How to get great results with this Madeira cake recipe

When I was one years old, my mum made her first shaped birthday cake. It was a number one! I wish I had a photo of it to share with you. It started a long family tradition in shaped birthday cakes for many (let’s just say well over 30) years. She always made the cakes from her Madeira cake recipe then shaped them, covered the top with jam and covered the cake in marzipan and then with regular icing . To this day I still think this is the best taste combination -cake wise, it’s just a bit difficult novelty shaping wise.

The only Madeira cake recipe you’ll ever need.

This recipe will make a 8 inch round cake. Heat the oven to Gas mark 4 / 350.F/ 180.C

For a list of other size cake tins ingredients see this post here

You can bake one cake and cut it in half to fill the centre with buttercream and jam or you can split the ingredients between two separate tins.


6oz/ 150g butter
7oz / 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs
8oz /225 g plain flour
1 1/2 teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp hot water

The method to the cake madness!

1. Line and grease a 8 inch tin and set aside. Allow the oven to heat up to the correct temperature – Gas mark 4 / 350.F / 180.C. I measure out all the ingredients before I start as it saves time and I can concentrate on blending and not measurements. (Also a good idea if the kids want to distract… I mean help you!)Start by blending the butter and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can make this cake by mixing by hand but it will feel like you are running a marathon with all the physical exertion needed

2.Add the vanilla essence.

Mix it all up.
3. Add the eggs one at a time. To stop the mixture from curdling add a spoon of the flour as you add each egg.


4. Once all the eggs have been combined, add the rest of the flour with the baking powder and continue to mix.Ensure all the ingredients have been mixed to a smooth consistency then add the hot water-slowly- till it is completely blended.

What a nice smooth consistency!


5.Pour the cake mix to the tin and pop it in the oven for 55 minutes.

Fill those tins

6.Once you have removed the cake from the oven leave it to cool for 10-20 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Never leave the cake in the tin to cool completely as it will ‘sweat’ and go soggy rather than stay moist.

7. To test if the cake is ready lightly press the top of the cake. If the surface springs back straight away it’s ready. If it slowly comes back it needs more time. Another way to test if a deep cake is cooked right through is to put a knife or skewer into the centre of the cake then pull it out. If it comes out clean then the cake is ready. If the knife is gloopy it probably needs another 5-10 minutes or so. If it’s only a little ‘wet’ give it another 2-3 minutes baking.


Remember that if you increase the size of the cake tin and ingredients then you need to increase the baking time. When I make a large 12 inch cake (round or square) I triple the ingredients and the cake always takes over 1 hour 45 minutes to be baked to perfection
I have tried a number of other Madeira cake recipes but they never taste as good as my mum’s and are usually really heavy. She always bakes three times the amount and bakes it in a large rectangular tin then cuts out the shapes.

I use the same recipe but I split the mixture up into 2 or 3 tins. The cake comes out really light and cooks thoroughly – right through to the centre. If you are going to make it in one tin I suggest you do it the scoop and bake method.


Scoop and bake

I read about this technique on a blog ages ago and was a bit dubious about it working – but it really does work! Ensure that the oven is at the right temperature before you start. Line the baking tin as usual and pour the Madeira mixture into the tin. Scoop the centre of the cake mix up to the sides so that you can see the bottom of the tin and then pop it in the oven. Avoid opening the door to peek! Don’t worry the cake will fill the hole, bake perfectly and be nice and flat. Don’t ask me how!

..Burnt on the outside, not cooked on the inside?

Another tip I picked up from a blog is that if your cakes bake too fast on the outside and not in the centre you can wrap the outside of the tin with folded newspaper. There should be about 4-5 layers of newspaper. It should sit just below the top of the tin and you can hold it in place with plain string. Make sure the string is plain/ natural as any plastic coating will melt and ruin – not to mention probably poison, your cake.


I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I have. Let me know what your favourite combinations for Madeira cake recipe are. I always use raspberry jam but have recently used black cherry which is good too. My mum uses apricot. The choices are just endless.



A little note about other size cake tins 

Since writing this post I have been asked loads of times for different ingredient quantities for different sized cake tins for this Madeira cake recipe. I finally did a post with an easy to follow chart which you can see here. I hope that helps all you keen bakers out there. EmmaMT (15th September 2013)

Another note….

I have had so many comments on this post I thought I would just take a second to explain that I wrote this post in May 2011 and have had so much more experience and success with another version of this cake since then. If you have read through all the comments you may end up a bit confused! My advice would be to go to my other Madeira cake recipe post here where you will have a ton of success! I hope that clears things up a bit. EmmaMT ( 25th April 2014)

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