Madeira Nut Cake

I think you will like this one Momsy :)

20130318-113952.jpg
I am reading The Pearls of Lutra, one of the books in the Redwall series, and, the exciting story aside, I love this book because it has descriptions of food that sound sooooo deliciousssss. If you have ever read one of those books, I’m sure you know what I mean.
So I was reading along, and Mr. Jacques starts to describe the most delicious cake that a few character, namely a hedgehog, hare, and barn owl, are making. It has fresh cream, honey, hazelnuts, chestnuts, beachnuts, dark beer, dried fruit, and is toped with marzipan, honey-soaked rose petals, and whipped cream. Mmmm.
Normally I don’t particularly like marzipan or dried fruit cakes, but this one sounded so delicious that I decided to recreate a modified version with the ingredients I have on hand. It turned out absolutely delightful! The crumb of the cake is firm but very light and fluffy, and the nuts and raisins are so scrumptious :) I had to bake it an extra ten minutes to get the center to cook, so it turned out a little drier than I would have liked, but I think adding beer to the recipe would fix that!
So make yourself a cup of tea, drizzle honey on a piece of this cake, put some fresh whipped cream on top, and your eatin’ Redwall style :)

I used the Madeira Cake recipe from The Forgotten Skills of Cooking, and added some chopped almonds, pecans, and raisins.
I cut the recipe by 2/3 when I made it because I am going to be eating it solo, but here is the full thing…

Ingredients
3/4 cup soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 organic eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups al-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbs milk or water
1 large cup roughly chopped almonds and pecans
2 tbs raisins

-Preheat oven to 350f. Butter and flour a 7″ wide by 3″ deep cake pan.
-Cream the butter and sugar together with your fingers (Darina Allen claims this is faster than using a spoon and makes the cake fluffier). Then, if you are unsatisfied with the extent of your creaming, as I was, whip it until it becomes lighter in color :)
-Whisk the eggs and vanilla together, and slowly add to the butter mixture, whipping in well as you go.
-Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and fold into wet mixture. Add a little milk or water if necessary to make the batter smooth, but not liquidy.
-Gently fold in the nuts and fruit. Put batter into prepared pan and bake 50-60 min, or until a skewer in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan before serving.

20130318-121238.jpg creaming the butter and sugar by hand. The heat of your hand should speed up the process.

20130318-121406.jpg I wasn’t sure if the hand-creaming was getting it fluffy enough, so I whipped it with a whisk until it turned lighter in color and I could see small holes when I spread it. My baker-friend told me that mixing the butter and sugar properly is the most important part of making a fluffy cake!

20130318-121800.jpg whip in the eggs and vanilla

20130318-121826.jpg fold in the nuts and raisins

20130318-122442.jpg mmmmm, smells so good…

20130318-122518.jpg and tastes so good too :)
-Celia

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