Madeira Cake

This cake makes a great Christmas cake alternative for people who don’t like dried fruit. If, as in our family, you end up doing both fruit and madeira, try making this one square for a different look:


For this recipe there are two alternative methods: with and without a food processor. Both ways give good results. Either way you will need an 8″ / 20cm round or a 7″ / 18cm square cake tin, some greaseproof paper and a wire cooling rack. Without a food processor, you will also need a large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer. If you need a different size from this, go here for scaled versions of the recipe

Recipe: Madeira Cake

Summary: Perfect for icing


  • 8oz / 225g plain flour (sifted)
  • 1 very heaped tsp baking powder
  • 6oz / 175g softened dairy-free spread
  • 6oz / 175g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp soya milk/rice milk/oat milk
  • grated zest of 1 lemon


By hand

  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 / 170°C / 325°F
  2. Line and grease an 8″ / 20cm round cake tin or 7″ / 18cm square one.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Cream together the spread and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat the eggs together in a dish and add the vanilla essence
  6. Add the egg mixture to the spread and sugar a little at a time, adding about a dessertspoonful of flour with each addition of egg to prevent curdling. Blend each addition thoroughly.
  7. Add the milk and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Pour into the prepared tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  9. Bake for 1h30 to 1h45. Test whether or not the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
  10. After removing the cake from the oven, leave it to cool in its tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Remove all greaseproof paper and leave to cool.

In a processor

  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 / 170°C / 325°F
  2. Line and grease an 8″ / 20cm round cake tin or 7″ / 18cm square one.
  3. Put everything into the food processor and “whizz” until the mixture is smooth and looks very creamy. I tend to use the medium speed.
  4. Pour into the tin and cook as for the hand made version.

Quick Notes

We tend to split this cake and fill it with a layer of “butter icing”, then marzipan and ice it with roll-out icing which can be decorated with marzipan, holly leaves and berries, bells etc..

A madeira Christmas cake!

A madeira Christmas cake!


As with all the other cake recipes in this collection, I have made this very successfully with 81% Stone Ground flour. As before, I would advise using self-raising flour and still adding the baking powder. I put a dessertspoonful of water in with the eggs when I mix them up, to compensate for the extra absorbency of the bran content.

Preparation time (duration): 15 minutes

Cooking time (duration): 1 hour 30 – 1 hour 45 minutes

Diet type: dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: dessert

Microformatting by hRecipe.

14 comments to Madeira Cake

  • Sue Burch

    Hi, please can you indicate how to scale up your madeira cake recipe for larger numbers of people – we want to use this recipe for a much larger celebration cake (madiera is ideal for wedding cake for example, because it is firm enough to hold the heavy icing).

    Thank you

  • Atomjack

    Hi Sue. There’s a scaled-up version of the recipe here. Hope it’s useful!

  • Amy

    Hello. Thank you for the recipe. I know that Madeira cake made with butter in the traditional way is longer lasting a normal sponge cake (up to 2 weeks) and also is actually better after a couple of days than on the day it is baked. Do you know if this is the same for your dairy free version? How long does your cake stay fresh.? I am wondering if the use of spread (I have dairy free Vitalite) rather than butter means it does not last so well, perhaps due to the higher water content. Thank you in advance.

  • Amy

    An update for you – I made a test cake to see if it would last. I wrapped it well in baking parchment and foil, in a tin. When I cut it two days later, it tasted lovely and fresh. I covered it with fondant and cut it two days later to taste and it was perfect again. Thank you for the great recipe which means dairy free mum can enjoy the Chrisetening cake! Recommended to others for special occasion cakes that need to be made in advance.

  • Hi Amy,
    Sorry about the delay in replying, my email hasn’t been picking up the messages for some reason. I use this recipe every Christmas and it keeps really well for up to a week as you work your way through it, provided that you cover the cut bit with tight clingfilm. After that it starts to get a bit stale. It’s very good for a tiered cake as well. Just put some cake dowels down through it and sit the next tier on pillars or on its own slim board.
    If I’m making the cake for a party, I make it two days before the do. I usually try to ice the cake the day after I make it so that it’s completely cold and isn’t going to sweat under the icing. The sooner you get it all sealed in under the icing the better it will keep.
    I hope the christening goes well and that everybody enjoys your cake!

  • anne

    thanks for this i have a friend whos little girl cant have dairy but she wanted a nice cake for her first birthday. Now all i have to do is find another one for my vegan friend and i will be set lol. If anyone knows of a nice sturdy cake recipe which is vegan would be very grateful.

  • I hope you enjoy it! You can add halved glace cherries to the mix if your friends little girl is a cherry kind of girl. Mine is! Just make sure you poke the cherries under the surface so they don’t burn. I’m not up on vegan recipes I’m afraid. Good luck!

  • Cheryl

    Please could you let me know the repipe for bigger tins round and square , the cake sound great can’t wait to try one.. Thank you in advance

  • Hi Cheryl,
    Sorry to be so long replying: life’s very hectic! You need to look at the post “Madeira Cake i All Sizes”. See the reply to the first comment below for a link. I’ve done a chart showing the proportions needed for a wide range of round and square tins. I hope you enjoy the cake. It’s easy to make and very reliable. Have fun!

  • Kareen

    Could you tell me how high your 8 ” round tin is?

    Many thanks

  • Hi Kareen,

    My 8″ round tin is 3″ high.
    Happy baking!

  • Lynne

    How long do I have to cook a 12″ (30.5cm) square cake for this recipe please.

    Many thanks, Lynne

  • Laura

    Hello, Can you freeze this cake?

    I know other recipes that you are going to ice afterwards say that you can freeze it. But these other recipes are not dairy free!


  • Hi Laura,

    Yes, the dairy-free version also freezes well. Just make sure it’s completely defrosted before starting to ice it or it will sweat under the icing.

    Happy baking!

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