My Mother-In-Law’s Madeira Cake, recipe by Nigella Lawson

“I don’t know if I ever ate Madeira cake as a child, but just the sight of this golden-yellow loaf with its long crack down the middle makes me feel satisfactorily nostalgic. This recipe, given to me by my mother-in-law Carrie, is the best of any version I’ve tried. It’s just one of those plain cakes you think you can’t see the point of, until you start slicing and eating it.” – from  Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.


240g softened unsalted butter
200g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon [How much juice does a lemon gives you? Mine came up to 40ml.]
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour
23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and lined


Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3.

[Method is straight-forward.]

Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each. Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally, the lemon juice.

[Batter is really thick, unbelievably thick – compared to any other cake I’ve made in the past. I start to question whether my lemon juice is enough…]

Sprinkle with caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.

Makes 8–10 slices.


The cake turned out exactly like the picture – a nice yellow colour with a crack down the middle. Unfortunately I don’t think it quite lived up to my expectations. Of course I’ve never had a Madeira cake before so not really sure what to expect. But from Nigella’s description it was a PLAIN cake (one which I do not see the point of making).

Also, the cake definitely tasted better the next day (and even better with some jam). Not a total loss 😉


Plus this is a really simple cake to make and quick too (if you don’t count the baking time). Definitely if you’re in the mood  for a simple home-made cake this would be it.

Future Attempt

I suspect the lack of flavor may be due to my small lemon that did not give me enough juice. So next time, (if there is a next time) I’m gonna get a really big lemon.

*after making the cake I came across a reference in Nigella’s How to Eat. Apparently 1 lemon is equivalent to 120ml of juice! (where does Nigella get hers???)  Hmmm…guess that explains the lack of flavour in my cake.

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