August 19, 2017

Baking The Perfect Madeira Cake

After several requests from workshop students, I am posting the “Madeira Cake” blog.  Good luck and hope this helps you.

Before working at Lindy’s I had never made a Madeira cake.  My first attempts weren’t great – they came out of the oven domed, very crispy on the outside and really dry.  I had conquered the decorating but the cakes weren’t getting eaten! So Lindy set me a challenge –  to create the perfect Madeira!

Well it’s taken three attempts and I’ve cracked it.  I used Lindy’s 8” Round Madeira recipe (see below).
Here are the extra tips Lindy has given me from her years of  baking experience, plus a few of my own :

  1. Use real unsalted butter.  Margarine and spreads have a too high water content.
  2. Make sure you take your butter and eggs out of the fridge so they can reach room temperature.
  3. Lindy’s Madeira should be cooked at 160°C but, as I have a fan oven, I turn it down 20 degrees to 140°C and place a bowl of water on the shelf.  My oven has baking trays that slide directly into it so I put one tray in for the cake to sit on and place another tray above it giving enough room for the cake tin plus about three inches clearance.  If you don’t have trays that slide in, just use the shelves and place a baking sheet under the cake and on the shelf above.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until white.  What I do is turn on the mixer and leave it to do it’s thing while I get on with the next stage.  This will take about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Line the inside of the tin as usual and then line the outside of the tin with newspaper – I use lots – at least 5 pages folded to about the height of the tin and secured with Sellotape.  This means that the cake will cook slower around the outside and more evenly throughout so you do not end up with a dome in the middle.
  6. After I have added the eggs (each with a little flour to stop curdling) I then add the flavouring.  Lindy’s recipe asks for the zest of two lemons.  I love lemony flavours so I add the zest of four lemons and the juice of half a lemon (make sure you put a good spoonful of flour in with this to stop curdling).  At this stage you can add glycerine.  You need ¼ teaspoon per egg.  This helps to keep the cake moist.  Add the remainder of the flour and gently fold in.
  7. When you spoon the mixture into the baking tin you need to scoop out the middle, so all the mixture is around the side of the cake tin and you can see the tin at the bottom (a bit like a ring doughnut!)  Don’t be nervous and just make a small dip in the middle – you really need to scoop it up the sides of the tin.
  8. Put it in the oven and bake for 1½ hours.  Check after this time with a skewer in the middle.  If it comes out clean the cake is done.  If not, depending on how much ingredient sticks to the skewer, give it 10 minutes more until the skewer comes out clean.  My cakes take longer than the recipe states because of the newspaper the lower cooking temperature – usually about 2-2¼ hours so don’t worry if it is still a bit “wobbly” at 1¾ hours.  Just check every 10 minutes.
  9. Leave your cake in the tin to cool, then transfer to a cooling rack.

This should produce a firm but moist cake.  Why not have a go!

Jane Dolder

Madeira baked as a mini cake

Madeira baked as a mini cake using a multi mini tin

8” Madeira Cake

350g (12 oz)              Unsalted Butter

350g (12 oz)              Caster Sugar

350g (12 oz)              Self Raising Flour

175g (6oz)                 Plain Flour

6                                Large Eggs

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Grease and line the cake tin (pan) with baking parchment.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light, fluffy and pale. Sift the flours together in a separate bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, one at a time, following each with a spoonful of flour, to prevent the mixture curdling.
  4. Sift the remaining flour into the creamed mixture and fold in carefully with a large metal spoon.
  5. Transfer to the lined bakeware and bake, see above but everyone’s oven is different.. When the cake is ready it will be well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool then, leaving the lining paper on, wrap the cake in foil or place in an airtight container for at least 12 hours before cutting, to allow the cake to settle.

Different sized/shape tin? Please click here to see a simple chart for changing quantities

If you fancy having a go at baking a batch of madeira minis, we sell some wonderful sets of multi-mini tins, available through our online shop. They come in 3 sizes: 5cm (2in), 6.5cm (2.5in) and 7.5cm (3in), just click on the size that interests you for more information. Have FUN!



  1. Hi Nina
    Instead of paper you can use damp paper towels and foil. Simply place damp folded paper towels onto foil and fold the foil around the paper to create an insulated strip. Attach this strip around your cake to protect it.
    Hope you find this helps
    Happy Baking

  2. Hi – well am I glad I found your site! I’m making my son’s wedding cake – and it’s to be a madeira top cake and cupcakes on the tiers below. I’m good with cupcakes but never made a madeira – now I have your recipe and tips I feel ok about that – however – I’ll need to ice it – some clue as to how to do that would be great please… I jam up, then ice, can I use ready rolled fondant… please….Dee

  3. Hi Dee

    I would buttercream the cake and then cover it in sugarpaste (fondant). You can use ready rolled fondant if you wish.

    Good luck!


  4. Dear Jane,

    Thank you so much for posting some tips on how to bake the perfect Madeira Cake.
    I have been looking at various madeira cake recipes, and some use only self-raising flour, and others a mix of self-raising and plain flour. Is there a scientific reason why some recipes use both and not just self-raising?

    Mant Thanks,

  5. Hi Dwe

    Our recipe which has a mixture of plain and self-raising flours, produces a denser cake which is then suitable for covering in sugarpaste.

    Happy Baking!


  6. Rebecca says:

    Hi!! I just wanted to thank you so much for this wonderful recipe and tips. I have successfully made it three times now and have saved it in my recipe tin. It’s a great cake to decorate for celebrations like i am now doing with fondant. So far it’s been buzz lightyear’s body and a dartboard, but tonight a pretty and simple design with flowers :o)

  7. Hi Jane,

    Just wondering how you would adapt/increase your recipe to suit a 8″ and 10″ square mould?

    Any help would be great xx

  8. Hi Nicola

    Please follow this link to our blog post about changing quantities which will help you to adapt your recipe to a square tin.

    Happy Baking!


  9. Hi Rebecca

    So glad you are enjoying making Lindy’s madeira cake recipe. It’s a great cake for carving and covering in sugarpaste.

    Good luck with your future creations!


  10. Hi there, I made your madeira yesterday and followed the recipe to the T, it ended up as a very very thick mixture which I added a bit of milk to just so i could mix it. It smelt gorgeous while and after cooking, inserted a metal skewer which came out clean. Today I have decorated it and it looks really good. I tasted a slice and it is so heavy and stodgy. I could cry i had such high hopes for it :-( What did I do wrong any ideas????


  11. Hi

    Can you please tell me if you can use this recipe for a 13 x 9 inch tin and what the quantities would be. I need to carve the cake from this size.


  12. Hi Claire

    So sorry to hear you were disappointed with your madeira cake. This type of cake is generally a very heavy cake so that it can hold up the sugarpaste decoration. Although it shouldn’t really be stodgy, but it is nothing like a light victoria sponge, which would collapse under the weight of any sugarpaste topping.

    Is is a thick mixture and doesn’t need milk to thin it down, maybe this is what made it stodgy.

    You have probably made it right and it sounds like it was cooked through, but it is always a heavy type of cake.

    Kind regards

  13. Hi Ange

    Try going onto Lindy’s Blog FAQ for tips on how to change your cake recipe quantities (click on link below).

    We don’t have any quantities for oblong tins so can’t help you with an exact recipe.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards

  14. Liz Pitter says:

    Hi there,
    can I put cocoa powder and milk in the normal Madeira recipe to make it a chocolate madeira?

    Thank you

  15. Hi Liz

    We don’t recommend putting cocoa into a madeira cake.

    Try the chocolate fudge cake recipe (link below)

    Good luck
    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  16. Hi

    I’ve made the made amdeira cake to your recipe before and it’s great but how long will the madeira cake be OK to eat once decorated (buttercream & fondant)?



  17. Hi Sue

    Madeira cake should last for 2 weeks from when you baked it. Once covered, it needs to be stored in a cake box.

    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  18. Hi

    I was just wondering if I could use Stork instead of butter in this recipe, or will it make the cake less firm and unable to support the sugarpaste


  19. Hi Jo

    It is best to use butter as the cake texture and taste will be better.



  20. karen little says:

    hi do you have to put glycerine in the madeira cake mixture as it isn’t on the actual recipie you have but yet you say 1/4 tsp per egg? and if i use marg instead of butter will it not work?
    many thanx karen x

  21. Dear Lindy and team,

    I have made your lovely madeira cake today and it looks fab, great consistency and nice and firm for my sugarpaste. I followed Jane’s tips as above and am very pleased with the cake. The only thing is that it has breaks running across the top like little rivers. How could I avoid this next time? Any help gratefully received :-) many thanks, Rachel.

  22. Anne Marie says:

    Would this recipe work in a sphere cake tin? I need to make a half soccer ball and have the correct tin but so far all recipe attempts have failed so I was advised I should use a Madeira recipe instead of sponge recipe, can you help?

  23. Hi Karen

    You do not have to put glycerine in the madeira cake, it is just an ingredient that can help to make the cake more moist. It is best to use butter as the taste and the texture of the cake will be better.

    Happy Baking!


  24. Hi Rachel

    Your cake sounds lovely, but it usually has a crusty top, so don’t worry – you can always slice off the top if you don’t like the cracks which would make a very even top ready for adding sugarpaste to.

    Thanks for your comments.
    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  25. Hi Anne Marie

    Madeira cakes are much more dense than a sponge cake. If you wanted to put sugarpaste on top to decorate your cake, then it needs to be a solid cake like madeira cake or Lindy’s chocolate cake recipe.

    Click on the link below and see if that helps you adapt your cake recipe quantities if you need to.

    Good luck.
    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  26. Hiya,

    I have baked your madeira cake many times now and always bake it about a week before it is needed to ensure that it’s moist. However I am baking a short notice one today which is needed for Saturday, will it be best to put the glycerin in the mixture as the time from baking to eating will only be 4 days.

  27. I have made your cake. It is very dry what have I done wrong?

  28. Hi Clare

    I think you should be okay without the glycerin as there is still time for it to moisten over the 4 days.

    Good luck
    Lindy’s team

  29. Hi Emma

    If you leave your cake to settle for a few days, it becomes more moist. The top is always crusty so you could slice that off.

    You could use Glycerine 1/4 teaspoon per egg which will moisten the cake.

    If you have a fan oven, put a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven which will create steam to keep it moist while cooking.

    Hope this helps.

    Lindy’s Team

  30. I love your recipe and have now used it a few times. I normally make the cake and decorate same day for eating the next day but Can the cake be made 1 day and decorated day after for eating on day 3 or would it store ok fully decorated for 2 days before eating? If it is ok to store undecorated and wait for next day decoration how is best to store it?? All tips greatly appreciated!! If its stored for a couple of days fully decorated do u just keep it in a normal white card cake box?

  31. Hello Joanne,
    If the cake is undecorated it needs to be kept in an air-tight container and then once decorated it should be stored in a card cake box.
    Lindy’s madeira recipe keeps for 2 weeks, and Lindy decorates it in the first week and then this leaves another week for it to be eaten.
    I hope this makes sense.

  32. Hi, I wanted to know if I could substitute some of the flour for ground almonds and would you add any almond/vanilla essence to the cake. Also the notes above suggest adding zest of 2 lemons but I cant see when in the mix you would add this?
    I am making this tomorrow for a retirement cake.

  33. Hello Pat,
    Firstly apologies for the late reply. You should substitute the plain flour with 3tbsp of ground almonds and 1tsp almond extract. If you are using lemon flavouring put the lemon juice and zest in with the eggs and a good tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture curdling.

  34. roberta says:

    Hi LIndy, If i bake, fill and cover a wedding cake (for my son) 4days before driving to Scotland for the wedding, would I be safer using buttercream or ganache? I shall only be able to use cool bags and ice blocks to keep it cool until the day.
    Many thanks for any help

  35. Hello Roberta,
    That’s a difficult one because of temperatures and humidity. When Lindy tries any new recipes, either cake or covering, she tests it out. So it may be a good idea to make a small cake and cover it with buttercream or ganache and taste a little each day. You should be able to tell when it doesn’t taste good anymore!
    Hope this helps, and let us know what the result is!

  36. alejandra says:

    is this recipe ok to make basic cupcakes? and you don’t any vanilla? or flavoring is up to us?? Thank you

  37. I came across this on a search and I need to make a cake for a graduation. My question is if I made the cake about a week before I need to deccorate it, should I freeze it or put in an airtight tin as I don’t want yhe cake to dry out.
    Many thanks.

  38. Carolyn says:

    Hi Lindy,
    I recently made a three tier wedding cake using your madeira cake recipe and choc fudge for the top….it turned out great. But I have one query….I made the middle cake lemon, and although I followed the recipe and advice tips exactly, it turned out a little stodgy and much more dense than the vanilla tier. It seemed sort of more oily……could it have been the oil in the lemon zest that caused this? Also, my cake tins were not very deep, so I cooked half the cake at a time, and reduced the timings, which worked out fine. BTW…your choc fudge cake recipe is legend….very happy Bride and Groom!

  39. Hi Debra

    You can bake the madeira cake up to 2 weeks before you need it and store it in an airtight container. Once you put sugarpaste on, if you are decorating it, it will need to be stored in a cake box. The cake will have a crusty top which you can cut off if you want and should become more moist with time.

    Good luck.

    Kind regards
    Lindy’s team

  40. Hi

    I would not use this recipe for basic cupcakes. I would use a basic vanilla sponge cupcake recipe or Lindy has some lovely recipes in her Bake me I’m yours..cupcake celebration book. Here is a link to it on our online shop:-…..cupcake-celebration-by-Lindy-Smith.html



  41. Hello Carolyn,

    Not really sure what happened here! If you used fresh lemon zest this shouldn’t affect the cake. It could be the eggs – did you use the right amount of eggs for the recipe? If so it’s a bit of a mystery. Have any of our followers had this problem?


  42. hi there

    this recipe is fab or should i say the cake tasted fab! but would like to know if it could be adapted to make it into a chocolate cake. this is fab for using as a celebration cake covered in fondant but the chocolate cakes i have made always seem a little to soft/moist for covering so was wondering if it can be done with this recipe by adding cocoa powder? thanks

  43. Hi

    I have just followed the Madeira Cake recipe and the results look good. I am making the cake for a wedding and I am currently baking a tester cake to try it out. I see it can last for 2 weeks. I have just taken the sponge out of the oven today. I read that it should rest for 12 hrs before cutting and that the cake moistens over time. I want to cut and level out the tiered cakes before covering with buttercream, jam and sugar paste. If I leave the sponges wrapped in foil for a few days will this then help moisten the cake before icing and decorating?

    For the ‘real’ cake I plan to bake the sponges 7 days before they will be eaten, ice with buttercream, jam and sugarpaste 2/3 days after baking, then decorate the day before as I have to transport the cakes. Does this all sound fine in terms of the cake still being moist to eat?

    Lastly if I cover the sponges in foil and later sugarpaste and leave in a white card box, should I keep the cake cool by chilling in a fridge until transporting and then chill during transport? We are having a hot summer here…

    Many Thanks Fiona

  44. Hello Lisa,
    There is a recipe for a chocolate Madeira style cake in all of Lindy’s books. It is a little time consuming but produces a delicious cake. Alternatively why no try our Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe. It’s a moist firm cake that is great for carving and covering.

  45. Hello Fiona,
    Right – lots of questions! Hope I can answer them all for you!!
    Firstly you are right – a Madeira will last for two weeks, so ideally bake and decorate in the first week and have a whole week to eat it! After baking leave it to rest for at least 12 hours, wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil to stop it drying out, (I would usually bake in the evening and then start working on it the next day) and then you can split and fill and start to cover. It will moisten even when covered so you don’t have to worry about leaving to moisten before covering. Just a tip – don’t fill with buttercream and jam in the same layer. If you want to use both split the cake twice and fill one with buttercream and the next with jam, otherwise the sections will slide against one another.
    Once the cakes are covered in sugarpaste you should place them in a cardboard cake box in a cool dark place, a pantry or cupboard should be OK. Don’t be tempted to cover in clingfilm or foil once decorated – the sponge will be sealed in by the sugarpaste so shouldn’t dry out. Don’t chill them either. If you place them in a fridge – when you take them out they will get covered in condensation.
    Hope this helps Fiona, good luck.

  46. Hi
    I’m relatively new to this cake making business and came across your website which is full of lot of interesting stuff! I appear to have volunteered to make a birthday cake big enough to feed 18 adults and 4 kids, and I’m confused as to which cake would be best and what size it should be. I can make a decent Victoria sponge but I want to decorate it on top and see that a Madeira cake may be better for this? I wanted it a bit “posher” than a plain Victoria sponge with icing or buttercream on the outside as well as a layer inside. As far as size goes I’m even more confused! As far as I can see an 8 inch round cake feeds about 8 to 10, so I thought an 11 inch would be better (and I have one) but I read somewhere that that would feed 40!! Please help me!
    Thank you in advance.

  47. Hello Katie,
    You will need a Madeira or other firm cake for covering with sugarpaste. It will support the weight of the sugarpaste better. You can flavour your Madeira too – there are tons of possibilities. The portions you are quoting are typically for wedding cakes, so you would get a small slice or cube. I would suggest an 8″ round cake would be plenty, with some left over. All this information, and a lot more, is available in Lindy’s Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible – a really good start for a beginner.
    Good luck.

  48. Hi,

    I was wondering what depth of tin this 8″ recipe will fill? I have a round tin c3″ deep and as a bit of a novice I’m not sure if this will be deep enough?

    Many thanks in advance,

  49. Hello I am using the Madeira base as a wedding cake layer, but wanted to make it chocolate orange- any tips on quantities?

  50. HI

    I baked your madiera sponge on Saturday and I covered with buttercream and fondant on Sunday. I know that the cake lasts two weeks and I previously asked about my timings so I could get it right. The cakes are now stored in cake boxes.

    I joined another blog site and I have received many unhelpful often abusive messages that my cakes have been made too early and covered with sugarpaste fondant to early. I followed Lindy cakes recommendation. The cakes will be eaten one week after baking and 6 days after covering with fondant.

    I am now really worried as I am receiving a lot of unhelpful messages on this other blog site.

    Please reassure me the cakes will be okay?

    Also the main reason I posted a message on this site was to find out if I can insert the dowels for the 2 tier cake before the day? Will that effect the sponge moister or icing?

    Please help I am now very worried!

  51. Hi there

    The recipe is based on a 3″ deep tin so you should be fine.

    Good Luck

    The Lindys Cakes Team

  52. im making a 3 tire wedding cake, ive converted the recipe to a 10 inch and 12 inch tins, do i need to change the temperature for the larger tins? thanks
    (first 8inch and trial bakes turned out perfect!)
    thank you


  53. Hi there

    I have used Lindy’s Madeira recipe for a 12″ round cake today. It took a lot longer to cook than timings given and a metal skewer inserted in a few areas came out clean. When I cut it open it all looks cooked & moist but there are a couple of small areas that look a bit different in texture – almost oily?? Not sure of best way to describe them. I hope you can help. Thanks. Karen

  54. Hi Miles

    You do not need to change the oven temperature for the larger tins.

    Good luck with your cakes!

  55. H Karen

    Unfortunately we don’t have anyone in the office at the moment who can answer baking queries but it sounds like your mixture may not have been blended thoroughly. It is a really thick dough and difficult to mix. All cakes have slightly different baking times due to different ovens so it doesn’t matter if it took longer to cook. I can’t think of any other reason for you to have patches of oily cake.

    Sorry we can’t help you further at this time.

    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  56. Hi Fiona

    Unfortunately at the moment we don’t have anyone in the office who can help with cake baking queries.

    Our usual advice to anyone storing cakes is that before it is decorated store in airtight container and once decorated store in a cake box. This should be stored somewhere cool, not the fridge, but if you have a cool room. I suppose everyone has their own ideas about storing cakes. Lindy says madeira cake should last 2 weeks, as it improves with age and becomes more moist.

    I am sorry but we are not sure whether the dowels will affect your cake if inserted too early, but I think if you leave it until the day before it will probably be ok.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team

  57. Hi Leona

    Unfortunately at the moment we don’t have anyone in the office at the moment who can help with cake baking queries. We don’t have any experience with chocolate orange so wouldn’t be able to give you any tips on quantities.

    Sorry we can’t help you further at this time but good luck with your cake.

    Kind regards
    Lindy’s Team


  1. […] Anyway, it was time to make the cake… I used a simple madeira cake recipe – the one on Lindy’s blog is great for carving.  I won’t regurgitate it here – check out Lindy’s blog. […]