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This Gluten-Free Madeira Cake is made with rice flour for an incredibly tender crumb. Spiked with vanilla and lemon this simple buttery loaf cake is made with easy to find ingredients and no weird gums. It’s the perfect slice to accompany your mid-morning cup of tea.
What is Madeira Cake?
The Madeira Cake is a classic British cake, bearing similarities to the pound cake or a classic vanilla sponge cake. However, it is discernable for its tight crumb and signature crack in the surface of the cake.
Madeira Cake has a firmer texture than a Victoria Sponge Cake, due to its higher proportion of flour to fat, so holds up well to slicing.
This beautifully buttery cake is made with a little almond flour, alongside the rice flour to help with the texture and a little bit of flavour. A touch of lemon and a dash of vanilla all contribute to the Madeira Cake’s recognisable flavour.
Why is it called Madeira Cake?
In the 1800s when the cake first became popular it was traditionally enjoyed with a rich glass of Madeira wine. Confusingly it does not hail from Madeira – it’s a British cake through and through - nor does it have any Madeira wine in the recipe.
Why you’ll love this simple rice flour cake
- It’s so flavourful. You will be able to taste intense vanilla, rich butter and a spark of lemon in every bite.
- This cake is super moist and delicious. The perfect sponge texture. There is no difference between this rice flour cake and a regular gluten Madeira Cake.
- Made with easy-to-find ingredients. Rice flour and ground almonds can be found in almost any major supermarket in the gluten-free aisle and baking aisle.
- No xanthan gum! Because of the high proportion of ground almonds in the bake they provide enough structure so xanthan gum isn’t required.
- Simple to make and quick to mix together.
Watch the video to see how to make it
What gluten-free flour do you use to make a Madeira Cake?
White rice flour makes the most delicate tasting light and fluffy gluten-free cake. Brown rice flour is not the right choice for this particular cake. White rice flour is neutral in taste, economical and easy to purchase.
Also not to be confused with sweet rice flour – this is not the right flour here.
READ MORE >>> The Ultimate Guide to Rice Flour
Rice flour substitution
You can substitute for an all-purpose gluten-free flour like Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour.
To help with the structure of the cake we use ground almonds. This ingredient is present in a regular Madeira Cake recipe but here we up the quantity to assist the rice flour cake, which can be a little dry and crumbly by itself.
Ground almonds are essential here in achieving a lovely moist gluten-free cake. Try not to use almond meal though as the texture would be too nubbly.
READ MORE >>> The Ultimate Guide to Nut Flours
Ground Almonds Substitution
You can swap out the ground almonds for sunflower seed flour if you are nut-free. It doesn’t have quite the same neutral taste but has exactly the same texture and a delicious unique flavour
What other ingredients do we need?
- Unsalted butter. Make sure it is at room temperature for easy creaming with the sugar.
- Caster sugar. This is a fine baking sugar common in the UK. Any white sugar can be substituted.
- Eggs. Use free-range, medium sized.
- Lemon zest. Use an unwaxed lemon for a clean flavour. You can substitute the lemon zest for ½ teaspoon lemon powder.
- Vanilla extract. Use the best extract you can find. I like Nielsen Massey
- Milk. Just a splash to hydrate the cake mixture.
- Baking powder. Gives our cake lift.
- Salt. For balance of flavour.
How to make a gluten-free Madeira Cake
- Cream. Beat the butter and sugar with the lemon zest until light and creamy.
- Mix. Add in the eggs followed by the vanilla.
- Sift. Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt by sifting together. Then add to the rest of the cake mixture and beat until well combined.
- Bake. 50 minutes in the oven.
- Sprinkle. Whilst the cake is still warm sprinkle over a little caster sugar for added crunch.
Baking tips for a successful Rice Flour Madeira Cake
Creaming. Beat the butter and sugar together for at least 5 minutes so that the sugar dissolves into the butter. The ingredients will change colour to a pale yellow and become fluffy in texture. It is essential the butter is at room temperature to achieve this which will result in a light airy cake.
Sifting. It’s important to sift the ground almonds in with the rice flour as the almonds have a tendency to clump.
Caster sugar. The final sprinkle of caster sugar is essential for a lovely texture contrast. Sprinkle over whilst the cake is still warm so it doesn’t immediately fall off the sides.
How to store
Store the Madeira Cake in an airtight tin in a cool dark place for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze whole or in slices. Wrap up well though in a double layer of cling film and aluminium foil to ward off any freezer burn.
Defrost completely overnight before wrapping and serving.
What to serve with it
It’s traditional to serve Madeira Cake with a glass of madeira wine. Although as that can sometimes seem a bit much at 10am, a cup of tea is just as delicious. The cake itself needs no further embellishment.
I urge you to give this Rice Flour Madeira Cake a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.
Rice Flour Madeira Cake
- 175 g unsalted butter - at room temperature
- 175 g caster sugar
- 1 lemon - zest only
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs - medium
- 125 g white rice flour
- 100 g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan assisted oven / gas mark 4 and line and grease a 2lb loaf tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar with the lemon zest on a high speed in a food mixer for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
- Sieve the rice flour with the ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a separate mixing bowl, then add into the food mixer. Beat until well combined.
- Stir in the milk to lighten the batter then pour into the loaf tin.
- Bake for 50 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in its tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack and sprinkle with the extra caster sugar.
- Leave to cool completely before serving.