Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Dear all,

last week I went to my local shop to buy a few things. I am not sure what I was thinking (or where my head was exactly) but all of a sudden I thought I needed eggs. Loads of them. 15 minutes and 12 large eggs later I was home to find out that I already had 5 eggs in my egg basket. Sigh.

In search of a good way to use them up I decided to bake a cake as an afternoon treat for my kids. Somewhere in my mind was the notion that Madeira cake uses loads of eggs
so after some online research I found out that a) most Madeira cake recipes are with 3 eggs (so not that many!), b) all recipes I found were for a 7'' tin and mine is 8'' and c) Madeira cake looked a bit tricky to make. Apparently it can easily curdle and it may not even crack on the top. (I remembered reading somewhere that a Madeira cake is good only if it has a crack on the top. It makes sense if you think about it - it is one of these cakes which is never sold with an icing on the top (or at least I have never seen it iced!)) Another sigh. However, I decided to have a go at it anyway - after all I had my brand new mixer to help too!

I opted for James Martin's recipe from BBC Food recipes website, you can read it here. I have tried a few of his recipes in the past years and they have always been a hit with my husband and my in-laws.

Madeira cake is a cake that requires minimal ingredients and as such it should have been on my radar for quite some time now. For the last few months I have been trying to bake with ingredients I always have in my kitchen - in this case: eggs, butter, sugar and flour.
To fill my 8'' tin I used 4 eggs and increased all ingredients accordingly. I swapped the lemon zest for orange zest (I had no lemons in my house that day and could not be bothered to go to the shop again. Besides I was worried I may come home with even more things I didn't urgently need).

The recipe calls for one spoonful of flour with the last egg but I found that adding about half a spoonful of flour with every egg helped with preventing the mixture from curdling. The batter was lush - it was so pale and looked really fluffy and soft. It pretty much filled my tin to the top - I was really worried it would spill everywhere in the oven. It did not. It rose perfectly and got a crack on it too!

 Although very simple, this cake tastes delicious. It is the new favourite in our household with both kids asking 'When will you make it again mummy?' before even finishing their slices.
It baked evenly although it took almost an hour in the oven. (But this may be due to the fact I upped all ingredients by a quarter).

Here is my recipe:

215gr butter, soft
215gr caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs
310gr self-raising flour
3-4 tbsp milk
1 orange, zest only, finely cut

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an 8'' tin with baking parchment. Butter the sides of the tin well.
Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy, probably about 3-4 minutes in a free standing mixer. Beat in one egg followed by half a spoon of the flour. Mix until well incorporated. Continue until all eggs have been used. Soft the flour very gently ( I used the folding function on my mixer) adding a little milk at a time. You want the batter to fall slowly when lifted in the air. Add the orange zest.
Pour the mix into your prepared tin, level with the spatula and put in the oven. Bake for about 45-55 minutes. It should be golden-brown on top, beautifully risen cake with a crack in the middle - yes, you want the crack! As far as I know this is a sign of a good Madeira cake. A skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Leave it to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and letting it finish cooling on a rack.

There is no need for decorations - you will want to dig in straight away. My house was filled with such a rich aroma from this cake, totally amazing. It is perfect with a cup of tea/coffee or in my kids' case - on its own. If you are after a nice, filling piece of cake to go with your afternoon tea then this is definitely the cake for you.

Let me know how your Madeira cake turns out!
Desi in the Kitchen

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