Madeira Misery!

Baking By kazbur Updated 10 May 2013 , 1:56pm by pona

kazbur Posted 7 May 2013 , 5:05am
post #1 of 17

Hey all,


I recently baked a madeira (Lindy Smith's recipe) to go under choc ganache and fondant. The flavour was good, but the first time I cooked the cake, it came out completely raw inside - I didn't realise until I tipped it out of the tin after cooling, and the entire cake collapsed.


Second time I made sure it was cooked through (took 2hrs 25 mins for an 8" round) - I don't think I overcooked - scooped out the middle as per Lindy Smith's blog, quadruple-wrapped in newspaper, put baking tray on top shelf to stop overcooking, after an hour I added wax paper to stop top drying, added glycerine to recipe to improve moisture...


It looked beautiful, perfect shape, no doming, but when the cake was cut, it was really stodgy and a bit dry (if it's possible for those two things to be true!) - I didn't like it at all.


So.... is it that madeira is supposed to be dense and stodgy? Should I be looking for a new recipe, and if so, what? For same combo, ganache and fondant....


Or if I baked it in two tins, do you think it would cook more quickly and evenly and then be less, well, dense and stodgy... and dry?!


Am tearing my hair out - I hate to go to all the trouble of baking a cake only to have to bin it, or serve it and be disappointed. Also, I didn't fill the cake because it was my first fondant, and I was nervous of having to cut and fill it - seemed a step too far. Maybe if it was filled, and/or a syrup added? But am afraid syrup would make it even more stodgy in the long-run.


If I could skip the baking bit of cake decorating, life would be soooo much easier, ha! We don't have cake mixes where I live, so it really does have to be a from-scratch cake.




16 replies
mcaulir Posted 7 May 2013 , 6:42am
post #2 of 17

How did you test that the cake was cooked?


Many scratch cakes seem more dense than packet mixes - maybe that's the problem?

Chellescakes Posted 7 May 2013 , 7:13am
post #3 of 17

It may be as simple as getting an oven thermometer, your oven temp may be off. 

kazbur Posted 7 May 2013 , 8:48am
post #4 of 17

AI don't know, have never eaten a packet mix cake to compare! actually think I just don't like the recipe... am at a loss as to what to make instead for my staple vanilla cake!

mmmmmmmmcake1954 Posted 7 May 2013 , 9:13am
post #5 of 17

Hi Kazbur, I personally find Madeira cake quite dense and only bake (scratch) one if I need to carve the cake into a shape (which madeira cake is good for), otherwise I make all my cakes from scratch, but usually bake vanilla  Victoria sponge or other good recipes from here:  

I have used these recipes many times and they have always turned out great.  HTH

gemmal Posted 7 May 2013 , 10:06am
post #6 of 17

I use this one, I cook it low and slow with wet towels around the pan, the cake rising to the top of my 3" deep PME pans and there's no problems! Although I did end up baking a 12" square 1" deep recently so whacked up the temp and it baked in 25/30 mins and was much softer. Oh and I can't get sour cream over 35% fat here so I just used double cream instead like for like and its perfect. My family actually prefer it to victoria sponge, which is something I NEVER thought would happen! It's softer than madeira but still works for tiered cakes. If not, I'm sure I used to use Nigella's madeira recipe and that was quite good, I think thats on the BBC website as well. Hope this helps! Good luck =]

AnnieCahill Posted 7 May 2013 , 12:22pm
post #7 of 17

Hey ya'll-what's the difference between a madeira and a Victoria sponge?  I have a few Victoria sponge recipes in some of my UK cookbooks but I've never baked either cake.

mmmmmmmmcake1954 Posted 7 May 2013 , 1:31pm
post #8 of 17
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill 

Hey ya'll-what's the difference between a madeira and a Victoria sponge?  I have a few Victoria sponge recipes in some of my UK cookbooks but I've never baked either cake.


Hi AnnieCahill,  Victoria sponge is a softer texture cake and has a shelf live of about 2-3 days, Madeira is much firmer in texture and more suitable for carving, the shelf life is up to about 2 weeks. 

auzzi Posted 8 May 2013 , 12:47am
post #9 of 17

Victoria Sponge is the same weight of butter, sugar, eggs and self-raising flour, and depending on technique, with a bit of baking powder. The batter should be a soft dropping consistency, so you can add a tablespoon or so of milk to suit.


Madeira cake is the same amounts plus 25-50% more flour, depending on the recipe. This is a dense cake. [It was originally formulated to be eaten with a glass of wine]. Some people loosen the mix with a bit of milk, some do not ... Lindy's recipe is based on the 50% additional flour. You can add 1-3 tablepoons to the mix.


An easy buttercake is: 125g butter, 185g sugar, 2 eggs, 250g flour, 3 ts baking powder, and 60-80ml milk [depending on batter consistency] Flavour with extracts, spices, etc of choice ...

AnnieCahill Posted 8 May 2013 , 10:32am
post #10 of 17

Thanks for clarifying that for me!  I'd love to try both cakes sometime!  I have also never made a mud cake and that's on my to-do list as well.  Thanks!

helen_freud Posted 9 May 2013 , 10:06am
post #11 of 17

i tried lindy's cake and had the exact same issues i did it for my friends son's birthday so luckily they wasnt paying me for it. she told me the taste was beautiful but it was so dry and it looked alittle undercooked even tho a knife came out clean. i will never use that recipe again but i am struggling to find one i feel happy with and that will hold the weight of all the marzipan and icing. i dont want to use a victoria sponge and it collapes on me.

AnnieCahill Posted 9 May 2013 , 11:13am
post #12 of 17

Did you guys read through the comments on her blog?  There are several pages where she offers suggestions.  I bookmarked the site to try it later, but it might be helpful if you want to try the recipe again.

Evoir Posted 9 May 2013 , 12:02pm
post #13 of 17

Madeira should have a fine tender crumb, and holds together beautifully. I love a good madeira - it should melt in the mouth with buttery goodness. OMG I want one now! With more melted butter on top after it comes out of the oven, then sprinkled generously with cinnamon sugar...mmmmmmm.

AnnieCahill Posted 9 May 2013 , 1:58pm
post #14 of 17

Evoir, do you make yours lemon-flavored?  Also, which recipe do you prefer? 

Evoir Posted 10 May 2013 , 6:16am
post #15 of 17

AHi Annie

Sometimes I make it lemon flavoured, most times just vanilla. Traditionally i think it has a bit of lemon rind and vanilla in the plain version. But I also use it as a base for quite a few recipes (such as a moist citrus/poppyseed cake). I've developed my recipe over the years but it is similar to a lot of recipes with a good deal of eggs and butter in it! Very similar also to a pound cake, but seems to have a bit more structural integrity.

If you google some Australian recipes for Madeira cake, you'll get a good feel for what I mean. Try the Australian Women's Weekly omline, and

AnnieCahill Posted 10 May 2013 , 1:33pm
post #16 of 17

Awesome!  Thanks Evoir for the tips!

pona Posted 10 May 2013 , 1:56pm
post #17 of 17

My view is that simple pound cake will do just fine.  It has good texture and has a longer shelf life.  I always add a small packet of pudding to get if very moist.

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