The Best Madeira Birthday Cake Recipe

If you're new to baking and cake decorating you may not know that it matters what kind of cake you make to decorate on. What you'll need for this is a Madeira cake, it is a firmer cake, but still, light and soft to eat. 

Most people have grown up with the childhood classic that is, the victoria sponge. Although this is perfect for filling with jam and fresh cream for a bit of afternoon tea, it is not a strong enough base for decorating on

The recipe below is for a tall 6" round cake, I used two 6" x 2" deep PME tins. It is also the perfect amount to make 12 cupcakes.

Madeira cake is perfect for carving too. If this is something you intend to do then freeze the cake for 20 minutes before you plan on carving to prevent as many crumbs. That is if you have enough room in your freezer!


  • Make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature as this will give you the best bake!
  • This recipe would also work with one 7" x 3" deep PME tin, you'd just put all the mix into the one tin and bake it for 1 hour & 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean & the cake is golden brown & springs back to the touch, (check after 1 hour).
  • If the cake is not fully cooked when you cut into it, it required longer in the oven. If you have any doubt, give it 10 minutes longer, as the temperature is low the cake will not dry out but ensure it is fully baked.

If you require a different sized cake then take a look at some recipe converters on with a quick google. We'd recommend this one from CakeBaker.


  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 4 Medium Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 140c (fan assisted oven). Grease & line two 6" x 2" Deep Baking Tins.
  2. Place the caster sugar and butter in a mixing bowl & cream together until pale & creamy.
  3. Add the eggs a 1/4 at a time, don't add the next until the previous is fully incorporated. Add vanilla.
  4. Fold in the flour, being careful not to take too much air out of the mix.
  5. Divide the mixture equally between your cake tins.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean, the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch. (check after 45 minutes)
  7. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper & leave to cool upside down to cool, this will give your cake a nice flat top!
  9. once cooled, wrap in cling film & leave overnight to 'rest'.

You can freeze this cake and it will keep well for 3 months. Once this cake is iced it will last 10 days.

Take a look at our Quick & Easy Buttercream Recipe here.

Or if you didn't want to make your own frosting we have some ready-made that you could choose from:

Chocolate Madeira: Replace the plain flour from the recipe above with cocoa powder & add 100g of melted dark chocolate. 

Lemon Madeira: Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon to the above recipe. alternatively, you could add 2 tsp of Lemon Extract.