If you’re looking for a sweet and easy cake recipe that goes well with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s recipe we show you how to make cherry Madeira cake, a fruity twist on a quintessentially British tea treat. And while we’re at it, we’re giving it a vegan and sugar-free twist—Foodaciously style!
But first, let’s learn more about the history behind this famous English dessert. You might be wondering why it’s called Madeira or if it’s a Portuguese cake. Despite its name, this cake originally came from England in the 18th century, where it was traditionally served with Madeira wine. This wine was a luxury drink at the time, produced in the Portuguese Madeira Islands and very popular in American colonies and Britain.
The classic Madeira cake does not contain the wine of the same name or any other spirits, but is comparable to a simple sand cake or sponge cake. It’s made with plain flour, butter, white sugar, and eggs, pretty much like a Victoria sponge. However, the recipe calls for more flour, about 30% more, which gives a firmer texture. Also, Madeira cake is traditionally flavored with lemon zest rather than vanilla like a typical sponge cake.
The result is a slightly dense cake that is still moist, rich in flavor and with lovely citrus notes. Since almonds and fruit are also included in many variations, we decided on our recipe with almond flour plus fresh cherries, which are now in full season here. If you can’t find fresh cherries, you can opt for frozen or even glazed cherries. But keep in mind that Glacè cherries are candied in sugar syrup, which means they are very high in sugar.
As promised, we have designed our Madeira cake recipe vegan, sugar-free and as healthy as possible. First we reduced the fats and replaced the butter with some vegetable oil. Then we used a combination of self-raising flour, vinegar, and baking soda to leaven the cake without the eggs. Finally, we replaced cow’s milk and refined white sugar with plant-based oat milk and pure maple syrup, which contains nearly 40% less sugar.
All you have to do is mix the ingredients in a bowl and pour the cake batter into a loaf pan or round shape. Garnish with halved cherries, done: a wonderful cherry and almond Madeira cake. Once ready, you can glaze it with our Sugar-Free Frosting and sprinkle with lemon zest, or fill it with our Egg-Free Lemon Curd. Thanks to its firm texture, Madeira cake is also great for making frozen desserts, trifles and layered cakes. We also love it with a hot mug of British style tea or, in the summer season, with a large scoop of ice cream!