The older I unfortunately get the plainer I like my cake. When I was young I can remember the absolute wonder of a Knickerbocker Glory or the plaintive and desperate desire for as many toppings as humanly possible on my bowl of ice-cream. But those days are long gone. Perhaps it is a sign of an aging stomach lining unable to cope with the complex digestion required or perhaps it is the inner wisdom of age, an analogy for life. Whatever the reason, I find that often it is a Madeira Cake that occupies my thoughts where once it was a Butterscotch Pecan Cheesecake or Maple and Walnut Layer Cake with enough frosting to swim in or at least get up your nose. I fantasize about this plain jane cake warm with double cream and a big spoonful of cinnamon stewed fruit. I fantasize about a large, fat slice of it with coffee for breakfast. In both of these fantasy scenarios I am alone and naked….completely joking about the naked bit, it would put me or anyone else right off ( most foolhardy anyway with all that stewed fruit about). But I am deadly serious about the fantasizing. Give me a pair of big, comfortable pants, fluffy socks and a silent house and this is where boundless pleasure lies nowadays. A stolen moment of simple deliciousness and indulgence that I must pay for in carrot sticks and no carbs. Finding solace in silence, stewed fruit and plain cake both leaves me feeling ancient as well as deeply satisfied. It may also suggest that already I am beginning to have a problem with my teeth. Perhaps I should just embrace it all…….”Pass me the tinned potatoes Margaret…….oh and that nice bit of cake”…….
This recipe for Madeira Cake is most suitably simple. I don’t even sieve the flour and definitely no folding in. I avoid both if at all possible and it is here. The compote too is a one pot delight and the flavour combination of these two fruits is as good as any duo out there. I regularly make it into a crumble for an incredible pudding. There is a lot of fruit here and would serve 6 easily as a crumble but it keeps so incredibly well that it will last all week too, sat in the fridge, shouting out for a heat through and a dollop of creme fraiche. Oh yes.