Brown Sugar Madeira Cake with Poached Cherries & Meeting Rachel Allen!

Do you believe in coincidences? I sure do. I think sometimes the stars align and timing is just right. It was fortunate timing to be invited to meet Rachel Allen, fortunate timing to discover that I have a hankering for cake and about 2 pounds of fresh cherries in the refrigerator. It was also about time because besides work, I hadn’t been baking for fun. So all in all, the timing was perfect.



A few weeks ago I got a call to attend a private meet and greet with Rachel Allen and a bunch of other food bloggers. Thanks to the tireless, dedicated work of Sameer, about 15 food bloggers met Rachel Allen, clicked some pictures, drank some tea, ate cake and asked the questions we always wanted to know the answer to. She loves to make a simple chicken roast, by the way. I know you were wondering.

This brown sugar cake is a direct lift from her book. I have to say, brown sugar and I didn’t immediately get along. The thought of making a cake purely from brown sugar would have been inconceivable a few months ago. Somehow, over tweaking ratios for cookies, I began to love the familial scent and the incomparable fudge-ness. Look forward to it, even. I was on the hunt for making something entirely new yet oddly familiar. And after watching ‘Chef‘ and meeting Rachel Allen the next day, a classic cake recipe was just what I needed. This brown sugar tea cake pairs perfectly well with poached cherry jam, rainy weather and tea. A book is not totally necessary but highly recommended.

Brown Sugar Madeira Cake with Poached Cherry Jam

Yields: One 9″ cake and about 200g cherry jam

Source: Cake adapted from Rachel Allen: Cake, Jam is a Vanilla Bean Original

For the cake:

NB: No cup measurements are provided for this recipe therefore all measurements below are in grams and you will need a digital scale. For further information, consult the FAQ page under ‘Specifics: Baking Equipment’. 

175g butter, softened

175g brown sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

270g flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C and line a cake tin (or loaf tin) with parchment. Place on top of cookie tray lined with a silicon mat.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add butter and sugar and beat well on medium speed for about 3 minutes till the mixture is the color of dark caramel.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs slightly and add to the butter with the mixer still running. Add vanilla bean paste and turn off the machine.

4. With the help of a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder. The batter will be very thick. Pour into cake tin and spread with the help of an offset spatula. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake tests done. Let it cool completely before using.

For the jam:

450g cherries, pitted and de-stemmed, rinsed thoroughly

100g sugar

4 tbs apple juice

2 tsp cornstarch

1. In a medium saucepan, add cherries, sugar and apple juice. Let it slowly cook on low flame for about 20 minutes till the mixture is bubbling and the sugar has completely dissolved. Sprinkle cornstarch to thicken the juices and let it continue to cook on low flame till slightly thickened. Turn off the flame and let it cool completely before using. You can make this unto 2 days in advance, storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



P.S – an extra special thank you to Sameer of FBAI for giving me the opportunity to meet one of my idols. I owe you big time! Check out this sneaky picture I took.


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