If you're looking for a cute and easy cake recipe to go with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream, you've come to the right place. In today's recipe, we'll show you how to make cherry madeira cake, a fruity variation of a quintessentially British teatime treat. And as we're at it, we'll give it a vegan and sugar-free spin — Foodaciously-style!
But first, let's learn more about the history behind this famous English dessert. You might wonder why is it called Madeira or if it's a Portuguese cake. Despite its name, this cake actually originated in England in the 18th century, where it was traditionally served with Madeira wine. This wine was a luxury drink at that time, produced on the Portuguese Madeira Islands, and became quite popular in American colonies and Great Britain.
Classic Madeira cake does not contain the eponymous wine or any other liquor, but rather it's comparable to a simple pound cake or sponge cake. It's prepared 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 yields a firmer texture. Also, Madeira cake is traditionally flavoured with lemon peel and not vanilla as in a typical pound cake.
The result is a slightly dense cake, yet moist, rich in flavour, and with lovely citrus notes. As many variations also include almonds and fruits, we decided to make 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 glacè cherries. But keep in mind that glacè cherries are candied in sugar syrup, meaning they're very high in sugar.
As promised, we designed our Madeira cake recipe to be vegan, sugar-free, and as healthy as possible. First, we reduced the fats and replaced butter with a little vegetable oil. Then, we used a combo of self-raising flour, vinegar, and baking soda to help leaven the cake without the need for eggs. Finally, we swapped cow milk and refined white sugar with plant-based oat milk and pure maple syrup, which has almost 40% fewer sugars.
All you have to do is mix the ingredients in a bowl and pour the cake batter into a loaf tin or round tin. Garnish it with halved cherries, and there you have it: a gorgeous cherry and almond Madeira cake. Once ready, you can frost it with our sugar-free glaze and sprinkle it with lemon peel, or you can fill it with our egg-free lemon curd. Thanks to its firm texture, Madeira cake is also great for preparing frozen desserts, trifles, and layered cakes. We also love it with a hot cup of tea, British-style, or with a big scoop of ice cream in the summer season!