Small Batch: Soft and Light Crumb Madeira Cake

This Madeira Cake is soft, moist with a light cake crumb. It is almost like a butter cake or pound cake, but with less butter (how great is that?). It is a very stable cake that is great for decorating and heavy frosting.

Madeira Cake

What is Madeira Cake?

Madeira Cake is British/Irish butter cake, or sponge cake. In English cookery, it is similar to a pound cake, sometimes also compared to a yellow cake. It it quite dense and stable are is a good base for decorated and frosted cake. It is usually serve plain with tea or coffee.

Did You Know That Madeira Cake

  • was named after the Madeira wine and not the Madeira Island. 
  • Is a British/Irish Cake
  • Is the equivalent of pound/butter cake, or yellow cake or sponge cake in English baking 
  • Is traditionally flavored with lemon zest 
  • Is often served with tea, but of course you can serve it however you want to

I never knew what Madeira cake was, more so why it was called Madeira. I came across this cake when I was watching a YouTube video and I got curious about it. Anything the is simple and easy to make always get my attention in an instant. Why not? Isn’t that what makes it interesting? The idea that you can make it at home and feel like the best baker ever. I’ve tested this couple of times, tweak some ingredients until I found the combination that I like. Here’s what happened in my testing 

Small Batch Madeira Cake

Test Kitchen – Madeira Cake

  • Test 1: The first time I made this, I used all/purpose flour and butter . The cake came out ok, it was stable, no sinking by the texture is a bit heavy, dense and slightly dry for me.
  • Test 2: To lighten the cake, I thought I would use part oil and butter to make the cake moist and soft, but still use all-purpose flour as the base Ingredient. The cake came out soft, moist. I actually liked the texture. I kept the recipe and use this version when I feel like this cake texture.
  • Test 3: I wanted to try if I can make the the cake soft, moist with light crumb and fine texture. For this one, I swapped all-purpose flour with cake flour. Cake flour has lower protein content, so it produces a lighter crumb cake. I also decided to use butter only, no oil. The cake turned out amazing! The top has a nice crunch and browning (thanks to butter and sugar), the inside was soft and moist, and the crumb was so light. This is the recipe that I am sharing with you today. 
Small Batch Madeira Cake

How to Make Madeira Cake

Making a Madeira Cake is very easy. It starts with creaming the butter, sugar and egg. The creaming process introduce air into the mixture producing a lighter cake crumb. This is a crucial stage in the process so it is important to do it right and to use room temperature ingredients to achieve best result. Once the butter and sugar has been creamed, simply add the flour, salt and baking powder and gently mix. Pour in a parchment line baking pan and bake. Simple, easy recipe. You can do this!

How to Make Madeira Cake

Tips to a Light and Soft Madeira Cake:

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Since the process requires creaming butter, sugar and eggs, it is very important that the ingredients is in room temperature so that it creams easily. This will result into a lighter, fluffier mixture which is essential to achieve a lighter cake. If you don’t have time to wait for the eggs to be at room temperature (normally 30 min outside the refrigerator), you can submerge it in hot water (not boiling water) for 5 minutes, that should do the job.
  • Creaming the Butter & Sugar: This process lighten the mixture, produces air into the butter thus resulting to a lighter crumb cake.
  • Do Not Over Mix: This goes without saying to most cakes, muffins, loaf bread and sometimes cookies. The longer the batter is mix, the tougher and dense the end product will be. So stop as soon as all ingredients are mix through.

There you go, 3 simple tips to a soft and fluffy cake that deserves a standing ovation. Let’s get started!

Can I Use All-Purpose Flour or Mix of Cake and All-Purpose Flour?

Yes you can. In my Orange Madeira Cake variation, I used a combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour. The difference will come down to texture of the cake crumb. Cake that uses cake flour has light fine crumb which can be attributed to the cake flour quality of having lower protein content as compared to all-purpose flour. Because of the lower protein content, cake flour produces less gluten which means lighter crumb. High protein = more gluten, and more gluten means chewier texture which is why high gluten flour like bread flour is suitable for bread making being it produces chewier texture. I personally like texture of cake flour especially when using pure butter (no oil) in the recipe. Another option is to have a mix of both if you don’t want a light crumb cake.

Tips in Making Madeira Cake


  • 1/3 cup unsalted Butter – room temperature
  • 2/3 cup Sugar ( Can be decreased to 1/2 cup if you want it less sweet)
  • 2 Eggs – room temperature
  • 1 cup Cake Flour
  • 2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Milk – room temperature

Room Temperature Ingredients: You do not have to literally measure the temperature of the ingredients. This simply means do not use the ingredients straight from the refrigerator. Just feel it, you should not feel any cold from it. For egg, simply submerge it in warm water for 10 minutes. For the milk, microwave it for 20 seconds then feel if no longer cold.

Flavoring Options:

  • Orange Flavor : Zest of 2 Orange
  • Lemon Flavor : Zest of 2 Lemon


  1. Pre-heat the Oven to 350F/180C. Grease a 6-inch round pan with oil or melted butter and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color (about 2 – 5 minutes). Remember, the butter should be softened for easier creaming. Add vanilla extract and continue mixing until vanilla extract is  distributed.
  3. Add Eggs: While the machine is running, slowly pour in the egg one at a time and continue mixing until fully incorporated. Scrape the side of the bowl from time to time. The batter will curdle, that is normal. It will come together when you start adding the flour.
  4. Add Dry Ingredients: Add the flour, baking powder, salt and citrus zest (if using any).
  5. Pour Milk: While the mixer is running, gradually pour the milk. Take care not to over mix once the flour is added or it can toughen your cake. Stop as soon as it comes together into a thick smooth cake batter.
  6. Transfer in a Pan: Pour the batter in the prepared pan and level the top using a spatula or back of a spoon. Tap on the counter 2-3 times to release the bubbles.
  7. Bake until the top is golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the center is still still sunken, continue baking for another 5 minutes until it puff-up. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
    • Pan size: 6-inch round pan – Bake 40- 45 minutes

Serves 4

Soft and Light Crumb Madeira Cake

Try it and let me know how it goes. Feel free to share this recipe and let’s get the community baking!♥

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