Two Nations Divided …

I am becoming accustomed to walking on the sidewalk while going back to the apartment.  I regularly give out my cell number, and I am confidently buying shrimp, zucchini, eggplant, cilantro and branzini and putting them into my shopping cart.  I am learning lots of new names, for example, for all the myriad bread rolls that are produced over here – kaiser rolls, subs, hoagies, dinner rolls, smiley rolls – these merely scratch the surface of my new found knowledge.  I am hugely amused that my own initials, CFM, are an abbreviation of the nickname for very high heels, commonly known as Come F**k Me shoes.  I now know that ‘I could care less’ means ‘I couldn’t care less’ – don’t understand why because it seems to say the opposite, but hey who am I to argue.  What confuses me is when we use the same word for something totally different.  When I describe someone as ‘pissed’, I now rush to clarify that I mean drunk, and not angry.  I distinguish between vests and waistcoats, tank tops and vests and I don’t know what Americans call the sleeveless knitted tops that we call tank tops!  Not so long ago though, I was offered some cake.  I asked what kind it was, and was told coffee.  Oh dear, said I, I don’t like coffee.  Giggles all round as it was explained to me that a coffee cake is eaten with coffee, it isn’t flavoured with coffee.  In my slightly embarrassed state I never asked what you call a coffee-flavoured cake.

Anyway, today I thought I’d give you the recipe for a very ordinary cake which could (some may say should) be eaten with coffee.   It is Madeira Cake, a plain cake which I love because of its lightness and the hint of lemon.  Confusingly this is a type of pound cake in the States, and pound cake got its name from the recipe – a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs …..  The resulting cake is generally too large nowadays so amounts were scaled down, but retaining the general idea of equal quantities.  The UK version got its name because it was traditionally served with Madeira wine which I have to say sounds a whole heap better than having it with coffee.

Madeira Cake – Ingredients

  • 175 g / 6 oz softened butter
  • 175 g / 6 oz caster sugar
  • Finely grated rind of 1 medium-sized lemon
  • 3 standard eggs
  • 225 g / 8 oz plain flour, sifted (so much for the equal quantities)
  • 2 tbspns milk
  • 1.5 level teaspoons baking powder (not baking soda – they’re different)


Cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind until light and fluffy.  This will take about 3-4 mins if you’re using a mixer.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add one spoonful of flour with each one.

Beat in the milk with a spoonful of flour, then gently fold in the remaining flour with a metal spoon.

I like madeira cake to be loaf-shaped, but I find that even with the best prepared tin it can be difficult to get it out cleanly.  So grease and line a loaf tin, and put the mixture in.  Smooth the top with a knife.

Bake at 160 C / 325 F / Gas 3 for 1.5 to 1.75 hours.  Leave in the tin to cool for 5 mins before turning onto wire cooling rack.

A true Madeira cake will have a crack running along the top – don’t worry!

And just to show that we are enjoying Spring on this side of the Atlantic, here are some photos of the bulbs in Madison Park.





And a final one which shows that we will have tulips to enjoy for a wee while yet



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