Subtle and delicate, perfect in the late afternoon served sliced with cherry preserve and creme fraiche on the side, and small glasses of madeira to wash it down. It's worth taking a bit of time to get this cake right. The old technique I've used for this madeira cake is called the "flour batter" method, and gives a finer crumb. You can try it on your favourite butter cake recipes too, and see what you think.
100g flaked almonds
125g unsalted butter, softened
150g castor sugar
25ml madeira, marsala or sweet sherry
75g creme fraiche or thick sour cream
200g plain flour
3 eggs, 60g each
1 tsp baking powder
flaked almonds and demerara sugar to finish
1. Line a long deep loaf tin with non-stick paper, and heat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).
2. Spread the flaked almonds on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes until golden, then leave to cool.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the madeira, creme fraiche and roughly half the flour (measure it into another bowl then save the rest for later). Beat everything together for a few minutes with an electric mixer until light in colour and very smooth.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then mix the remaining flour with the baking powder and fold through the egg mixture. Fold in the almonds, then spoon the mixture into the tin. Sprinkle the top heavily with flaked almonds and demerara sugar then bake for about 60 to 70 minutes or until a skewer poked in comes out clean.