August 19, 2017

Why does Lindy use Madeira cakes?

We are often asked “Can you use a carrot cake/Victoria sponge etc?”

The simple answer is that Lindy prefers not to for two reasons.

  • Firstly a soft cake, such as a Victoria sponge will be tricky to carve and won’t hold its shape so well when iced. We have seen examples of ‘crumpled’ icing where the weight of the icing has caused the cake to literally squash down. This is especially important with the ball shaped cakes.

  • Secondly, a cake that is moist, such as a carrot cake or a fudge cake, will only stay fresh for a day or two.

So the Madeira and Chocolate Cake recipes that you see in Lindy’s books are those that she recommends to give a firm sponge perfect for carving and covering and also will last up to 2 weeks. These cakes will also freeze well (un-iced) for up to a month and will be fresh when defrosted.

We are not saying that these are the only recipes that will work, but they are the recipes that we trust to give great results. Perhaps you have some fab recipes that you are happy to share?



  1. Hi Davina,

    Should I have placed my cake on a piece of cake card, before placing it on the fondant covered board? – Yes
    Lindy uses a barrier between the round hard board and the cake such as wax paper.


  2. Hi Davina,
    We wouldn’t recommend taking icing sugar out of the recipe, as this is added to the egg whites to help stabilise them, so is completely separate from the beaten butter and caster sugar.

  3. Hi, I have been asked to do a wedding cake for my friend in early june and I am just deciding on what size tins to use as she is having a big wedding and wants a four tier cake! Would 8″,10″,12″ and 14″ (all round) be ok? Or are they too close in sizes?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  4. Hi Emma,
    You can replace some of the flour with cocoa powder but this tends not to give a rich chocolate taste more just a brown colour to your cake.
    You could use the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe for carving.…ge-cake-recipe/
    Good luck and have fun.

  5. i recently made an allinone sponge cake filled with jam and buttercream crumcoated in buttercream and covered in fondant i made the sponges on tuesday covered them in greaseproof paper and foil i filled and covered them on thursday delivered them saturday how long will they keep for after this please im panicking a bit as someone said the jam starts growing mould after 5 days thanks this site is really good for information by the way

  6. Hi Rosalyn,

    In the UK we usually have 2 inches (5cm) or 3 inches (7.5cm) between the cake sizes on a wedding cake, so the 8, 10, 12 and 14 inch tiers will work well, just fine
    Enjoy baking these cakes.


  7. Lydia Howell says:

    Hiya Lindy, Just wondered if you could help. After many attempts at making madeira cakes I have recently found it’s my old oven that’s the problem, but even when using a brand new oven it still does not rise enough to slice in half, it is still only 1 1/2 inches high. Is there anything you could possibly suggest please? Also, at which point should I put the cake in the freezer? Thankyou. Lydia :)

  8. Hi Lydia,
    Have you tried making a Madeira using Lindy’s recipe?
    Have a go at this and hopefully you won’t still have the same problem.
    Once the cake is cooled it can be put in the freezer.
    Enjoy your baking.

  9. Dear Lindy,

    I live in the UK and need to make a 3D Sewing Machine cake
    I have purchased your book Celebrate with a Cake which is
    great for ideas.
    The Maderia cake in the book is this suitable for the Birthday cake I have to make. Do I need to adjust anything
    for the UK. Also the use of Glycerine is mentioned in your
    Blog and a water bath in oven, will this be ok for a 3D
    Structured cake. And lastly would you cover the cake flat
    first or upright. Help….Please


  10. Hi Olivia
    Sounds as if you may have a US version of my ‘Celebrate with a cake’ book! Maderia cake is ideal for what you need. I guess you have read our post on baking the perfect maderia, we are also based in the UK but the tips given I think are useful where ever you live.
    Regards covering I would carve the cake to shape then cover it in sections rather than trying to cover it all in one go. Hope this helps
    Good luck

  11. Hi
    I have to make a two tier square wedding cake one chocolate and one Maderia. I will as always be using recipes from Lindys books. But I always seem to have a problem when covering with fondant. There seem to be large areas that don’t stick to the cake and cause large air pockets. I use butter cream first place in the fridge to harden then cover. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong? They are not air bubbles that can only be pricked with a pin. Really confused. Any help greatly accepted.

  12. Hi Caz,

    Have a look at this blog post, I think it will answer your queries:

    Enjoy creating the wedding cake.


  13. Hi there

    I am making my brothers and soon to be sister-in-laws wedding cake and I would love to do them a victoria sponge cake. I know you have suggested not to but I do not want to put icing on the cake I would just like to leave it open like the one on the link below, would this still present problems?


  14. margaret says:

    Hi Lindy,
    I have made your chocolate cake recipe (9″ square) from your fab books but as this was my first time using this recipe, I’m not sure how it is supposed to turn out. It is not as moist as I was hoping and was wondering is there anything you would suggest I could add to help with this (maybe a syrup or alcohol)?

  15. Hi Margaret,
    If you would like your chocolate cake to turn out more moist, we would recommend cooking it for less time and also placing a bowl of water on the same tray in the oven.
    A tray an inch or so above the cake also helps.
    Happy baking!

  16. Hi Layla,

    We recommend our recipes on this blog as they are tried an tested by Lindy and her team and therefore we cannot comment on a victoria sponge I’m afraid.
    Can anyone else advise on this?
    Wishing you the best.


  17. Hi lindy,

    I need to get a cake ready for the 10th of July by will have to bake and make the cake on the 4th July. My question is : am I ok to buttercream and jam the madeira cake? The madeira lastfor 2 weeks but how will the buttercream and jam be ok??

  18. Hi Nadia,
    When you bake the cake, cover it as soon as you can and it should last. Remember the 2 week Madeira rule: 1 week to create and 1 week to eat.
    Wishing you the best,

  19. Catherine says:

    Hi there
    I am making my niece’s first birthday cake and did a trial run – I followed Lindy’s recipe for the madeira cake and it turned out really well.It came out in a perfect square and tasted really well so I am really impressed! Will be making the proper cake now this weekend, just wanted to say how helpful your website and tips etc have been! Hopefully the real deal will turn out as well as the trial!!

  20. Hi im just woundering this madira cake recipe that u have is it a whole cake that i would have to half <also how high will this cake be once cooked!

  21. Barbara says:

    Hi Davina,don’t know if this will help but I always cut out the middle of the fondant on the board, cover the board all over then take the tin you are using to bake your cake turn it upside down and mark your fondant remove tin and cut away the middle, this will leave the right size space for your cake to sit on the board not the icing,
    I find this works everytime for me with no goo under the cake.

  22. Hi Barbara
    Thank you for your comment, what you describe is exactly how I was taught to cover a cake board when I first started 20 years ago!!! It does work and I always used to do my boards this way, but it takes a bit more time and sometimes the cake doesn’t quite sit right so nowadays I either place my cake on a thin cake board or waxed paper. However Davina do give it a try, the technique might suit you too.
    Happy sugarcrafting

  23. Hi There,

    Thanks for your question, The recipe for Madeira cake is for a whole cake, the cake will rise, probably about a couple of inches. Hope this helps and happy baking !

    Wishing you the best,


  24. Hi, your recipes are great! I will be baking a madera cake and icing it the following day as I go in holiday on the 15th September. The cake has to keep until the 24th September for a party. Do you think it would last ok until then?
    Thank you xx

  25. Hi Joanne
    Yes it should be fine, once covered store in a cardboard cake box somewhere cool away from excessive moisture
    Happy Baking

  26. Hi Lindy

    I am making a birthday cake which will be covered in sugarpaste – vanilla/madiera sponge. My friend would like it filled with fresh cream and strawberries. Is this a no for a covered cake, I think so? Would it work with a thin spread if I beat the strawberries into the cream? I always use buttercream so am not sure.

  27. Hi Mirry,

    The fresh cream will not keep and therefore we do not recommend using it unless the cake is to be eaten immediately.
    Would strawberry jam suffice?
    Piece, love and cake!


  28. Hi,

    I have made a 10″ Madeira cake tonight (24.11.11) which is cooling at the moment (I will be making a 7″ or 8″ tomorrow night for my second tier). My cake is for my engagement party next Saturday (3.12.11) Should I cover it in foil and leave it in the kitchen until Saturday when I have time to cover it in buttercream and fondant then leave again in the kitchen iced in a box until next Sat………..or should I cool and cover it tonight and then freeze tomorrow morning until next Thursday/Fri before I cover it in cream and fondant? Thanks for your help x


  29. Hello Stephanie,

    When you have taken the cake out of the oven, leave it to cool before wrapping it in greaseproof paper and then kitchen foil. Our golden rule is 1 week to decorate and 1 week to eat, so no need to freeze. Once iced store in a cake box in a cool place.


  30. Hi Lindy, I sent you a message a couple of weeks ago but don’t see it on here, I bought your large rose stencil and the smaller one, large one works lovely, i wanted to know what stencil did you use on the border of your wonky cake the one with the butterflies think it was pink on your dvd, It looks like a single rose. Many thanks

  31. Hi Maz
    The stencil you are after is part of the contemporary valentine heart stencil set click here for more information.
    I love the large chic rose stencil too
    Happy sugarcrafting

  32. Hi,

    I have recently frozen some cupcakes, both iced with buttercream and uni-ced. How long will they be ok to eat after defrosting?

    Thanks, Mandy

  33. Hello Mandy,
    They will “age” in the freezer, so I would get them out shortly before you intend to eat them. They won’t last as long as fresh cakes after defrosting.

  34. Hi I dont at the moment have deep cake tins, can I use 2 x sandwich tins for the madeira cake?


  35. Hi Trina

    Thanks for your question.

    You can use sandwich tins but remember that you will need to reduce the cooking time.

    Happy Baking!


  36. Hello. I am going to purchase a food mixer and note that Lindy uses a Kenwood, and I wonder which model it is. Can you let me know.

  37. Hi Helen,
    Lindy has got the kenwood major classic.
    Wishing you the best

  38. Kimberley Gallacher says:

    Hi Lindy, would you be able to tell me how much ingredients I would need for your madeira cake

  39. Hi Kimberley,
    Here is our blog post for an 8″ Madeira:
    To change the quantities if you are using a different sizes tin/pan please refer to this blog post:
    Happy Baking!

  40. Kimberley Gallacher says:

    Hi Lindy, would you be able to tell me how much ingredients I would need for your madeira cake for a 12″ square pan? I had a look at your chart and not sure If I’m looking at it wrong but the ingredients seem a bit much. If you could confirm it for me it would be greatly appreciated! I have to make a large cake for a childs 2nd birthday party, it is my first time making a cake for a lot of people so I am panicking!
    Thanks for your help
    Kimberley x

  41. Hi Kimberley,
    The chart has been used many times and appears to be correct.
    We do say though that if you have mixture left over to make a few cupcakes too.
    Hope it is a sweet success.

  42. Kirsten Jane says:

    Hi Lindy

    Can you help? I am making a madeira sponge and will be covering it in fondent icing – how should I store it after icing (it will be eaten the day afterwards)? In a tin, a plastic tupperware pot, open to the air? I don’t want it to dry out or to start sweating!

    Thanks, Kirsten

  43. Hi Kirsten

    Once the cake is iced, store it in a cardboard box, not an airtight container.



  44. Emma Porter says:

    Hi, I have offered to make a number 1 cake for my niece’s birthday this weekend! There is absolutely no way I could ice it with fondant as it would look an absolute mess – I just don’t have the skills so I am going to decorate with butter icing.

    The tin is being hired from a local cake store (the larger size number one); therefore no cutting/shaping will be needed.

    What I want to know is…

    1. Could I use a sponge for this or do I need to do the Madeira cake as I have heard that the Madeira cake creates a crust & I don’t want to loose the shape of the number 1 by trying to cut it off?
    2. Can I glaze with raspberry jam & leave to dry before applying the butter icing or will the jam shine through?

    I know it’s not going to be the most professional looking cake but I would still like it to look nice.

    Any other tips you can offer would be much appreciated!

    Many thanks!

  45. Hi Emma

    You could use a sponge recipe for your cake.

    I would just put the buttercream directly on the cake and not put jam on first. You could split the cake and put jam in the middle if you wanted some jam on the cake.

    I hope this helps . Good luck!


  46. Rebecca Spence says:

    Hi Lindy

    I would like to make a two tiered cake for my son’s first birthday party and am trying to decide on a recipe to use. I would like to make a chocolate cake but I’m worried it won’t store as well as a madeira cake.

    His party is on the Saturday and I would have to make the cake on Tuesday. I would also like to be able to ice it with fondant icing as soon as possible so that I have enough time to decorate it (we don’t have a big enough freezer to make in advance and freeze it).

    Do you have any advice or know a chocolate cake recipe that will keep well for four or five days iced?

    Thank you!


  47. Hi Rebecca

    My favourite chocolate cake recipe is Lindy’s chocolate fudge cake. It covers well with fondant and tastes delicious! Here is a link to the recipe:-

    Good luck!


  48. Hi, im making my brothers wedding cake. One tier is going to be Madeira. I always use Genache to ice underneath my fondant to get a smooth neat finish but I wanted to use a buttercream and jam style cake for this tier but it’s obviously not going to go with the chocolate Genache. I’m already doing a chocolate cake with rasberry filling and chocolate Genache for one of the tiers so didn’t want to make the Madeira in to a chocolate cake as well by using chocolate Genache and chocolate buttercream. Can you suggest any fillings?

  49. Hello Clare,
    You can flavour your buttercream with just about anything. Citrus, alcohol, nutty or fruity are just a few flavours.

  50. Hi Lindy,
    I have recently made 2 cakes using one of my favourite but dreaded colours (sugarflair grape) I have found on both occasions that the purple paste once on the cake starts to fade to a pale blue colour, have you ever experienced this and if so can you advise on an alternative brand or solution to problem. This is the only colour I have had this problem with.
    Can’t wait for new book!!
    Big Fan

  51. Hi Hilary, purple is notorious for doing this – it happens with the Squires lilac as well but it fades to pink! The best approach is to keep the paste and cake away from any light as much as possible. For purple I use the M&B amethyst sugarpaste we stock as it doesn’t fade that much.
    Happy sugarcrafting

  52. Hi Lindy. It’s probably a silly question. But I’m from Australia, and I don’t think many people use the term madeira. So what is Madeira cake anyway? Is it different to butter cake? I normally make vanilla, chocolate or coffee cakes, and people often ask me, is it a butter cake or a sponge cake? And I would say it’s a butter cake. Because sponge has much softer texture. So…I’m a bit confused here. Could u please tell me the difference between madeira, sponge, butter cake and a normal cake? Or r they the same in recipes but just different methods? Thanks in advance. Really appreciate your comment :) btw, love reading all these questions. Have taught me a lot of new things :) thanks heaps xx

  53. Hello Vita,
    Looking at the recipes I’d say a butter cake is the same as a Madeira. The difference between a sponge and a Madeira is that a sponge cake would be too light and fluffy to support sugarpaste. A Madeira is a dense but moist cake and is ideal for covering with paste.
    Thanks for your kind comments too Vita.

  54. Hi I have been cake decorating for over 20 years with a break in between and have come back to it so am rediscovering everything, so pleased to have found your Madeira recipe going to try this next time! Do you have any tips on using sugar syrup and can you use it on smaller cupcakes. Should it be room temp and should the cake be warm when you put it on and do you just brush it on lightly with a pastry brush? Thanks so much. Kim

  55. Hi Kim
    Sugar syrup can be used on cakes and cupcakes, it should be used when the cakes are warm so that the syrup can be soaked in, and yes it is just brushed on lightly with a brush. Hope you are enjoying your return to cake decorating and are having fun rediscovering your talents!

  56. hi i have made your madira cake with all your tips and for a first attempt they have turned out brilliant thank you so much. what im now wondering is how long before can i decorate it?? thanks again

  57. Hi Jo
    Lindy always says one week to decorate, one week to eat it! For best results leave the cake overnight to settle then you can deocrate! Hope that answers your query!

  58. Hi

    I’ve dedicatedly been sticking to Lindy’s chocolate cake recipe for party cakes – it is a great recipe and has never let me down! But I’ve recently decided to start trying my hand at carving shaped cakes, so I’ve now started freezing the chocolate cakes before working with them – once defrosted, do you still have a week or two to eat them, or do you have to eat the defrosted cake within a shorter time?
    Thank you!

  59. Hi Shakera
    We would recommend using the cake within a week once it has been frozen and defrosted.

  60. Hi,

    I have used your madeira cake recipe and it seems to have worked perfectly :-) I have now carved the cake, filled it (jam and buttercream) and have put a crumb coat on.

    I have been keeping it in an airtight container till now and once I ice with fondant I’ll put in a cake box. I just want to know how long I can leave it with just the crumbcoat on in an airtight container?


  61. Hi
    Glad your madeira cake turned out well.

    We recommend storing your cake without any icing until you are ready to put on the buttercream and then the fondant at the same time. If you have been storing your cake in the fridge or a cool place it should be okay, but not for long simply because of the butter in the icing.


  62. May daughter wants a 3 tier naked wedding cake and I am planning on using your madiera recipe. We were thinking of different flavours for each tier.
    Base plain middle lemon and top rose water, how much rose water do you think i would need to add to an 8inch round tier recipe.
    We were planning on cutting each tier in half and sandwiching it with cream and strawberries and raspberries flavoured with rose you think this combination would work with all the tiers.

  63. Hi Maggie

    We don’t have any experience with the rosewater flavoured cake. It would just be a case of your personal taste.

    Not sure about the combination of strawberries and cream in the middle of each tier, purely from a stability point of view. I don’t think it would hold another tier on top steadily. You would need to dowel each tier in any event.

    Again, the combination of filling is your personal preference, but it sounds yummy!

    Good luck and hope it all goes well.

  64. I have just made the orange and poppy cupcakes from Lindys book. I dont want to add the buttercream until Sunday (5 days away) how am I best storing them? The book says they last 2 week. If I put in a cake box they will dry out but worried cases will peel in an airtight container? Help!

  65. Hi Jo

    In Lindy’s Cupcake Celebration book it does recommend storing in an airtight container until you are ready to decorate – but make sure they are very cool first. You should decorate them as closely as possible to when they are going to be eaten to help prevent drying out. Alternatively use foil or high quality greaseproof cases and cover the top of the cakes to seal in moisture.

    Hope this helps

  66. Hi

    If I make a madeira cake today am I ok to leave it in an airtight container without covering until sunday?
    The cake is being collected next thursday! I don’t need to freeze do I?


  67. Hi Kim

    The madeira cake will be fine if kept in an airtight container until covering.