Madeira Cake – Nigella Domestic Goddess

Despite Madeira cake being the first recipe in Nigella’s Domestic Goddess book I’d never baked one. I think because I always associated it with the boring basic cake wrapped in cellophane that old people seem fond of. It really is a very easy cake to mix up and anything that just needs to be dolloped into a loaf tin is a good thing to make on a Saturday morning when I really ought to be doing something more useful.

I modified Nigella’s recipe to make it easier.. For a start she calls for 240g butter, butter comes in 250g packs! I’m really not going to waste time shaving off 10g. She also calls for a mix of plain and self raising flour. I can see why people use self raising flour in a recipe. If the mix of baking powder to plain flour in self raising flour is exactly what is needed for that recipe it saves a little effort. But if you need a mix of both why not use plain and baking powder ? I had to look up the ratio of baking powder to plain flour and went with 1/2 tsp baking powder to 100g plain. I also only used about half the quantity of sugar Nigella does for sprinkling on top before baking. The quantities below are what I used.


  • 250g butter
  • 200g caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • grated zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
  2. Cream butter and sugar and add lemon zest
  3. Add eggs one at a time with a little of the flour between each egg
  4. Then gently mix in rest of flour followed by lemon juice
  5. Dollop into a loaf tin and sprinkle with tbsp caster sugar
  6. Bake for 1hr to 1.25hrs (until a cake tester comes out clean)
Cake is melt in the mouth soft.
Nigella mentions a few possible variants, it would be very easy to come up with your own.

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