A simple and delicious lemon madeira cake recipe made in mini form. 

These make the perfect treat with a cup of tea. 

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon icing
Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

I think we must have had madeira cake at parties or afternoon teas when I was younger because just hearing the name ‘lemon madeira loaf cake’ I am instantly little again. 

I can taste it. Slightly dense, it was usually a little chilled. 

Never too sweet. The perfect balance of sweetness with a little sourness from the lemon.

I love the idea of mini cakes because then you get a good ratio of delicious crunchy edge pieces to soft middle.

Add a little zest to your afternoon tea or wrap them up individually to make little party favours. 

Or of course you can always gobble them up all by your self, although I’m not advising binge eating.

What is madeira cake

Classic madeira cake is like a denser version of a sponge cake. 

We’d liken the texture as half way between sponge cake and pound cake. 

Because of its texture, it’s often a popular choice for wedding cakes or when you’re making a cake that needs to be shaped or hold heavy icing.  

It’s quite a plain cake too making it a good one to please a crowd. 

It gets the name ‘Madeira’ because the traditional version was served with a glass of madeira wine. 

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

What do you need to make lemon madeira cake

To make these little classic madeira cakes you will need: 


  • Butter – softened. Here we just leave it to come to room temperature. 
  • Caster sugar – also called superfine sugar
  • Vanilla extract – here’s how to make your own (it’s so easy!)
  • Eggs – preferably free range and left to come to room temperature
  • Lemon – you’ll need the zest and juice (either grate it or peel the rind & chop in a food processor)
  • Plain flour – also called all purpose flour or cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Milk – full cream milk or whole milk.


  • Icing sugar – also called powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar. Here’s how to make your own icing sugar. 
  • Lemon juice – freshly squeezed

The ingredients

How to make lemon madeira cake

To make this simple lemon cake recipe you’ll need an electric or hand mixer (or some very strong arms).

It’s always a good idea to measure out all your ingredients before you start baking. 

That way you know you’ve got everything and it’s really obvious if you forget to add something to the recipe.

No more putting it in the oven and realising you left out an egg.

Butter and sugar

Surprise surprise, in the first step you cream butter. 

Start by beating the butter and sugar together in the large bowl of an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy.

Adding egg

Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and then beat in the egg into the butter mixture.

Adding a bit of zest

Zest it up a bit and stir through the fresh lemon zest (also called grated lemon rind).


Then add the flour and baking powder and mix them through too.

Milking it

The last step is to fold in the milk until you have a smooth batter. 

I took the bowl off the stand mixer and used a spatular but you could use a wooden spoon.

It’s quite a thick cake batter so don’t worry if it seems a bit dry. 

Ready for baking

Divide it between the holes in your prepared tin (you’ll need to line each one with greaseproof paper). 

The batter should fill the hole about 2/3 of the way. 

You could also make these in a muffin tin just make sure you grease the holes well. 

Bake the little loaves for 30-35 minutes (or until golden brown) at 170C fan-forced. 

To test if they’re done, stick a cake tester in the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s ready.

I had a little bit of batter left over after I’d filled all the holes so I made a couple of cupcakes as well. 

They take about 20 minutes to cook.


Don’t they look adorable in their little loaf forms?

Leave them in the tin to rest for a few minutes.


Pop them all out of the tin and onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Use a butter knife to run around the sides and make sure they don’t stick to the tins. 


To make the runny icing/drizzle, mix up the lemon juice and icing sugar. 

You want it to be thick but be just thin enough to dribble (I had to coax mine). 

If you make it too thin it will slide right off and you’ll be left with no icing on top. 

Don’t ice the cakes until they’re nice and cool.

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

You can sprinkle a little lemon zest on top of the cake to make it extra pretty.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. 

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle

Although perfect as is, I think a little zap in the microwave made these little cakes truly delicious. Enjoy!

What about you? What do you think the pelicans would like?

Can you make this recipe in a single large loaf tin

Absolutely. Prepare the tin (grease and line it) and bake at the same temperature. 

It will need about 40-45 minutes (possibly longer) so be sure to test it with a cake tester. 

It’s ready to come out of the oven when you poke the center of the cake with the cake tester and it comes out clean. 

You could use whatever cake pans you have as long as they are greased and lined with parchment paper. You’ll just need to monitor the cooking time. 

Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon icing
Mini Madeira loaf cakes with lemon drizzle


Madiera loaf cakes with lemon icing

Madiera loaf cakes with lemon icing


  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • zest and juice of one small lemon
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • juice of one small lemon


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C fan-forced and grease and line a mini loaf tin.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
  3. Add the vanilla and then beat in the eggs one at a time. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters.
  4. Add the lemon zest then beat in the flour and baking powder.
  5. Finally add the milk and mix until the batter is smooth.
  6. Divide the batter between the holes in the mini loaf tin.
  7. Don't fill them any more than 2/3 of the way. If you have any leftover batter, use it to make cupcakes (they take about 20-25 mins to bake).
  8. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Leave them to sit in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile make the icing.
  11. Mix the lemon juice into the icing sugar until it reaches drizzle consistency. If it's too thick, add a little water.
  12. Drizzle the cooled cakes with icing and leave it to set for about 10 minutes.


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