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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Recipe: Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake

Slices of Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake

Recipe: Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake



On Your Marks... Get Set... Bake!

Anyone with even a passing interest in baking should be more than familiar with The Great British Bake Off. If not, stop reading and go have a watch. As of this post, there have been six seasons (or series, and the Brits so delightfully call them), so it should only take a week or so to catch up if you're willing to commit to some intense binge watching. 

Bring snacks. You'll get hungry.

For anyone who has endured the onslaught of overly-produced, "reality" cooking competitions manufactured in the U.S., this show's decidedly British sensibility is extremely refreshing. When judged, an unsuccessful dish is met with a look of concern... at worst, disappointment. Bombastic tirades have no place under the show's signature country-side tent, where the pastry proceedings transpire.

As endearing as the judges, commentators and competitors may be, what makes the show infinitely watchable is its unflagging commitment to the established pastry canon. Bakers are called upon to produce well-known classics and custom bakes of their own creation, where proper technique is critical. There are no relay races. There are no pyrotechnics. There's just Cake... and Tarts, Pies, Breads, Custards, Biscuits...

Using the show as a source of inspiration, I thought it would be fun to develop a series of recipes based on some of the treats that have been baked on the show. 

This season commenced with Cakes - the very first challenge being a Madeira Cake. Not well known in the U.S., a Madeira Cake is a 300-year-old creation so named not for the Madeira Islands (a common misconception) but rather for the Madeira wine with which it was/is commonly served. It's a simple Cake, most similar to what we know in the States as a Pound Cake.

But unlike a Pound Cake, which is made from equal parts Flour, Sugar, Butter and Eggs, a Madeira Cake skews heavier on the Flour, making for a slightly less rich and less sweet product with a denser crumb. British baking guru and Bake Off judge, Mary Berry, has some strong views on other defining characteristic (e.g. a light flavor, a cracked top and glass-like Candied Lemon Peel garnish). These are to be debated. But this recipe, served trenched in a Lemon Glaze, would certainly receive high marks from any judge!

Half of a Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake
What, exactly, is a Madeira Cake? 

A Madeira Cake is a lightly sweet, dense-crumbed, chemically leavened loaf typically served with Tea, or as the name hints, Madeira Wine. In the U.S., it would be considered a Pound Cake, although recipes skew heavier on the Flour resulting in a slightly denser final product.

Broadly speaking, a Madeira Cake is a Sponge Cake, mixed according to the creamed or batter-method, just like a Pound Cake. 

To begin, beat Butter and Sugar together until they are light and airy. Then add Eggs one at a time, emulsifying the Butter and Sugar mixture into an even fluffier batter. Lastly, add the dry ingredients, including Flour and Baking Powder, stirring gently so as not to over-mix the Madeira Cake Batter and develop too much gluten.

The process of beating air into the mixture is critical. The trapped air expands in the heat of the oven and helps leaven the Madeira Cake. For this reason, it is important to immediately bake the Madeira Cake before too much air escapes.

Fresh Lemon and Poppy Seeds
Aside from a generally consistent ratio of Butter, Sugar, Flour and Eggs across most recipes, a Madeira Cake is often flavored with Lemon and may even feature Candied Lemon Peel garnish. Lemon Zest can be added to the mixture after the Butter and Sugar have been creamed and the Eggs have been added. This is also the best time to add other flavors, such as Vanilla or Almond Extract. I took it one step further and also added Poppy Seeds.

In terms of other defining features of a Madeira Cake, Mary Berry went to great lengths to stress that a true Madeira Cake should be baked so as to have a cracked top.

... but not everyone agrees.

A cracked top is usually a sign of a poorly executed cake. It could mean that the oven was too hot causing the exterior to set too early, forcing the insides to burst through... or too much leavening was added... or the Batter was over-hydrated.

Bowl of Minced Almonds
One final variation that is common across recipes is using a small amount of minced Nuts or Nut Flour. Adding Nuts is an easy way to add flavor, texture and richness to the basic ingredients of Butter, Sugar, Eggs and Flour. Up to 25% of the Flour weight can be replaced without compromising the structure. If you were to replace too much of the gluten-forming Wheat Flour, the Madeira Cake would likely be overly crumbly, unable to hold together.

Madeira Cake Batter in a Loaf Pan
As soon as the Madeira Cake Batter is mixed, pour it into a non-stick sprayed or Butter coated loaf pan, and place it in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). The longer you wait to start baking the Madeira Cake, the more air that will escape. The more air that escapes, the worse the rise.

Baked Madeira Cake in a Loaf Pan
Bake the Madeira Cake until it is browned on top, begins to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan and a tester removes clean from the center - approximately 40 minutes. Allow the Madeira Cake to cool in the loaf pan for approximately 15 minutes before removing it from the pan and transferring it to a wire cooling rack.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake
Although serving the Madeira Cake unadorned or with Candied Lemon Peel is traditional, I'm a sucker for a sugary glaze. So while the Madeira Cake is cooling, prepare the Lemon Glaze. 

Place Powdered Sugar in a large mixing bowl with a very small amount of Lemon Juice - start with about one tablespoon of Lemon Juice for every cup of Powdered Sugar. Gently stir the Lemon Glaze until it is smooth. The Lemon Glaze should be very thick at this point. Thin the Lemon Glaze by adding more Lemon Juice until it is a just pourable consistency.

Add just a little bit of Lemon Juice at a time, testing the consistency of the Lemon Glaze as you go. The Lemon Glaze will quickly become too thin with a surprisingly small amount of Lemon Juice.

Slices of Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake
The Madiera Cake is best served the day it is prepared, and it is perfect when served with Tea or Coffee. The Madeira Cake will keep well for 2-3 days when store in an airtight container at room temperature. The unglazed Madeira Cake can be frozen for up to a month.





- The Recipe -




Glazed Lemon Poppy Madeira Cake:


Yield800g (One 9" Loaf)

Madeira Cake Ingredients:
  • Butter: 170g (0.75 Cup / 1.5 Sticks)
  • Sugar: 175g (7/8 Cup)
  • Eggs: 150g (3x)
  • Vanilla Extract: 5g (1 Tsp)
  • Almond Extract: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Lemon, zest: 4x
  • Flour: 210g (1.75 Cups)
  • Almonds, minced: 45g (~0.25 Cup)
  • Poppy Seeds: 15g (2 Tbls)
  • Baking Powder: 9g (2 Tsp)
  • Salt: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Lemon, juice: 45g (3 Tbls)


Lemon Glaze Ingredients:
  • Powdered Sugar: 240g (2 Cups)
  • Lemon, juice: 60g (0.25 Cup)


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Prepare a 9" loaf pan with non-stick spray or Butter.

2. Place the Butter and Sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the Butter and Sugar, beating the mixture smooth on medium speed until it is light and airy. Scrape down the bowl at least once while mixing.

Chef's Note: Creaming the Butter and Sugar traps air in the mixture, which helps the cake leaven when pockets of air expand in the heat of the oven.

3. With the mixer on medium speed, add the Eggs one at a time. Continue to beat the mixture, waiting until it is again light and airy before adding the next Egg. When all of the Eggs are fully incorporated into the mixture, add the Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract and Lemon Zest, and mix until they are fully incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the Flour, minced Almonds, Poppy Seeds, Baking Powder and Salt. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and continue mixing until mostly combined. While continuing to mix on low speed, add the Lemon Juice followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Continue mixing on low speed until all of the Madeira Cake Batter ingredients are just combined.

Chef's Note: Do not over-mix the Madeira Cake Batter. Once the Flour has been added to the wet ingredients, gluten will begin to develop. Over-mixing will result in an overly dense and tough texture.

5. Pour the Madeira Cake Batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the Madeira Cake for approximately 40 minutes or until the Madeira Cake is browned on top, begins to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan, and a tester removes clean from the center. Allow the Madeira Cake to cool in the loaf pan for approximately 15 minutes before removing it from the pan and transferring it to a wire cooling rack.

6. While the Madeira Cake is cooling, prepare the Lemon Glaze. Place the Powdered Sugar in a large mixing bowl with half of the Lemon Juice. Gently stir the Lemon Glaze until it is smooth and without any lumps of Powdered Sugar. The Lemon Glaze will be thick at this point. Thin the Lemon Glaze with more of the Lemon Juice until it is a just pourable consistency.

Chef's Note: Add the Lemon Juice slowly, testing the consistency of the Lemon Glaze as you go. The Lemon Glaze will quickly become too thin with a surprisingly small amount of Lemon Juice.

Storage:
The Madeira Cake is best served the day it is prepared, but it will keep well for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
- The unglazed Madeira Cake can be frozen for up to a month.



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