Friday, July 2, 2010

Madeira & Madeira Cake

I know when I talk Madeira, I usually speak about cooking with it, not drinking it. That probably won’t change anytime soon since I am no great expert but thanks to Mannie Berk at The Rare Wine Company (who invited me) and to the people at IVBAM (Madeira’s institute for wine and crafts), I got to taste 40, count ‘em, 40 madeiras at the snazzy Astor Center at Astor Wine in NYC.
Let me tell you -- for the uninitiated, wine tasting is not for sissies. I still can’t bring myself to spit (that’s what the ominous black bucket on the right is for) but even with small sips… after that many wines I was exhausted. Probably concentrating that closely played a part as well. It was all for a good cause…this is one great wine, I know I’ve told you this before.
I tasted young, old, dry and sweet with the differing personalities of the 7 houses that make the wine on the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Africa. The micro-climate and basaltic soil make for an ideal grape haven. There are many grapes used to make the different varieties of wine (Malvasia, Bual, Verdelho, Sercial & Tinta Negra being the best known) and these are planted strategically on the various parts of the island. Five centuries of experience have told them which location is best for which grape.
I got to speak with representatives of many of the 7 producers. I asked a representative from Henriques e Henriques about what they eat with Madeira and they said Bolo de Mel, a classic sweet cake that is much like gingerbread. It is made around Christmas and is meant to be eaten by hand (never to be cut with a knife). And they make a lot of it…enough to last all year long.
Since it is summer, I decided I would hold off on making this dark spicy recipe and instead make the English version of Madeira Cake that has been popular for a few hundred years.

Lighter and lemony, I found a spectacular recipe from Chef Michael Caines at the beautiful Gidleigh Park in Devon, England (a little more research for my England trip). He makes his mum’s recipe for the cake (that she found in an old Good Housekeeping book). It is a stunner, like a light pound cake soaked in madeira scented apricot and tangy lemon, oh my! Best of all I get to sneak a little Madeira into it (which is not traditional -- the English version, and Caines' version is wine-free) because of the beautiful apricot glaze that I found. Let me tell you it is great with the wine or with tea… a little Earl Gray, mmm. Heaven.
Lemon Madeira Cake based on Michael Caines’s Recipe
Serves 8
Zest and juice of a lemon
5 eggs *
350g caster sugar (1 ¾ C)
Pinch of salt
150ml double cream (5 oz)
275g plain flour (almost 2 c at 140g a cup)
5 g baking powder (1 t)
100g butter, melted (a little less than ½ c)
A little apricot glaze ****
100g icing sugar (7/8c)
A little extra butter and flour for the tin
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/gas3 (320º). Grease a cake tin with butter and dust with flour (the recipe called for a 12”x 4”x3.5” pan but I made 2, one smaller one in a 6" x 5" decorative mold and the other in a 5" x 9" loaf pan). Put the lemon zest, eggs, sugar and salt into a mixer and whizz at top speed for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens and turns a lovely pale yellow.
2 Fold in the cream. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture, then add the melted butter, again folding it in carefully.
3 Spoon into the cake tin and put into the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (the smaller mold was 45 minutes).
4 Turn out and cool on a rack, but leave the oven on. When cold, brush the cake all over with apricot jam.
5 To make the glaze, put the icing sugar and lemon juice in a pan on the stove until the sugar melts and the mixture turns syrupy, then brush this all over the top and sides of the cake and return it to the oven for 30seconds.
*the eggs from Grazin Angus Acres in Union Square make everything the best color...they are so yellow~
****Apricot Glaze
As for the glaze, it comes from a century-old recipe from La Cuisine Française. The author, François Tanty, was trained under Careme, the most famous 19th century French Chef. Tanty then served as Chef de Cuisine to Emperor Napoleon III and Chef to the Czar of Russia; he also was proprietor of the Grand Hotel and the Restaurant Dussaux at St. Petersburg, and Purveyor to the French and Russian Armies says the indispensable resource, Feeding America . How’s that for a CV! This world-class toast and jam is about as good as it gets. If you don’t have apricots at hand, just use 2 parts apricot jam to one part Madeira. You will be astounded how good this is for breakfast or tea or an incredibly quick dessert for last minute guests.

I did a guest blog for the generous and amazing Lazaro. Do stop by and have a look. If you have never seen his blog, Lazaro Cooks scan back and enjoy!!!

Thanks to Gollum for hosting another Foodie Friday

My next post will come from England!!! Thanks to all of you who clicked on the ads!!!


Diane said...

Great blog with lots of info. I can't spit either- what a waste:) I found it was some what daunting though doing the wine route in the Cape S.Africa. By the 6th or 7th vineyard.......

Sarah said...

If it is good wine, I can't spit least until I reach my limit! These cakes look wonderful. Have a fabulous trip! Looking forward to your reports.

Needful Things said...

Have a fabulous time in England!
Your cake looks lovely, I especially love that glaze. :)

Unknown said...

I can tell that that cake has a lovely texture. The apricot glaze looks like a fabulous accompaniment
Have a wonderful 4th of july weekend.
*kisses* HH
p.s. cant wait to see what you get up to in England!

Stella said...

Hey Deana, I don't like spitting at wine tastings either. I just don't get it! Why would I want to spit out something so wonderful that is going to make me feel good (smile). Plus, it just seems a bit odd to me in other ways I won't go into-maybe I'm a barbarian of sorts!
This cake sounds wonderful. Like a perfect tea cake. I do wonder about the spicy one that's 'hands only'. I love eating with my hands or with bread as a utensil. So a cake with a rule like that sounds extra wonderful to me...
Glad you had a nice time, Deana!

Linda said...

Beautiful post Deana!
Have a wonderful time in England!
I can not wait to see your posts from there!

Deana Sidney said...

Foodfun> Some of the girls there at the tasting were the most explosive spitters.. I am just a wus.. I think after forty I had drunk 3 glasses of madeira... that is a lot in 1 1/2 hours!
Sarah>SO true... spitting out great wine just seems wrong!
Grapefruit> thanks... that apricot sauce is just amazing... had some on toast yesterday!
HH>you were so kind to offer suggestions... after a lot of thought... I am going to leave it up to the wind... and stay south!!
Stella> the bolo de mel is very spicy.. really like a boozy gingerbread with some dried fruit, nuts and madeira or cognac. It is bad luck to cut it... must be torn!
Linda> I hope I can write some good stuff!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I adore madeira cake as it's so lovely and buttery! That jam sounds divine too. I'm so excitred for you about your England trip Deana! I know that you're just going to have a ball! :D

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

IS THIS CAKE AS LUSCIOUS AS IT LOOKS? Wow, I love a dense cake like that! Talk about wine tasting, I went to the Korbel champagne winery in Northern Ca. and it was a real treat. The Brut Rosé was my absolute favorite and this summer, I will be making my chicken civet with fresh thyme and white wine. I wonder what an inexpensive dry champagne would do to my chicken....THANKS FOR COMING BY!! Anita

Faith said...

That cake is gorgeous and the apricot glaze looks fantastic. It's so interesting how so many different factors (such as location) effect the grapes.

Gemma said...

Madeira cake is a classic and delicious cake.
Your cake is perfect, I like the photo of the cut because it have a yellow showy color.
Apricot glaze looks delicious!

Fresh Local and Best said...

How incredible this madeira tasting must have been! You've got to let me know the next time there is an event at the Astor place that you are attending. I would have loved to experienced this event.

The lemon madeira cake looks wonderfully refined and delicious!

Mary Bergfeld said...

I know you'll have a fabulous time in England. I can't wait to see the photos of food and faces you'll share with us. Your Madeira cake looks and sounds delicious. God speed....Mary

tasteofbeirut said...

I would love a cake that I can eat with my hands (at least officially since I do it anyhow!); this Madeira cake with the apricot glaze is just the type of cake I would want for my 4 Pm tea break!
Admire you for partaking in all that tasting and spitting; I could not do it; sounds like a real hard job.
By the way, wishing you a great vacation in the UK; got invited by my cousin but I think I will take a jaunt to Greece instead.

Deana Sidney said...

Lorraine>thanks so much... the idea of all those food historians in one place is just too great... I hope to learn a bundle!
Castles> I think wine tastings at the vineyards are the best... and this cake would be great with champagne!
Faith> they said that if a grape didn't work in one place they would try it in another just an acre away... and it would work. The micro climates are incredible there and the terroir... well food tastes like where it comes from if it is allowed to!
Gemma> I want to make the dark spicy version next time and see how it stacks up! I used leftover apricot sauce on the bread like jam and it was spectacular!
Fresh> I will!!! It would be fun to go together and talk over the tastes!
Mary> I hope to take many photos of the beautiful food and people there.. I can't wait!
Taste> I am not sure you eat the cake with your hands... all I know is that you tear pieces off to eat... Tasting madeira was the easiest job in the world. Not spitting just meant I got a lot more alcohol! OOOh, Greece sounds wonderful!

Becky said...

Sounds delicious -- I'm sure it will be equal to, or better, than any similar dishes you might sample in England! Have a great trip!

the country cook said...

Oh my goodness!!! We LOVE Madeira. We aren't totally avid wine drinkers, but we will splurge for Madeira. I will have to try this cake next time we buy some! -

Ken Albala said...

I'm with you, spitting is a crime. But I don't have a limit. The cake looks lovely, I half expected it to be brain-like inside too, but really lovely cakey yellowness.

BTW, have you ever met Doug Duda? He directs the Astor Center and will probably be at Oxford. Next week!

Deana Sidney said...

Becky> it's a good nummy cake!
country cook> you should try it. any cake soaked in madeira would be great... bet you could even make a storebought poundcake taste great with a good soak!
Ken> you stinker... it sort of reminded me of the Lancaster rose... not a brain!!! It was all cakey yellowness thanks to these amazing eggs Im using now. It is next week... whoa!!! Didn't meet Duda if he was time!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Your cake looks like a dream! Forty maderias!!??? You're my hero! Safe travels!

Tasty Trix said...

Ack! I was just at the farmers market and now i'm kicking myself for not getting apricots. poo. next time. the cake also looks incredible. congrats on surviving that tasting - my record is around 12 wines, and as I too could not bring myself to spit, I was drunk as a skunk .. they were generous pours!

Chef Dennis Littley said...

what an incredible presentation and so much information!!! you really make me feel there is so much more to say about food. You should have your own show on the food network, you would put so many of those shows to shame with your ability and wealth of information!
Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication!

FOODESSA said...

I had the opportunity of trying a piece of 'Bol de Mel' while in Lisbon a few years back. It is a very interesting tasting dessert, however, I was not an instant fan. My only regret is that I didn't make it to fly out to the Island of Madeira where I've been told is a fabulous Foodie destination.

I can appreciate the ingredients you used for your alternate cake choice. Will have to bookmark it for later reference.

I'm glad a foodie like yourself got to experience such a wonderful taste tasting event.

Flavourful wishes,

chow and chatter said...

sorry about the poor sound on the clip I adore madeira cake great post and love the history


citronetvanille said...

All your posts are beautiful, love the history behind each recipe! and this one is particularly tempting with the amazing apricot jam and Madeira.

Deana Sidney said...

TW>It was rather brave to down that much... all for research... and they really are good so it wasn't that painful!
TRIX> these were pretty generous pours... and 40 is a lot to taste and try to keep straight... I am not good enough for that. I walked about with impressions of the houses and a better sense of the grape varieties.
Dennis> from your lips to History CHannel's ears... that would be too much fun... thanks for the compliment. I would love to do that!
Foodessa> I was really lucky to go since it was an industry event with fancy journalists, restaurant and store owners and... me! The cake is
so good with the madeira... you should try it!
Chow> You have such a great voice... would like to hear it! glad you like the post!
Citron>that jam is really great... I can see it drizzled on so many things... like ice cream!

Barbara said...

You tasted 40 madeiras Deana?? And you were will still standing? Even with sips, that's a lot. Hmmm. Wish I could have been there. :)

The cake is lovely...and I adore the glaze and your great tip for mixing apricot jam with madeira! I can think of any number of ways to use that.

I am so looking forward to hearing about your trip! Have fun!

Ana Powell said...

Many thanks for your visit.
Awesome work, I loved your post full of information.
I still have some family living in Madeira and some people say that Madeira Island is one of Europe`s beautiful travel location, great climate and wonderful flora. My mum loves their beautiful gardens.
Delicious cake and your photos are really good.
well done.
I hope you enjoy England, I live in Reading, Berkshire.
Wishing you a great week ♥

pierre said...

hi there i never thought to use madeira in dessert but you give me a bunch of ideas !! thanks !! Have a good day !!!
cheers from Pierre in Paris

sweetlife said...

what a wonderful experience to taste test so many wonderful madeiras', gla you were invited, the cake looks superb and the glaze looks divine, i cannot wait to see your post from your exciting trip, have fun


redmenace said...

I've never had this before, but I simply adore anything with lemon and sugar mixed together. Thanks so much for sharing it and your experience as well!

2 Stews said...

I love wine tastings. It makes the taste so much clearer when tasting wine side by side. And spitting out wine? That is akin to waking a sleeping baby...just not right!!

The Madeira cake looks heavenly. Thanks for sharing.

I can't wait to hear all about the happenings on your trip. Safe travels.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Forty? I am so impressed. I don't like the spitting either, but I've never tried to taste forty different wines, either! The cake looks fabulous. I am so jealous of your trip to England- I've always wanted to go to do genealogy research. I hope you have a safe journey. Thanks for sharing :)

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

How fun! even though i'm not an avid wine drinker but with that madeira, i'm opted for it!
Have a good trip in England Deana!

PS: Bulgogi is a soy sauce marinated beef, just in case you're still wondering :D

Sorry for a late comment. I just got back from the vacay!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I am a sucker for after-dinner wines so I envy your Madeira tasting. The Madeira cake and sauce sounds fabulous!

Have a great time in England, you lucky lady!

Sook said...

Wow that cake looks so beautiful and delicious!