Madeira Cupcakes

Madeira 3 You know, losing weight is hard when you run a baking blog.

In an effort to keep under my daily calorie limit, I’ve gone for another buttercream-free recipe this week. Sure, it still has a good dollop of real butter and plenty of sugar, but the lack of buttercream means it’s a vaguely healthy bake. Right?

Sure, I’ll just keep telling myself that.

Madeira 1

Anyway, this week’s bake is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time but just never got around to. Madeira cake is something I’ve always been a little bit scared of. It’s a dense cake but somehow light at the same time? What is this witchcraft? It has both lemon rind and ground almonds but doesn’t really taste like either? Whaaaat? Just baffling! However, I put my faith in my good old Easy Cupcakes book once again, and prayed for success to the baking gods, because my husband really likes Madeira cake and and I’m counting on him eating his share of these so I don’t have to. My Fitness Pal would not be happy with me.

Madeira 4

Having never made any kind of Madeira cake before, I was really worried when I got to the “fold in the flour and almonds” stage and was left with a batter so thick it was practically a dough. I nearly added milk to thin it down like you would with any regular sponge, but after a quick Google which told me absolutely not to do that, I gritted my teeth and ploughed ahead with filling my muffin pans. It was with a shaky hand I surrendered these weird dough-cakes to the oven. I had to come away from the kitchen while they baked and do a bit of crochet to calm myself and keep my hands busy to avoid peeking in the oven. “Trust the recipe” I repeated to myself while crochet-ing like a mad woman.

Madeira 5

The recipe came through (or perhaps the baking gods were in a good mood). These cupcakes are the perfect light/dense, buttery rich deliciousness you expect from a Madeira. The water icing gives just that nice sweet top to balance the cake without overpowering it. I’ve never been blown away by store-bought Madeira cake, but then most store-bought cakes are pants compared to their homemade counterpart, because homemade rocks, so what was I expecting really? But these…mmmm. So good.

So the moral of today’s story is – always trust your recipes. They’ll look after you.

Madeira 2

Madeira Cupcakes

Makes 12 large-ish cupcakes

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 115g golden caster sugar
  • Finely grated rind of half a lemon
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 40g ground almonds

For the icing

  • 55g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tsp warm water


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with cases
  • Beat the butter, sugar and lemon rind in a bowl until light and fluffy
  • Gradually beat in the eggs, then sift in the flour and add the almonds, then fold in carefully until combined. Remember – the mix will be very thick, but don’t cave and add any extra liquid!
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Mine took 23 minutes. Leave to cool fully
  • To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the warm water to make a fairly runny icing. Spoon or brush the icing onto the cakes once cool and leave to set

You can add a thin slice of candied peel to the top of each cupcake just before baking for an added treat if you like (neither me or hubby like candied peel much so I left it off).

This week’s bake is another from the fabulous Easy Cupcakes from Marks and Spencer


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