This is a rich sponge cake that, contrary to its name, does not include Madeira, nor did it originate from the Madeira Islands. Historically, it was a popular cake to serve alongside glasses of the fortified wine in the 19th century in England. Madeira cake is usually flavoured with lemon zest and topped with candied peel and has a firm yet light texture.
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Madeira cakes improve in flavour and texture after one or two days, and so can be made in advance and wrapped tightly in aluminium foil until needed. This cake also freezes well.
Madeira cakes are made using the creaming method. Lemon zest is folded into the mixture, which is then baked until golden-brown and springy to the touch. Allow the cake to cool in the tin slightly, then turn the sponge out onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely. Decorate with lemon peel before serving.