeira is a plain cake that was first baked in the eighteenth century, when it was served mid-morning with a glass of Madeira, a sweet fortified wine – hence the name. It is easy to make in a food processor and you could, if you so wish, drink a glass of Madeira while switching it on and off to get into the spirit of the thing.


  • 175 g/ 6 oz unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing
  • 175 g/ 6 oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 30 g/ 1 oz ground almonds
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 200 g/ 7 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cold milk


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Put the butter in the bowl of a processor with the caster sugar. Blitz to a cream, scraping down the sides. With the machine running, add 3 eggs one at a time through the feeder tube, again scraping down as needed. After the second egg, add the heaped tablespoon of plain flour which will prevent the mixture from splitting. Add the ground almonds and the grated lemon zest. Sift in the self-raising flour and milk, processing to a smooth, creamy batter. Butter a non-stick 20-cm / 8-inch loaf tin and pour and scrape the batter into it.

Bake towards the bottom of the oven for 70–75 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before running a palette knife round the cake and turning out on a rack.

When completely cool, wrap in foil or cling-film and put into a tin, steeling yourself not to eat any until the next day, when it will be better than if devoured immediately.