This is my Mam’s favourite cake, by a long shot. It reminds her of her childhood in the early 1950s when she used to travel to France to visit her sister who had taken religious vows there (Irish Catholic, go figure). The French nuns used to keep bringing out Madeira Cake and my Mam kept eating it. It is rather surprising that she still enjoys it actually! I’ve seen this recipe without almond – people, this is heresy, it is not Madeira without almond.
- 170g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- grated zest 1 lemon
- lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
- tsp vanilla extract
- 200g self-raising flour
- 50g ground almonds
- Bit of icing sugar for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180°C, around 160°C if fan assisted. Butter the sides and base of a loaf tin. Most recipes will tell you to line it with greaseproof paper, I have never found it necessary. Beat together the butter and sugar until and creamy, then add the eggs, vanilla extract and lemon beating all the while keep beating in between. And then beat a little bit more, make sure it’s really well combined and fluffy and lovely. Then fold in the flour and give it another quick beat for good luck. The batter should slowly slip off the spoon, if it doesn’t, add a bit of milk or water…a tiny bit at a time because remember you can always add but never take away in baking! A good tip is to place some water in an oven proof dish to put into the oven with the loaf, this will ensure that it is lovely and moist.
Once the batter is to your satisfaction tip the batter into the tin and smooth over the top. Bake for around 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once you remove it from the oven leave to rest in the tin for around 10 – 15 minutes before tipping it out onto a wire rack.
Eat all of it immediately. On your own. With coffee.