This is the first question that came to mind when I made this cake. At first I figured it must come from the Madeira Islands … apparently not! According to the internet (i.e. Wikipedia), the recipe originated in England in the 18th/19th century and was named after Madeira wine, which was served with the cake and popular at the time. Huh … You learn a new thing every day.
History lesson over, I chose the recipe because I was intrigued by the amount of ground almonds it used … OK, you got me, I actually picked it because I had nothing else in my cupboard and this cake doesn’t need anything random!
So I turned on my oven and prepared my cake tin with greaseproof paper (the typical Mary Berry way). The recipe said to bung it all in and mix it – which I’m very wary of – so I used my standard method. I firstly beat together the butter, sugar and lemon and added in the eggs. Then I added the almonds and sifted the flour before mixing for a bit longer till it all came together.
This went into the tin and in the oven for around 30 minutes. The recipe then says to take the cake out and put some citron peel on top before putting it back in for another 10-15minutes. Naturally I didn’t have any, in fact, I didn’t know what it was and guessed it to be any citrus type fruit. So… I used some orange peel … Ah well!
Once the cake was ready and the kitchen smelt like roasted almonds, I took the cake out to cool and served it up with tea (obviously I didn’t know you had to serve it with wine at the time).
The cake is actually really delicious, it’s quite dense and could potentially be mistaken for dry; it actually reminded me of a few Iranian desserts, which are meant to be accompanied with a drink – normally tea. The almond wasn’t overwhelming but complimented the cake really well. Mary Berry does it again, she’s fast becoming my favourite cookbook.