I don’t know if I ever ate Madeira cake as a child, but just the sight of this golden-yellow loaf with its long crack down the middle makes me feel satisfactorily nostalgic. This recipe, given to me by my mother-in-law Carrie, is the best of any version I’ve tried. It’s just one of those plain cakes (no Madeira in the recipe!) you think you can’t see the point of. until you start slicing and eating it.
- 1 cup softened unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups self-rising cake flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 9x5-inch loaf pan, buttered and lined with parchment or wax paper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and ¾ cup sugar, and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each. Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the pan before turning out.
I love a good old-fashioned seed cake; if you do too, add a couple of teaspoons of caraway to this batter. For a lemon poppyseed cake, add the juice of another half lemon and a tablespoon or two of poppyseeds. And I once came across an expensive but tempting curiosity: tiny dried strawberries. I upped the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and folded in about a cup of the strawberries. It was a wholly successful experiment.
This recipe serves 10.