A dried fruit rather than a seed, caraway is warm, sweet, and slightly minty. Used judiciously, it adds an interesting – in the best way – flavour to a simple cake. The Madeira, a fortified wine from the Portuguese islands off the coast of north-west Africa, and the hazelnuts add notes of luxury to this otherwise understated cake.
175g butter, at room temperature
175g castor sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
175g self-raising flour
50g hazelnut meal
1½ tbsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
60ml sweet Madeira wine (or sweet sherry or marsala dolce)
50g demerara sugar
50g skinless hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1. Lightly grease a 1kg loaf tin (or 20cm round tin) and line it with baking paper, ensuring there is ample overhang for lifting the cake out – you don't want to lose any of the delicious nutty crumb by inverting the cake.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced).
3. With the paddle attachment in place, cream the butter and sugar in a cake mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Combine the flour, hazelnut meal and toasted caraway seeds in a small bowl, then use a rubber spatula to fold into the egg and butter mixture. Gradually add the Madeira and fold until completely incorporated.
4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin. Combine the demerara sugar and chopped hazelnuts in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the cake, pressing lightly so that it adheres to the batter. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes; it's cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
5. Allow the cake to rest in the tin for five minutes before gently lifting it out onto a cake rack or plate. Leftover slices may be gently warmed in the microwave.