This delicious, light, and moist cherry and almond Madeira cake is an ideal weekend treat! Serve it for breakfast, afternoon tea, or after dinner - you will enjoy it anytime with a cup of good coffee. Oh, and did I say it’s very easy to make?
Why Make This Cherry and Almond Madeira Cake?
The recipe is super simple and the final loaf comes out soft and moist, with a lovely crunch of the almonds on top. It contains common ingredients which can be found in most store cupboards.
Unlike the original recipe, this is an oil-based version of the traditional Madeira cake. Perfect if you have no butter on hand!
This sponge cake typically has a large crack on top. The crack appears as the dough rises in a hot oven, creating a visible dome in the middle.
It can be baked in a loaf tin, but also in a round cake tin (20cm diameter).
Looking for more easy dessert recipes? Try these triple chocolate crepes, soft pancakes with fruit or fluffy American-style pancakes. Every brunch or dinner party will be awesome with red velvet muffins or espresso panna cotta.
Why Is It Called Madeira Cake?
Although the name may suggest it, Madeira cake doesn’t actually come from the Portuguese island of Madeira.
It is named after Madeira wine, which was usually paired with this type of cake. This combination became hugely popular back in the early to mid 19th century.1 The cake doesn't contain any wine.
English Madeira cake is also known as butter cake, pound cake, yellow cake or loaf cake.2
This Madeira cake contains classic pantry ingredients. To make one loaf, you will need:
- Brown sugar
- Free-range eggs are richer in taste and a wonderful source of Vitamin D and protein. Eggs from free-running hens have beautiful orange yolks which also give this cake a darker and more vibrant color.
- Vanilla extract, if you can, use one from Madagascan vanilla for more delicate flavour.
- Almond flakes give the cake crunchy bite and denser texture. Chop some of them finely - now you got ground almonds to add to the dough!
- Self-raising flour or a mix of all-purpose (plain) flour and baking agent - see substitute section.
- Baking powder to help lift up the cake even more.
- Sunflower or vegetable oil to allow the cake to stay moist and light.
- Glace (candied) cherries for extra yummy and juicy filling. You can also use frozen cherries. See the substitutes section and recipe notes for more details.
Are you missing any of the ingredients? Don't worry, here is a list of options if you need to make a swap:
- Use lemon zest (from ½ unwaxed lemon) instead of vanilla extract;
- Mix plain (all-purpose) flour and baking powder instead of self-raising flour (mix together 180 g of plain flour and 2 teaspoon of baking powder);
- Swap baking soda for baking powder (use ⅓ of bicarbonate soda compared to the total amount of baking powder needed, as baking soda is much stronger)
- Bake with frozen cherries (170g) directly from frozen, no need to defrost before, just cut them in half before coating them in flour;
- Finally, use white sugar (granulated or golden caster) instead of brown sugar.
Just like with any other recipe, it's good to prepare all ingredients before you start baking.
Ensure you have everything and check for substitutes (above) in case you miss any key ingredients.
- Start with rinsing the cherries under running water. Use a sieve. Let the cherries drain properly, set on a plate and dry them thoroughly with a clean tea towel.
- Prepare your baking tin - line it with parchment paper.
- Beat the eggs and them with sugar.
- Sift the flour and add it to the cake dough mixture. Mix well until the batter is smooth and thick.
- Add vanilla extract, ground almonds and oil.
- Coat the cherries in flour.
- Transfer part of the cake mixture to the baking tin, and top with half of the cherries. Repeat. Sprinkle with almond flakes and bake.
Feel free to play around with the flavours of this Madeira cake!
It will also taste delicious if you:
- Use orange zest instead of vanilla extract or lemon zest;
- Use candied orange peel or candied fruit (apricots, raisins) instead of glace cherries.
- To speed up the preparation, put together all of the ingredients first. Use a kitchen scale to get exact measurements.
- Use chilled eggs in this recipe, not at room temperature. Put them in the fridge 30 minutes before baking if needed.
- To help prevent the cherries (fruit) from sinking in the cake mixture, dust them in flour before adding them to the batter. Also, layer out the batter and fruit quickly to stop them from sinking down to the bottom of the cake.
- Only bake in a well-preheated oven. Switch it on ahead of time.
- Does your oven bake unevenly? Turn the baking tin towards the end of the total baking time (but no earlier than 40 minutes into baking, as the cake could collapse).
This cherry and almond Madeira cake will stay fresh and moist for up to 4 days. Keep it in an airtight container at room temperature.
If using frozen cherries, consume the cake within 2 days.
You can make this Madeira cake ahead of time - this cake with glace (candied) cherries can be stored frozen in an airtight container in the freezer, for up to 3 months.
Defrost slowly in the fridge at least 12 hours before serving (or overnight).
Do not freeze cake made with previously frozen cherries (fruit).
Coat the cherries (fruit) in flour before adding them to the dough. This will help them to stick to the dough more and slow down the sinking. Always put them on top of the batter. Quick layering out the batter, fruit filling, and any topping before putting the cake in the oven helps too.
Yes, you can freeze Madeira cake made with glacé cherries. Do not freeze the cake if you used frozen cherries.
Glace cherries are coated in a thick sugary syrup, which could change the consistency of the cake if added to the batter just as they come. Therefore, it is recommended to rinse them under running water and pat them dry before proceeding with other steps in the recipe.
They are! The name glace cherries or candied cherries are commonly used in the UK and the US for the same product - cherries that have been treated in a thick syrup.
No, it is in fact an old British and Irish cake recipe. The cake has been traditionally served with a glass of Madeira wine, hence the name.
Madeira cake contains more flour than Victoria sponge, giving it a denser texture, perfect for carving (slicing). Victoria sponge on the other hand is light and fluffy, and typically comes cut in the middle and filled with cream and jam.
The cake rises quickly in a hot oven, and so the crack appears in the middle of the dome. This is a typical feature of the Madeira cake. Do not open the oven for the first 40 minutes of baking to prevent the cake from collapsing.
Madeira cake can be served as it is. However, you can also serve it with: icing sugar, lemon icing, lemon curd, warm custard, ice cream or whipped cream. It tastes delicious with a cup of tea, coffee or Madeira wine.
📖 The Recipe
Madeira Cake with Cherries and Almonds
- kitchen scale
- mixing bowl
- baking paper
- loaf tin
- 3 free-range eggs, large, chilled
- 100 g brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 180 g self-raising flour, plus some for dusting
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 20 g finely chopped almond flakes or ground almonds
- 100 ml sunflower or vegetable oil
- 200 g glace (candied) cherries
- 10 g almond flakes
For serving (optional)
- icing sugar
- Rinse the glace cherries under running water, and pat dry with a table cloth. (Skip this step if using frozen cherries!)
- Line a loaf tin with baking (parchment) paper. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/338F/Gas mark 3.5.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together eggs and sugar and whisk until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
- Place a sieve on top of the mixing bowl and sift through flour and baking powder. Using a spatula, fold it all together until the batter is smooth and thick.
- Add ground (or chopped) almonds and oil and mix thoroughly until all of the oil is absorbed in the batter.
- Cut cherries in half and roll them in 1 tablespoon of flour so they are fully coated.
- Transfer ⅔ of the batter into the baking tin. Sprinkle with half of the cherries. Cover with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the rest of the cherries and flaked almonds. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer after 45 minutes of baking. The cake is ready when the skewer comes out clean. Leave for another 5-10 minutes if there are bits of dough sticking to it. Repeat this test before turning off the oven.
- Leave to cool down, dust with some icing sugar and serve as it is or with a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!
- lemon zest (from ½ unwaxed lemon) instead of vanilla extract;
- plain (all-purpose) flour and baking powder instead of self-raising flour (mix together 180 g of plain flour and 2 teaspoon of baking powder)
- swap baking soda for baking powder (use ⅓ of bicarbonate soda compared to the total amount of baking powder needed)
- use frozen cherries (170g)
- white sugar (granulated or golden caster)