Recipe: Madeira Cake with Lemon Whipped Cream.


Up until last week, I had no idea what a Madeira Cake even was. I was going through some old magazines, and happened to stumble across the recipe for it in an issue of Cake Craft and Decoration from February of 2012. If you are unfamiliar with this magazine, it’s based out of the UK, and as such the recipes are geared more towards someone doing their baking there. However, this recipe sounded pretty good, and after reading about what a Madeira Cake actually was (a dense sponge cake – close to a pound cake in consistency, usually eaten with tea or sometimes for breakfast), I decided this would be my next project. Truth be told, I think what really excited me was the fact that it called for caster sugar, and I had specifically purchased a bag when I was last in the UK just so I could experiment with it, and finally here was my big chance.

the travelling bag of sugar.

the travelling bag of sugar.

The recipe also called for either margarine or butter, stating that butter gives a better flavor but margarine gives more rise, so a combination of the two would be best.. Because I harbor a vehement hatred for margarine, I had none in the house. I did, however have shortening, so I decided I’d try a butter/shortening combo instead. The recipe also stated that the classic Madeira cake has two to three thin slices of citron peel on top. I really just didn’t want to decorate it that way, so I opted for sifted confectioners sugar.

sifted sugar coat.

sifted sugar coat.

Additionally, I whipped up a batch of lemon whipped cream, and served each slice with a generous dollop on top.

dessert is served.

breakfast dessert is served.

Keeping with the tradition, I just had a slice for breakfast, although I drink coffee, not tea. But either way, cake for breakfast is never a bad thing. Don’t knock it until you try it, my friends. ūüôā

Just one last quick note before I get into the recipe – this cake DOES NOT bake at 350. DON”T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. It bakes much lower, for much longer. Don’t rush it. It will be worth it, I promise. Good things are always worth the wait.

Madeira Cake (adopted from Cake Craft Magazine).

What you’ll need:

8 oz caster sugar

4 oz butter

4 oz shortening

4 eggs

12 oz flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, and shortening until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the dry ingredients, one third at a time. Do not over mix – once everything is combined, stop mixing, and pour the entire thing into a well-greased 8″ pan. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Once cooled, sift confectioners sugar on top. Serve as is, or with the topping of your choice -. lemon whipped cream works really well.


Symphony in Cinnamon Maple.

My friend’s birthday was the other day, and I wanted to make a cinnamon maple cake with maple buttercream, since he was a big fan of the last one I made. That one included banana and was in cupcake form, and this time I wanted to try it minus the banana, and as a small cake — 6″, to be exact. I also got to thinking that I really hadn’t done much in the realm of cake decorating over the past few months, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to bring something fancy to the table. I always wanted to try my hand at a rosette cake, so I went for it.

a white icing waltz.

a white icing waltz.

Not only did this cake wind up looking rather pretty, but it tasted pretty darn good, based on the feedback I received from those who dared to sample it, in all it’s rich, billowy, sweetness.

a maple concerto.

a maple concerto.

Something about this cake reminded me of music – classical music, to be exact. Possibly the way each rosette just flowed seamlessly into the next, like a melody or a symphony by Strauss. Maybe it was the way the cake and icing complimented each other so well, like an operatic soloist who sings with the music, yet creates a unique and beautiful melody in her/his own right. So yeah, this cake was kinda like that. ūüôā

We’ll always have Paris.

I am going to go back to Paris. My last visit was almost 10 years ago, and it was I believe for only about 4 days. It was a lovely time though, and I loved France as much as I always knew I would. This time, however, I’m not planning on going for a visit. I’m planning on going for more of an extended stay. Have I booked this trip yet? No. Have I planned out any of the hows, whens, whats or whys? Heck no. I have done no planning other than watch Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” and purchase a book I just happened to stumble across the next day called “Living Abroad in France,” which clearly was a sign from the universe so I had to buy it.

As you can see, this was a hasty decision. Although I may have made the decision to go in haste, I have not actually gone. I have no firm date for when this parisian relocation will take place. Nor have I figured out how long it would be for. 6 months? 1 year? As long as I shall live? I haven’t the faintest idea. The only thing I know for sure is that I will go; oh, yes, I will go.

we've all got dreams.


So that’s my plan: to wander around Paris, eating (and¬†making)¬†pastries, wearing a beret, looking at art, and experiencing life. (Ok, I admit it – it’s mostly for the pastries.) ūüėČ

"Paris-Brest" we made in pastry school. I've got a head start!

my fair ladyfingers.

So I have to say, I’m getting pretty good at making ladyfingers. Having never made them before this year, I really¬†never¬†gave them much of¬†second thought. In fact, all¬†I¬†knew of these¬†spongy finger-shaped biscuits was that my dad¬†really liked them. I remember them being around the house¬†growing up, because¬†they were one of the¬†few¬†dessert-type items my¬†sweet-toothless dad would¬†consume (see My Dad¬†Hates Cake).¬†It was only once I¬†started going to school that I learned how these¬†fingers o’ ladies were actually¬†made, and of their many uses in classical desserts.

this is not one of them.

So this week, in my class, we made mini desserts (Small Indulgences, people!), one of which was an individual sized tiramisu, complete with ladyfingers.

luck be a lady.

The other was made with a Joconde, which is an almond sponge cake baked in a thin sheet and cut to size, and filled with Bavarian Cream. The end result looked like this:

mango and bavarian cream, baby.

Now, of course I can only get better – that’s why I’m in school – but I have to say that these are in no uncertain terms the best dessert “plates” I’ve done thus far¬†in my baking life. Like Eliza Doolittle, I started off as a layman – a commoner with no plating skills. It was tough at first – I got frustrated decorating plate after plate, only to wipe them clean and start¬†anew time and time again.¬†I¬†too, set a few things on fire as Eliza did, during this tumultuous practice. I was about to throw in the towel on more than one occasion, assuming I’d never make a beautiful plate that looked good enough to eat.

Then one day, the rain in Spain fell mainly on the plain – or plate. Now, I’m not claiming to suddenly be a Picasso of dessert plating, I still have a long way to go. But I did it. I made restaurant caliber dessert art. Of course, I’m not out of the water yet. There is still much practice to be had before I can spend the day at the races without the fear of telling Dover to move his bloomin’ ass. But it will happen. You really can do anything you set your mind to, whether it’s becoming a high-class broad, or plating a high-class dessert.

wouldn't it be lovely?

tiramisu goes to the opera….cake.

My Classical Cakes class has come to a close, and I’m sad – this was my favorite class that I’ve taken. There’s a reason these cakes are classics. I’ve never tasted cakes so good in my life. This is what it’s all about people – these are the cakes that gave cake it’s good name to begin with. Not that dry, simple stuff we call cake today. This kind of cake couldn’t ever come out of a box. It takes time, attention, and some major organization. But the results are hella worth it.

Anyway, for our last cake of the class, we had to create our very own classical cake, using what we’ve learned. Well, my partner (who happens to be the best partner ever)¬†and I decided to do a chocolate coffee kahlua¬†cake with mascarpone¬†mousse. It was part tiramisu, part opera cake.



opera cake


tiramisu goes to the opera cake.


In case you’re interested in recreating our nouveau classical cake pictured above, it’s a layer of chocolate genoise¬†(soaked in kahlua¬†coffee syrup),¬†next¬†a layer of coffee buttercream,¬†followed by a thin layer of¬†chocolate ganache, next a layer of ladyfingers (soaked with kahlua¬†coffee syrup), a layer of mascarpone¬†mousse, another layer of chocolate ganache, another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and finally topped off¬†with another layer of mascaropone mousse.¬†The whole thing is then¬†coated with a chocolate glaze and garnished as desired (we used chocolate curls, modeling chocolate flowers, and fresh raspberries).

We got an A.