Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Madeira Cake Story Part 2

Any of my regular readers may remember that some time ago I set out on a baking journey to find my perfect chocolate chip cookie. While I have in no way forgotten that journey I seem to have started another and hence why I should be hailed as a genius because I have achieved time travel, being able to be on two jounies, in two places, at once. I would gladly share my science secrets with you because I know how important it is for us bakers to have more time to try out all our ideas but sadly I can't even share them with myself seeing as I have no idea how I have achieved it. But it's ok, flitting from one to the other idea is perfectly acceptable in baking. (Anyone else do this?) And so, at the moment, it's all about cake. This cake. Part two of the Madeira cake hunt and if you're wondering what on eart I'm gabbling on about you can read the first part of the story here.

When I was gathering all the bits and pieces together for this cake I pretty much said to the silicone bundt mould that I used "Now I don't like you and you don't like me but if we don't have a repeat of the cherry almond cake incident we'll get along much better". You see, while I'm testing out which recipe I favour for a Madeira cake, the version with ground almonds, or the one that is like a Victoria sponge but with extra flour, I want to use a slightly fancier than normal cake mould to make it more attractive. I said in the Madeira cake story part 1 that I disagree entirely that a Madeira cake is plain flavoured but I will admit that the appearance of a Madeira is unassuming. I've collected rather a lot of bakeware through my Baked and Delicious subscription so this is the perfect time to put some of it to use. The last time I used this particular piece it ripped the beautifully baked cake in half as I was trying to get it out so I ended up using the broken bits to make Almond Cake Pop Truffles. A success in the end but I wasn't going to let a bit of silicone rule me so this time I made sure it behaved.

Onto the cake. It was good. Really, really good. I put the lemon zest in this time, using a creamed Victoria sponge recipe and method with an extra 50g of flour. I wasn't sure whether it should have vanilla or almond extract in because I've seen recipes using both but seeing as I keep forgetting to buy almond I went with vanilla. The flavour was delicious with a moist, close crumb that is true of a Madeira but it wasn't dense or heavy. I had lots of fun with these pictures because after I'd dusted the cake with icing sugar and moved it I was left with a doughutesque outline, as if Homer Simpson had been passing and had found one of his favourite treats left unattended. Ahhh, small things.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed making (and eating) this cake, and would thoroughly recommend it to others, for me it still doesn't have that quintessential Madeira quality about it that I'm hunting for. I think I'm almost there though. The next thing I'm going to try is lemon zest in the ground almond version I made last week with almond extract thrown in for luck because I'm wondering if it's the combination on the taste buds of lemon and almond that screams Madeira. Once I get it just right I'm going to make a gluten free version too because my housemate Lauren really likes Madeira cake and I've been a bit mean to her lately with talking about and making these cakes she can't eat. So fingers crossed I crack the cake code soon. In the meantime...enjoy!

print recipe

Madeira Cake
A beautifully classic cake flavoured with lemon zest. Moist and rich without being dense or heavy.
  • 175g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Splash of milk
1. Grease and line an 8" round cake tin or if using a silicone mould, grease well with butter and dust well with flour. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan.2. Beat the butter until really creamy then add the sugar and cream until very light and fluffy, at least five mins. Beat in the lemon zest. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla, a little at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add a spoonful of the measured flour towards the end if you think the mixture is about to curdle.3. Sift and fold in the flour/baking powder in two batches. Fold in enough milk to achieve a soft dropping consistency (drops from a spoon with only a little jiggle of encouragement).4. Spoon into the tin, level the surface and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour (mine took 55 mins) until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Rotate the cake as necessary to get an even bake but don't move for the first 30 mins. When done, turn the oven off and leave in there until the hissing sound almost stops. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 mins then very carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.

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