An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit

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An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit and a lemon icing glaze with a srinkle of toasted almonds

This easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit recipe is buttery and delicious. The fruit is soaked in Madeira wine making it even more of a treat. I added a Lemon icing glaze but this cake is just as nice without.

This is a really easy cake with only six ingredients that come together quickly. The only thing that takes time is pre-soaking the raisins and sultanas in something deliciously boozy before. The longer you leave them to soak the more they absorb the liquid. Two to three days is optimal.

You can speed this up by heating the raisins and sultanas with the liquid in a small pot, bringing it to a boil and then letting it cool. This cake is lovely to serve with a glass of Madeira wine, fortified wine or Muscadel.

Baked Madeira cake with fruit in cake tin

If you don’t have self-raising flour use two teaspoons of baking powder with regular cake flour. You can of course skip this step and add the raisins in without being pre-soaked.An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit being iced

Madeira cake is a classic known for its simplicity and rich flavour. This dense yet delicate cake originates from the Portuguese island of Madeira. The cake is characterized by its buttery, slightly crumbly texture and a subtle hint of lemon zest.

As this is quite a dense and neutral cake it can carry other flavours very well. It’s a great cake to add other things.

Variations of Madeira cake:

Lemon Madeira cake:  Leave out the vanilla and fruit and add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the batter. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers before for optimal flavour absorption.

Orange Madeira cake:  Do as above and leave out the vanilla and add the zest of an orange and 15ml of orange juice. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers before for optimal flavour absorption.Almonds on top of an easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit recipe

Spicy Madeira cake: To make the cake spicy, replace the white sugar with dark brown sugar or Muscovado sugar and add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of mixed spice.

Cherry Madeira cake: Stir half a cup of halved glace cherries into the batter before baking.

Almond Madeira Cake: Add ½ teaspoon of almond essence to the batter and sprinkle about 50 grams (1/3 cup) of flaked or nibbed almonds over the top before baking.

To amplify the booziness of this classic Madeira cake with fruit recipe, drizzle additional Madeira or fortified wine over the top after baking and while the cake is still hot.
A slice of cake and a whole Madeira cake with fruit and a lemon frosting

Freezing and storing

This easy Madeira cake with fruit recipe can be made in advance and frozen. Simply double wrap the cake in cling film and then aluminium foil and freeze.

To thaw, leave it at room temperature until it has thawed.

An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit and a lemon icing glaze with a srinkle of toasted almonds

This cake is often made in a loaf tin so you can make a small 18cm round cake as I have done or alternatively make it into a 22cm x 12 cm loaf tin.

I prefer to line my baking tins with paper as this prevents them from over-browning and makes removing the cake from the oven easier.An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit and a lemon icing glaze with a srinkle of toasted almonds

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Recipe makes 1 x 18 cm round cake or a medium loaf cake


An easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit

A classic and easy Madeira cake recipe made more delicious by soaking the raisins and sultanas in Madeira wine.
Print Recipe
Almonds on top of an easy and classic Madeira cake with fruit recipe
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:50 minutes


Madeira cake:

  • 1 cup raisins and sultanas
  • 2 Tbsp currants optional
  • ½ cup Madeira wine fortified wine or white muscadel (optional)
  • 150 gms sugar
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 150 gms salted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • 200 gms self-raising flour

Icing glaze:

  • 130 gms icing sugar sifted to remove any lumps
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Toasted slivered almonds to decorate optional


  • Preheat the oven to 170C/340F.
  • Pour the booze of choice over the raisins and sultanas, cover and allow to soak for 1.5 – 3 days. Give it a stir when you remember.
  • Rub the lemon zest into the sugar. This allows the lemon oils to infuse with the sugar.
  • Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until pale (about 3 minutes).
  • Add each egg one at a time, ensuring they are well incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl down to ensure all the butter is incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  • Add the flour and mix very briefly until just combined.
  • Drain the raisins from their liquid and add the mixture and beat for 3 seconds until just incorporated. Reserve the liquid to brush over the cake when it comes out of the oven.
  • Line or spray your loaf or 18cm cake tin with baking pay and or cooking spray. Spread the batter into the tin ensuring it gets into the corners. This is quite a thick batter.
  • Bake for 45 – 55 minutes (depending on pan & oven) and until a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean when the cake is pierced. A loaf cake might bake in a little less time. Loosely cover the cake with a piece of tin foil from about 10 minutes into the baking time to prevent over-browning.
  • Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before taking it out and allowing it to cool further.
  • Once cool mix the sifted icing sugar together with two tablespoons of lemon juice until you get a runny consistency. Add a little more to thin it out of necessary.


This cake can be frozen. Cover it well with tin foil or cling wrap.
Servings: 8 – 10
Author: Sam Linsell


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