Madeira cake with passion fruit icing

Looking down on a cake topped with passion fruit icing, a cup of tea and a bunch of dried hydrangeas.

The grey clouds rolled in this weekend past bringing with them rain, fog and thunder –  rather apt given the southern hemisphere saw in the winter solstice on Saturday night.  As it often does when the weather is moody, I got a craving to bake. Whilst something dark and decadent would’ve probably suited the conditions best, I felt the need for something bright and light.  So with a little inspiration from my fruit bowl, I whipped up an easy loaf cake, which filled the house with the heady scent of summer…

I’ve had a love affair with lemons for a long time. They’re such a handy ingredient to have in your kitchen – you can spritz them over a salad, let slices of them infuse your tea and don’t get me started on that wonderful mix of sweet/sour that lemon flavoured desserts capture. Our backyard lemon tree has produced some beautiful fruit this year, so a classic Madeira cake felt like a perfect way to utilise part of our crop. Nigella Lawson’s cakes almost never fail for me, so I utilised her recipe and in my opinion, it’s a winner.  It’s a cake that’s traditionally served sans icing, but I felt the need for something a little extra with this bake.

In our fruit bowl, nestled beside the lemon was a particularly wrinkly looking passion fruit. My grandmother’s passion fruit icing (normally slathered atop patty cakes) immediately sprang to mind and with that I got baking.

What you’ll need


  • 240 grams of softened unsalted butter
  • 200 grams of caster sugar
  • grated zest and juice of a large, unwaxed lemon
  • three large eggs
  • 210 grams of self-raising flour
  • 90 grams of plain flour


  • one cup of icing sugar
  • teaspoon of butter
  • the pulp and juice of one full passion fruit

A Madeira cake ready to go in the oven.

Passion fruit icing in a Tupperware bowl.

How to do it

  1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 170ºc and grease and line a 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin.
  2. Using handheld beaters or a mixer of a stand cream together the butter sugar, then add the zest.
  3. Add in the eggs one at time, along with a spoonful of flour.
  4. Once combined add the remainder of the flour and lemon juice.  Your batter should be lusciously thick and fragrant.
  5. Pour your cake mixture into your loaf tin and cook for about an hour – the cake should be golden and cracked on top, and an inserted skewer should come away clean.
  6. Turn slightly cool, turn cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  7. To ice – add icing sugar and butter into a small bowl.  Gradually spoon in passion fruit pulp, mixing well until combined.  You’re aiming for quite a stiff, thick icing that’ll spread easily and not drip.
  8. Allow icing to set and then serve.

A slice of Madeira cake, alongside a cup of tea and bunch of dried hydrangeas.

I love the firm, yet light texture of a Madeira cake – it’s a little more satisfying than a sponge – and the passion fruit icing works nicely with the lemon scented cake.  This cake is a little slice of sunshine on a dark winter’s day, and if you can handle a little more citrus, it pairs beautifully with a bergamot flavoured tea like Early Grey. (I can drink countless cups of this one).

Have a wonderful week.

M. x


5 thoughts on “Madeira cake with passion fruit icing

  1. You’ve done your Grandmother proud with that icing! Looks a delicious cake indeed to savour at any time of the day with a lovely cup of tea,

    Liked by 1 person

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