Cookbook:Madeira Honey Cake

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Madeira Honey Cake
Category Dessert recipes
Servings 8
Time prep: 40 minutes
rest: 3-4 days
baking: 50 minutes

̞ Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Portugal | Dessert | Cake

This is the recipe for the traditional Madeira Honey Cake, usually made on Christmas but also all year round on the island of Madeira and originally named in Portuguese bolo de mel. It is made with "mel de cana" which literally means "cane honey," otherwise known as molasses.

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

[note 1]
Baker's %
9 ounces bread dough from the baker's shop 250 10%
90 ounces flour 2500 100%
36 ounces sugar 1000 40%
27 ounces banha, this is pork fat 750 30%
18 ounces butter 500 20%
0.9 ounce erva-doce, this is anise herbs, mashed and sifted 25 1%
1.8 ounces canela (cinnamon) 50 2%
0.9 ounce cravinho da India, (cloves in powder form) 25 1%
18 ounces walnut, cut into halves 500 20%
9 ounces ground almonds 250 10%
1.8 ounces candied lemon peel, cut into cubes 50 2%
92.14 ounces (1.8 l) molasses 2559.49 102.38%
5 Tablespoons of baking soda, dissolved in the wine 69 2.76%
1 cup of Madeira wine 239.61 9.58%
Juice and zest of 4 oranges 392 15.68%
Formula 9160.1 366.4%

Procedure[edit | edit source]

  1. One day before making the cake, buy the bread-dough at the baker's shop, sprinkle a little bit of flour on the dough, put it in a towel and keep it in a warm place until the next day.
  2. Put the baking soda into the Madeira wine, dissolve. In a pan warm up the molasses, mix the butter and pork fat (if not available, just use butter), dissolve. Let this mixture cool.
  3. Sift flour into a bowl, mix in the sugar, make a well and put the bread dough into it. Now work the flour-sugar mixture into the bread dough. As soon as this is well joined, start to incorporate little by little the (tepid) molasses-fat mixture. Add some of the candied lemon peel, as well as the Madeira wine, orange juice and orange zest, anise, cinnamon, and cloves.
  4. Incorporate and knead thoroughly until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Cover the dough with a towel and put it in a warm spot. Keep it in a warm place for 3-4 days.
  5. Divide the dough into parts of 250g or 500g or 750 g, depending on the pans to put into the oven. This cake is made in wide, round pans which are rather low. Before going into the oven, the cake is decorated with half-walnuts, sliced almonds and the rest of the candied lemon peel.
  6. Grease the baking pans. Bake about 50 minutes 355 °F (180 °C). Let cool down before taking it out of the baking pan.

Notes, tips, and variations[edit | edit source]

  • In Madeira these honey cakes are made on 8 December, which is traditionally considered the day of Mary's Immaculate Conception, because tradition says this cake is only good for Christmas if it is made on this day.
  • It is a custom to make enough of this cake in order to have some during the whole year. Once cooled and thoroughly wrapped into vegetable paper it remains good until next Christmas without losing quality or taste.
  • Another tradition surrounding this cake is that it is not cut with knives, but by hand, and also eaten by hand, nothing more than a tradition but very respected among Madeira locals.
  • Fennel is often used instead of anise. Raisins are sometimes added.

Conversion Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Weight conversions from USDA National Nutrient Database. Original ingredient order preserved. Where they were provided, used metric measures for conversion. Separate gram and ounce weights are not equivalent, but are within about 2% difference. When making a batch, more accurate measure will be found by using one or the other, but not mixing them. "Ounces" are understood as measures of mass or weight, there are no volumetric "fluid ounces" currently used in this formula. Madeira wine type not specified, weight calculated from average bulk density figures provided by for type Meio Seco.

External Links[edit | edit source]