This poor cake has been hanging around in my draft posts for a long time (apart from when I managed to delete it without realising and had a slight panic that I’d clicked ‘Publish’ rather than ‘Save’ but we’ll gloss over that).
I actually made it the weekend after we came back from Belgium in November and it’s taken until now for it to finally get its moment in the spotlight.
It’s a shame really because this is a super little cake and deserves far, far better.
I have acknowledged before that I’m not much of a breakfast person and the idea of a plate filled with bacon and eggs first thing in the morning turns my stomach. While everyone else in our hotel in Bruges was happy to tuck in, I sought out some slightly lighter fare and was happy to alight upon a Belgian approximation of a Madeira cake. As soon as we got home, I knew that I had to make it, or at least its English equivalent.
Despite the name, there is no Madeira (a fortified Portuguese wine) in this cake. Nor does it hail from the island of Madeira. No, it is an English cake through and through. In the 18th and 19th century, it was traditionally served at tea time alongside a glass of Madeira. Can you feel nostalgic for a time that you never even knew? Because I am definitely nostalgic for a time when it was acceptable to have a glass of wine and a slice of cake in the middle of the afternoon.
It also makes an ideal breakfast cake, preferably without the wine (although I should point out that I am someone who thinks any cake is an ideal breakfast cake). It’s not too sweet and has a slightly sturdier crumb than your typical sponge cake, making it an ideal vehicle for some fruit or yogurt or maybe a scant spoonful of lemon curd. There is a hint of vanilla and lemon in the cake but neither is overwhelming. Primarily, though this tastes like cake and I’d forgotten just how good it was.
Yield: 1lb loaf tin
85g (3/4 stick)unsalted butter, softened
85g (1/3 cup + 1/2 tablespoon)caster sugar
1/2lemon, finely grated zest
1/2 teaspoonvanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
85g (3/4 cup)all purpose/plain flour
1/2 teaspoonbaking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Caster/granulated suger for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Butter a small loaf tin or small round cake tin.
Beat together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and continue beating until combined.
Add the dry ingredients and fold together until just mixed.
Pour into your baking tin and bake for 45 mins until gold brown and springs back when you touch it.
Turn out onto a wire rack, sprinkle with caster sugar and allow to cool.