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!
|Apple Cider Vinegar
|Vegetable Oil (e.v.o. oil or rapeseed oil)
|Cherries (pitted and halved)
Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl to make vegan buttermilk.
Let the mixture sit undisturbed while you prepare the other cake ingredients.
Add self-raising flour, almond meal, baking soda, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt to another bowl and mix well.
Now, incorporate the milk mixture into the flour, followed by maple syrup, vegetable oil, and lemon essence.
Add the ingredients a bit at a time and mix with a hand or electric whisk until they're fully incorporated.
You should have a creamy and smooth cake batter.
At this point, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric to give the batter a lovely yellow colour.
Then, tip in half of the cherries and stir well.
You can also use frozen cherries. There's no need to thaw them first; you can add them frozen right into the cake batter.
Now, take a loaf tin, grease it with oil, and pour the cake batter, filling it at two-thirds.
Then, top the batter with the remaining half of the cherries.
Bake the cherry cake at 180°C (355°F) for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
The cake is ready when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave it to cool down completely on a wire rack.
You can swap plain flour with wholewheat flour for a healthier cake, adjusting the liquids if the batter feels too dense.