Traditional Madeira Cake Recipe

Madeira cake is a type of sponge cake with a great texture and taste, easily making it one of the most underrated desserts of all time. According to Delighted Cooking, this sweet treat came to be in the 1800s in England. What makes the cake unique is the fact that it isn't prepared with shortening. Madeira is fun to say, and it seems like an excellent name for an after-dinner treat, but believe-it-or-not, it actually gets its name from the wine that it pairs well with. Who knew? If you've never tried Madeira cake, now's your time to flex your baking skills and whip up this sweet treat in your own kitchen. If you have been lucky enough to taste the yummy dessert, then you already know what we're talking about.

Recipe developer Ting Dalton of Cook Simply created this recipe, and for that, we can thank her. She shares that her favorite part of Madeira cake is the simplicity. "It's such a simple cake recipe that everyone should try it," she says. "With only a few ingredients you can bake a really delicious, light cake that slices well and will taste even better the next few days."

This is a great cake to make when planning a special dinner at home. The presentation is lovely on a nice platter with fruit and powdered sugar. Keep scrolling for details on how to prepare this cake in 15 minutes with an additional 45 minutes of baking time. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Gather the ingredients to prepare traditional Madeira cake

If you're already a skilled baker, you may have nearly all of the ingredients needed to prepare this delicious cake recipe. If not, grab a pen and paper to make a grocery list, but it won't be very long. You will need unsalted butter, caster sugar, self-rising flour, and eggs. In addition, grab ground almonds, grated orange zest, orange juice, grated lemon zest, salt, and vanilla extract. Once you have rounded up all of the ingredients together, you can get the baking party started. Expect it to just take about 15 minutes to throw this tasty cake together, and it will be ready to bake. The end result will be a new family favorite you'll be sure to make over and over again.

Preheat the oven, and cream the butter and sugar

For starters, turn the dial on your oven up to 350 F to preheat. After that, take out an 8x4x3-inch loaf tin. Next, you are going to thoroughly line your pan with parchment paper and grease it to ensure that nothing will stick when your cake starts to bake.

In the meantime, put your grease pan aside, and get out a mixing bowl along with your stand mixer. Alternatively, you can use a regular bowl with electric beaters, if that's your preference. Add in the butter and sugar, and cream the two ingredients together until your batter turns light and fluffy like a cloud. 

Continue adding the ingredients

Once the butter and sugar are well-mixed together, it's time to whisk in the eggs one at a time. If you add all of the eggs together, they may curdle, and you don't want that to happen. Next, you're going to add the lemon and the orange zest to the mix, followed by the vanilla extract. Continue to mix so everything combines well together. Last but not least, beat in the almonds and flour. Continue to mix everything until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the cake mix into the loaf tin, and bake it

Once you finish mixing up all of the ingredients into a smooth batter, it's time to get it ready for the oven. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, and it's going to be time to pop it into your preheated oven. Set your timer for 45 to 50 minutes, or take the cake out when it's golden and springy. You can also check if it's baked by inserting a skewer or a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's ready. If it comes out with wet batter on it, the cake needs to cook a little bit longer — just don't overcook it!

Another baking tip? "If the top of your cake is browning too quickly and still needs to cook, cover the top of the cake with foil," Dalton shares.

Turn the cake over, and serve

Right about now, your house is going to smell pretty spectacular. When the Madeira cake is done baking, pull it out of the oven, and turn it onto a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool before adding extra sugar on top, which should be at least 15 minutes. This step is entirely optional, though. Alternatively, Dalton says you can make an icing, if that's your preference. "If you wanted to make an icing sugar glaze, you could mix confectioner's sugar with some orange juice and spread across the top of the cake," she says.

When it's time to serve your cake, you can display it on a platter, and be as creative as you'd like. Add a dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle some confectionary sugar on the platter, or add some fresh fruit for a pop of color. You can even choose to serve it with vanilla ice cream! The possibilities are endless, and any guests who are lucky enough to try it are going to be very pleased. 

"This cake will still be delicious a few days later if there is any left. You can wrap it and store it in a container for up to two days," Dalton shares. She also recommends pairing it with a "good cup of tea or a glass of Portuguese Madeira." 

Traditional Madeira Cake Recipe
5 from 43 ratings
Madeira cake is a type of sponge cake with a great texture and taste, easily making it one of the best desserts of all time.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Madeira cake sliced
Total time: 52 minutes
  • ¾ cup softened unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lemon grated zest
  • 1 orange grated zest
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup ground almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups of self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line and grease a 8x4x3-inch loaf tin.
  2. In a mixing bowl using electric beaters or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, as you don't want the eggs to curdle.
  4. Then, add the lemon and orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Beat in the ground almonds and flour until you have a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf tin, and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it's golden and springy. To check if it's fully baked, insert a skewer into the center, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  7. Turn out onto a wire rack, and leave to cool for 10 minutes before sprinkling with the extra sugar.
  8. Leave to cool completely before serving.
Calories per Serving 354
Total Fat 21.0 g
Saturated Fat 11.6 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 105.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 37.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Total Sugars 21.0 g
Sodium 171.4 mg
Protein 5.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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