I feel that Madeira cake is a bit neglected, but I always find myself returning to it. Buttery, rich and comforting, this one is spiked with lemon zest, fragrant thyme and honey for good measure (I've based the flavours loosely on Nigel's Slater's lemon and thyme sponge).
If you're stuck for a Mother's Day treat to bake on Sunday (or have forgotten, oops), this here's a good 'un. Easy to whip up and perfect with a cup of tea and a cuddle on the sofa.
Lemon & Thyme Madeira Cake
You will need:
For the cake:
- 175g unsalted butter
- 175 caster sugar
- 3 free range eggs
- 200g self-raising flour (or plain with 1 tsp baking powder)
- 2-3 tbsp milk
- 1 lemon (unwaxed)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp honey
For the syrup:
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 900g / 2lb loaf tin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and very fluffy.
- Beat the eggs and pour a third into the butter mix, along with a tablespoon of the flour to stop the mixture from curdling. Stir well. Repeat with the other two thirds.
- Slowly sift in the rest of the flour and stir lightly until just combined. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time to keep the mixture smooth (it should have a dropping consistency).
- Zest the lemon into a separate bowl together with the thyme leaves and honey, and pound together into a paste.
- Stir gently into the cake mixture.
- Spoon into the loaf tin and smooth the top flat.
- Bake for around 40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
- Place the honey, lemon juice and thyme leaves in a bowl with a splash of boiling water and stir well to combine.
- While the cake is still warm, poke holes in the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup, so that it soaks in.
- Decorate with a sprig of thyme and a more than generous drizzling of honey.