I want to tell you a story about a cake.
Once upon a perfect crumb of a time,
there was a cake
of utmost richness.
There, in that easy to read recipe,
there were all the normal characters;
butter, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, milk, flour.
One could call this cake whatever one wanted to, but one eggbeater using pastry chef knew it to be Yellow Cake, because that's what she looked to make, and perfect, one day whilst consulting at her local food shop.
many a waxing and waning sweet moon later,
said pastry chef found herself making a long long journey,
across land and sea,
through high clouds and many a time zone.
She brought her trusty recipes with her.
She held them tight and unfurled them one at a time.
She introduced them to the metric system and a match was made.
Kingdoms of frostings and fillings,
chocolate curls & light-as-snow dustings of cocoa and icing sugar,
fruit jams and curds,
plain cakers and over-the-top concoctions,
Or did it?
What's in a name?
Is a cake a cake a cake a cake?
Who writes the borders of cakes? Defines those borders?
Says what a cake is? Is not?
One day, just days ago, in fact
Yellow Cake thought to make another appearance,
appear on another menu,
clear across Londontown,
in a whole other venue,
a whole new chapter.
the most famous of all American Cake layers,
milk was brought gently to room temperature,
the Dry, Wet, Dry, Wet, Dry method was employed,
Warm cake out of the oven.
Warm scent wafted, seduced
Waiters from near and far came.
What is this, O Cake of yours?
And so she sliced and placed warm cake into people's hands and so it went into their hungry wanting mouths.
Buttery, vanilla perfumed cake.
First an Irishman, then a gal from South Africa. Three British mouths, a deeply handsome fellow from the Congo, two delicious Italian gentlemen, a Swede and an elegant & poised New Zealander.
All mouths, all ate warm cake, all OOOOHED and AHHHED and responded with an answer.
The Name.The Name of The Cake.
Tea Cake (not to be confused with Teacakes which are a yeasted bread in the UK), Madeira Cake, Sponge, "Something my Granny made for tea with cream and jam. MMMMMmmmmmm!"
Not one person could agree. Except the 3 who said Madeira Cake, and the person who said, "It is definitely NOT Madeira Cake."
Madeira Cake is not what you might think. It is not a cake made with Madeira.
After much perusing through images and recipes, Madeira Cake appears to be what we in America would call Pound Cake. Although the amounts of ingredients might differ, the end result appears to be the same.
While my cake definitely can not be defined by the same characteristics as Britain's own Madeira Cake, it is the name that stuck, and the name it is sold under.
And the clincher? One very loud American hating customer says it's the best Madeira Cake in London. heh.
MADEIRA CAKE, shuna stylee
UNSALTED BUTTER, room temperature 200g
CASTER SUGAR 375g
PLAIN FLOUR 225g
BAKING POWDER 2.5 teapoons
FINE SEA SALT 1 teaspoon
LARGE EGGS* 150g
EGG YOLKS 80g
WHOLE MILK, room temperature 165g
VANILLA EXTRACT or vanilla sugar 1 Tablespoon
165 C in fan assisted oven or 175-180 C still ovenThe method for this recipe is the same as for the Yellow Cake.
Shuna's Baking Hints:
*The eggs I'm using weigh between 50-60 grams each.
Know this: this cake attracts a fair amount of colour in the oven because it has a lot of fat in it. Do not judge whether it's done based on colour. I use the 'bounce-back' test and touch the middle of the cake. Also if cake pulls away from sides of pan it's done. A sharp something small inserted in the middle should come out dry, as well, when cake is done.
Because the batter is fairly liquid and has a fragile emulsion (all cakes utilizing the Dry, Wet, Dry, Wet, Dry method do), it likes to be evenly spread in shallower vessels as opposed to deep ones.
If you think cake is going to be done in 40 minutes, set first timer "long," meaning cake does not like to be looked at/checked in on before it has "set."
Butter & parchment-ing sides of pan will help cake rise and not topple over in oven if you have even slightly overfilled baking vessel.
I always place my cake tin on a baking tray. It makes it easier to turn the cake around in the oven, check on it and take it out when it's done. For the science-minded folks-- this trick also helps with even heat distribution, which sensitive cake batters appreciate.
Do not skimp on the ingredients here. Cake should taste of the best butter & eggs!
Shuna's Madeira Cake will keep for a lot longer than you might think after it has been made. In the above photo lemon zest and chopped rosemary was added to batter and just about anything would only compliment & complement this cake further.