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.


Random Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate Bread.

Last week, I made chocolate bread for the first time. It turned out terrible. I vowed to tweak the recipe and try again, until I got it right (see A Loathful Loaf). Well, it only took a second try – I could tell as the dough was mixing that this was going to be 1000 times better.

that’s a good lookin’ dough ball.

It looked better, smelled better, felt better, and most importantly tasted better. Mission accomplished – ladies and gentlemen, we have bread. Chocolate Bread.

thank you, bread!

Please note: as I mentioned in my previous post, the recipe I based this off of was from a UK website (you can see the original here), thus all the measurements are in grams and liters. Most baking scales default to grams anyway. Also, as you’ll see, it¬†calls for¬†caster¬†sugar. I actually purchased a small bag while still in the UK, because I’ve yet to find it in the states, but I’m sure it can be ordered online – or just give it a try with regular sugar – baking is all about experimenting! And finally, regarding the instant dry yeast – I used one 7g packet of Dr. Oetker’s¬†Yeast Levure. It’s sold in many higher-end American supermarkets in packs¬†of three.

Chocolate Bread.

What you’ll need:

500g all-purpose flour

10g salt

50g caster sugar

90g cocoa powder

1 packet (7g) instant dry yeast

50g butter (room temperature)

50g sweetened dark chocolate (melted)

100 ml half and half

200 ml water

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, caster sugar, cocoa powder and instant dry yeast. Add the butter, melted chocolate, half and half, and water. Mix for 2 minutes on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes Рthe dough should pull away from the sides and form a ball.  On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, and return to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough ferment for 1 hour.  Remove the dough from the bowl, knead for 2-3 minutes, reshape it into a ball, and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap, and let it proof for 1 hour. Preheat the over to 200 C (about 400 F). Uncover the dough, slice a cross in the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy! (And make sure to try it with some peanut butter).

A Loathful Loaf.

So last week while I was in England visiting my brother, we had this discussion in the middle of the night about chocolate bread and how we want to make and eat it. So I did a google search, and because we were in the UK, the first few results were UK recipes. This tickled my baking fancy, so I saved one of the recipes, and decided to try my hand at it when I got home. And yesterday, that’s exactly what I did.

I did not succeed. It looked decent – and the dough tasted pretty good (I always taste my dough, just to be safe). But the finished product just did not pass muster.

looks can be deceiving.

Now, I don’t think it was entirely the recipe’s fault. I believe there were three factors at play here, leading up to the perfect storm of bread failure:

1. The recipe did not clearly specify the type of chocolate. I used unsweetened dark baking chocolate. Bad choice. It overpowered the entire loaf and gave it a distinctly bitter taste.

2. I used dry yeast instead of fresh yeast. Now, in itself, this is fine, however, I definitely used too much – you could actually taste the yeast (once you got past the bitter chocolate).

3. British food is different from American food. Not bad different РI thoroughly enjoyed all the meals I had in the UK, and I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed the bread as well, different as it were, had it not been for the first two factors.

Because I just could not believe that this loaf was as bad as it seemed, I lugged it in to work and forced my friend to sample it. First, as is. Then heated up. Then with butter. Then I tried to make random folks nearby eat it. But alas, it could not be saved. This bread was toast.

The good  news is, like I mentioned, I know what the issues are, and I fully intend to jump back into the kitchen, make some recipe modifications, and try, try again. There will be chocolate bread, I decree, and it will be fantastic.