Lemon Madeira cake recipe

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Lemon Madeira cake is a baking classic and this recipe takes only 15 minutes to prepare.

Lemon Madeira cake recipe
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 5 mins
Total Time1 hours 20 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories381 Kcal19%
Sugars22.5 g25%
Saturated Fat12 g60%
Protein5.7 g11%
Fat20.1 g29%
Carbohydrates43.7 g17%

Lemon Madeira cake requires only five ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prepare. 

Although the flavour of this cake is similar to a lemon drizzle cake, the texture is a little denser. It lends itself well to being served with ice cream or custard and if it goes a little stale, try grilling the slices for a couple of minutes on each side. 


  • 175g (6oz) butter, softened
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 thin slices candied citrus peel (optional)




  1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan, Gas 4). Grease and line an 18cm cake tin.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. This can take around 10 minutes if the butter is not soft to begin with.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour with each egg. Fold in the lemon zest , juice and the remaining flour.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. If using, add the slices of candied peel to the top of the cake then return to the oven and bake for another 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is just firm to touch.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove it and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Top tips for making lemon Madeira cake

Lemon Madeira cake can be stored in an airtight container or cake tin for 3-5 days but it will taste best when eaten as close to when it was baked as possible. For ideas on what to serve with Madeira cake or if you’re interested in finding out where it got its name, read below for our tips. 

How to serve lemon Madeira cake?

This cake is best served fresh. It’s important to let it cool aptly before slicing otherwise it will crumble a lot. Enjoy it with a cup of tea as an afternoon pick-me-up or try it as a dessert with some warm custard. 

What is the difference between sponge cake and Madeira cake?

Although sponge cake and Madeira cake have many of the same ingredients such as butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, the quantities are different. A sponge cake will usually have equal amounts of flour, sugar, and butter whereas in this recipe it’s equal butter and sugar but a little more flour. This is what gives Madeira cake a slightly denser texture. 

Is there Madeira in Madeira cake?

No - contrary to popular belief, and as this recipe demonstrates, traditional Madeira cake does not contain Madeira wine. It is thought to have derived its name from the early nineteenth century when Madeira wine was often served with the cake as a popular afternoon treat. 

To keep this cake at its best, you need to store it in an airtight container. Food writer Jessica Ransom loves the space-saving set from Joseph Joseph which includes a variety of different sizes.

Joseph Joseph Nest Lock, 5 Piece Plastic Food Kitchen Storage Container set with lids - View at Amazon

Joseph Joseph Nest Lock, 5 Piece Plastic Food Kitchen Storage Container set with lids - View at Amazon

This set includes every possible size container you could need. Whether you store the cake whole in the biggest blue-lidded container, or you slice it into smaller portions and take it for a desk snack or picnic treat using the small 8oz tub, Joseph Joseph has got you sorted. The tubs are leakproof, airtight, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe. 

Our lemon pound cake has a similar texture to this cake but uses more ingredients. You might like our lemon cake with poppy seeds which looks fantastic when sliced or if you’re after something more moist,  our lemon cake with olive oil is a winner. 

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.