Delicious Cake from Madeira | Salt of Portugal

The roots of the delicious cake from Madeira dates back to Madeira‘s “silver era.” This epoch commenced in the 15th century when Henry the Navigator introduced sugar cane from Sicily for cultivation in Madeira. The island emerged as the primary sugar provider for Europe until the initial half of the 16th century when this duty shifted to Brazil.

Over the years, the recipe for this delightful cake has been refined. Despite its title, the cake does not include honey. Instead, it blends flour, yeast, nuts, dried fruits, spices, and Madeira wine with sugar cane molasses, recognized in Madeira as sugar cane honey.

The molasses bestows a luxurious taste and contributes to its prolonged preservation—the cake can endure for about a year. Traditionally, these cakes served as a sweet recollection of home for seafarers on extended voyages.

Welcome the New Year with a slice of the delightful cake from Madeira for a joyous experience.

Below, we provide a variant of the formula crafted by the esteemed Maria de Lurdes Modesto. It demands more than a week to prepare a cake from Madeira. Nonetheless, there’s a simpler approach to relish this marvelous dessert: plan a visit to Madeira in 2024!

We extend warm wishes for a New Year as sweet as the cake from Madeira.

Delicious Cake from Madeira (formula by Maria de Lurdes Modesto)


  • Wheat Flour: 160g
  • Baker’s Yeast: 5g
  • Lukewarm Water: 0.25dl
  • Lard: 200g
  • Butter: 125g
  • Cane Honey: 450ml
  • Flour: 465g
  • Sugar: 250g
  • Orange Zest and Juice: From one large orange
  • Walnuts (Chopped): 250g
  • Almonds (Chopped): 75g
  • Fennel Seeds: 10g
  • Cinnamon: 20g
  • Cloves: 5g
  • Sweet Madeira Wine (Bual or Malmsey): 1 tablespoon
  • Additional Decorations: Walnuts, citron (optional), almonds
  • Grease: For the baking pans


Commence a day before baking. Form the yeast mixture by combining 160g of wheat flour, 5g of baker’s yeast, and 0.25dl of lukewarm water. Stir well, cover, and leave in a warm, sheltered location.

On the day of baking

Gently dissolve 200g of lard and 125g of butter in a saucepan. Once melted, add 450ml of cane honey.

Sift 465g of flour with 250g of sugar into a large bowl (usually an “alguidar”). Make a cavity in the center. Pour the prepared yeast mixture into the center. Blend the molten fats and honey into the well. Initiate mixing the ingredients. Include the zest and juice of one large orange. Knead thoroughly until the dough is sleek and devoid of lumps.

Incorporate 250g of chopped walnuts, 75g of almonds, and 12g of citron (known as cidrão in Portuguese, a citrus fruit commonly candied and used in desserts like Bolo Rei). Introduce the spices: 10g of fennel seeds, 20g of cinnamon, and 5g of cloves. Pour in a generous tablespoon of sweet Madeira wine. Knead the amalgamation thoroughly by hand. Conceal the bowl and position it in a warm, secluded spot.

Permit it to rest for 2 to 4 days. Following the resting duration, segment the dough into 250g or 500g portions, contingent on the desired cake size. Utilize rounded, shallow, well-greased baking pans without a hole in the center. Adorn the cakes with walnuts, citron (if accessible), and/or almonds.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (about 374°F). Bake for around 30 minutes or until thoroughly baked. Transfer the baked cakes onto wire racks to cool. After cooling, drape them with a cloth and allow them to settle for 2 to 3 days. Subsequently, encase the cakes in parchment paper and stash them in hermetically sealed containers.

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