How can I help?

I am often asked questions about my cakes and recipes so I thought I would set up a ‘Frequently asked Questions’ page to help you guys out. If you don’t see the answer that you’re looking for please just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

1. How do I cover a cake with sugar paste and how do I get the sugar paste smooth?

It’s all about the tricks of the trade and practice, practive, practice. The more you play around with sugarpaste the more you know how it should feel. Check out this post for more details.

2. What’s a crumb coating?

A crumb coating is a layer of buttercream which you add to a cake, chill till it’s firm then add a second layer all the while making the edges neat (and more importantly hide any imperfections!) You can see how to do that in this post.

3. How long can I store a cake before eating it?

Once a cake is completely cold you can store it in an airtight wrapping for one week or freeze it for three months. For more details have a look at this post

4. How do you freeze a Madeira cake?

It’s fine and dandy to freeze a cake. Check out how I do it here

5. What ingredients do I need for a 7″/8″/9″/10″ Madeira cake?

One of the most common questions I get here on the cakesbakesandcookies.com Madiera cake post is “What amount of ingredients do I need for a rectangular cake tin/ mini cake tin/ sphere tin/ giant cupcake tin… you name it I’ve been asked it. Have a look at this post which explains how I work it out. Be warned! There’s maths involved!

and ……..just in case you wanted a small size here’s the 700ml volume mini tin ingredients

Mini Madeira cake recipe (For a cake with a volume of 700ml )

45g Butter – At room temperature
45g Margarine At room temperature
120g Caster Sugar
1tsp Vanilla essence
2Eggs
130g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
2tbsp Hot Water

I haven’t baked a cake of this size but I would imagine it will take around 30 minutes. Check it after 20 and then see how you go.

6.  How to make a 10″ Madeira cake – step by step

I’ve been asked so many questions about how to make a 10″ Madeira cake and how to stop it doming/sinking/ taking forever to bake that I decided to write a post where I take you through each step by step process. The post is here. 

 7. How to use sugar syrup on a cake  

This is one of the best discoveries. Sugar syrup makes a cake beautifully moist whilst creating a light, crunchy crust that’s totally delicious. Here’s the post.

8. How to stop your cake from baking too quickly on the outside

There is a clever little trick I use to stop my cakes from baking on the outside before they are baked on the inside. It’s all about wrapping the cake tin. Check out this post for more details.

9. How do I measure the volume of a cake tin?

When you have funny shaped tins or spheres you need to measure the volume of the cake tin to work out the ingredients needed for your cake. Here you can see how to measure your cake tin’s volume. 

10. Do you have a recipe for a 14″ Madeira cake?

I have been asked this question quite a few times but as I don’t have a tin that big – or an oven that it would fit in, I have calculated the ingredients and timings. See the post here.

11. What size eggs should I use when baking? 

This is a question I was asked a lot before I made a point of adding that detail onto my recipes. This post is all about eggs and how to use them best when baking. See the post here.

****************

If you have a question you would like answered just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it. Thanks.

EmmaMT

66 Comments on FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Hello,

    I see a recurring theme here. Nearly everyone who has a problem baking this cake uses a fan oven – so with that in mind I would suggest turning off the fan in your oven when baking. If that’s not possible- as with some modern ovens wrap your cake tin with baking paper. You can see how to do that on this post here.

    Wrapping your cake tin will stop the outside of the cake baking before the middle has a chance to get up to speed.

    I’ve made this cake a ton of times and haven’t had any problems since wrapping the tin. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

    Good luck

    EmmaMT

  2. I have a fan oven, and I bake my madeira cakes at 150 c. I also wrap my tin with a couple of layers of paper or a wet tea towel. Cake bakes beautifully and no dome either.

  3. I am making a football shirt cake. What is the best way to trim the excess sugar paste to avoid marking the iced cake board I am placing it on?

    • Hello,

      So sorry for the long awaited reply. I took a bit of a break over half term to spend time with my daughters.

      I tend to cover my cakes off the board and then transfer them straight away onto the board using a cake lifter so I can touch up any knocks. If you want to cover the cake with sugar paste while it’s on the board you can cover the cake board with baking paper. When I have done this in the past with bigger, harder to transfer cakes I tape pieces of baking paper to the table so they can’t slip out of place. I just cover the edges of the board so that the centre is clear for the cake to be stuck in place.

      I hope that helps a little for next time.

      EmmaMT

    • Your website has the most comprehensive answers to questions that I have seen! It’s fantastic. I am planning on make a spherical football cake for my son. For a 6inch diameter and 3inch deep cake tin I believe that I should use the quantity for an 8inch madeira cake. Is this right in your experience? Also do I need to double the quantity for both halves or should I simply put half the cake batter in each side?
      Any other tips for making this cake gratefully received! I am a complete novice

      • Hello,

        Thanks for your kind words. They mean so much. The best way to work out which size cake ingredients you need to use is the measure the volume of water your cake tin can hold (have a look at this post on how to do that) then follow the steps in this Madiera cake post on how to get the best cake.

        The recipes here are for one cake which you can slice in half and fill.

        Hope that helps

        EmmaMT

  4. The Madeira cake recipe states butter and marg. is this unsalted or salted butter and sort or hard marg.

    Thanks

    • Hello,

      I use unsalted wherever possible but for chocolate it doesn’t matter too much. I always use soft butter (at room temperature that is) as it blends better and makes a smoother cake mix.

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  5. Hi Emma.

    I’m thrilled to discover that you have Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle tray bake cake recipe as it’s exactly the cake I’m looking for. However, I noticed that you used 2 teaspoons of baking powder and in another recipe of the same name, I subsequently found online, they use 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Everything else about the 2 recipes (both ingredients and method) is exactly the same. Please can you let me know which amount of baking powder to use. I’m baking the cake for my husband’s birthday lunch this Sunday, 8 March 2015, and don’t want to present the guests with a flat, pancake-looking cake or a taste disaster!

    Many, many thanks!

    Kerry-Ann

    • Hello Kerry-Ann,

      I’ve just double checked in the book and Mary says “2 level tea spoons of baking powder” and I always follow the guru!

      Hope that helps and your husband loves this cake. We all do. It’s super light and fluffy!

      EmmaMT

  6. Dear Emma,

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply and for finding out for me – you’re a star! I’ll let you know next week how the tray bake turned out and I’ll be using 2 level teaspoons of baking powder!

    Have a happy week!

    Kerry-Ann
    PS My daughter’s name is Emma and she loves baking too!

    • Dear Emma,

      So sorry I’m only letting you know now about how my cake turned out, but you know how it goes… Anyway, the cake curdled and flopped and I had to bake a second one, but this time I knew how to prevent any curdling taking place and it was a delicious success! Thank you again for your help!

      • Dear Emma,

        Please can I ask you another question to do with baking and using Mary Berry’s recipes?

        To put you in the picture, I come from South Africa and only moved to the Isle of Man (UK) 9 months ago and the baking flours are very different here: in SA you had a multi-purpose cake flour to which you added baking powder, when the cake recipe called for using cake flour and we had self-raising flour to which no baking powder was added and you used this when the recipe called for it. Here in the UK they talk about all sorts of flours (a lot I gather are used for baking breads) and it’s very confusing and rather overwhelming for me when Mary Berry’s recipe says use PLAIN FLOUR, because I baked my first cake on the Isle with Plain Flour and it was inedible and didn’t rise either – had to throw it away – and I had to try and find a recipe that used flour and baking powder. A lot of Mary Berry’s cake recipes call for either self-raising flour or plain flour and she usually doesn’t require one to add baking powder to the plain flour.

        My question is: when, how and what type/make of PLAIN FLOUR should I be using when baking, seeing though one doesn’t add baking powder to it or is there an alternative to using plain flour? SO CONFUSED!!!

        Many thanks and I hope I haven’t confused you now!

        Kerry-Ann
        PS Have a happy weekend!

  7. Hello

    I made you 6 and 7 inch cakes but I used all marg and not half marg and half butter, does this make any difference to the taste or texture of the cake ?

    Amie

    • Hello,

      I find using all marg makes a nice light cake but it doesn’t taste as good as the marg and butter mix. At the same time I find all butter to produce a very hard and heavy cake. But at the end of the day it’s all a matter of taste!

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT
      x

  8. Hello…I am using your maderia cake recipe for a 3 tier naked wedding cake so no icing covering the cake. How can I ensure the cake doesn’t dry out before it is cut at the reception? I have heard mention of using sugar syrup?

  9. Hi Emma
    Inspired site. Thank you so much. I’ve learned loads just reading through

    Can you please confirm baking time for 10″ square Madeira as I’ve seen differing times and on your fab chart it says TBC

    I’m baking a 10″ square and a 8″ round for my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary party. First time for a big celebration cake so delighted to find your advice here

    It’s simply Brilliant…

    • Hello,

      I have re-measured my 10″ cake tin and baked a cake in it yesterday to double check the timing and it took exactly 2 hours to bake (120 minutes) at 180ºC without the fan on.

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  10. Hi Emma
    Inspired site. Thank you so much. I’ve learned loads just reading through

    Can you please confirm baking time for 10″ square Madeira as I’ve seen differing times and on your fab chart it says TBC

    I’m baking a 10″ square and a 8″ round for my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary party. First time for a big celebration cake so delighted to find your advice here

    It’s simply Brilliant…

    • Hello,

      I have re-measured my 10″ cake tin and baked a cake in it yesterday to double check the timing and it took exactly 2 hours to bake (120 minutes) at 180ºC without the fan on.

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  11. hi emma, im due to make a standing minion cake very soon (arrrghhhhh), could you help me as to quantities of chocolate madeira batter to fit in a ball tin, it holds 600ml, thanks

  12. Hi Emma, You have inspired me to try to bake a football birthday shirt for my son’s birthday. I know you have explained to scale up a recipe but I would like your expert opinion as to the quantities for a Madeira cake in a 13″ x 9″ rectangular tin. Many thanks

  13. I want to make a 9″ lemon cake for my daughters wedding . Can I adapt the madeira cake, and if so how much lemon will i add?

    • Hello,

      I would add the juice and zest of 1-2 lemons in the cake mix (leaving out the vanilla essence) and make a lemon flavoured sugar syrup using ½ a lemon to flavour. You can find the recipe for sugar syrup here

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  14. I’m sure I saw on your website a table for buttercream amounts which corresponded with the maderia cake chart but I can’t seem to find it

  15. Can you advise if it is ok to ice a fruit cake with roll out icing without using marzipan. I would only do this the day before needed to hopefully the fruit wouldn’t show through. We are all marzipan haters!

  16. Hello Emma

    I have tried your Madeira cake recipe twice now for large round cakes and I am very pleased with the results. No more last minute second bake required! Please can you let me know the ingredients for a SQUARE 12″ Madeira cake which will be 3″ deep at the sides once you have lopped off the dome? Thanks in advance. C 🙂

  17. I am making a wedding cake for friend’s daughter. It is going to be 4-tier but one tier will be polystyrene as it is going to be decorated with small diamantes. The bride wants the bottom and top tiers fruit, but she wants the second tier (10″ ) to be sponge. I am trying to decide between a chocolate or lemon madeira. Your recipe looks ideal, but can I ask, does it have to be all plain flour (no self-raising), also does it need such a large amount of baking powder? I am not doubting you, but getting confused with various recipes I am looking at. Yours looks best to fit the bill. Many thanks.

    • Hello,

      How lovely to be making a wedding cake like that. Lucky lady.

      I have lots of questions about the quantities of this Madeira cake and all I can say is that I have made every size on the chart and it works. I have only once swapped out the plain flour for self raising flour (during an ‘oh no I haven’t got any plain flour!!! baking session) with a smaller cake. It was okay but not as good as with the plain. This cake rises a lot – especially in the middle (check out the post on how to stop your cake from doming) so SR flour would probably make it rise up even more.

      As to whether you should go for chocolate or lemon? It’s all a matter of personal choice. I made a lemon and lime Madeira recently and that was really good.

      I really hope that helps. Good luck with your cake. I’d love to see the result. If you fancy sharing it over on the CakesBakesAndCookies.com Face book page that would be fab!

      EmmaMT

  18. I am a useless cake decorator, but not a bad cake cook.! I have recently made a 8″ fairly rich fruit cake for my friends 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are not fond of marzipan and I wondered if I can just use roll out icing, possibly just on the top of the cake with maybe a ribbon around the sides. Any ideas would be good and as simple as possible!.. I have bought some pretty golden flowers to go on the top. Many thanks. Elizabeth

    • Hello Elizabeth,

      You certainly can add a layer of icing without marzipan. Just heat up a little jam in the microwave, stir it then brush the cake with apricot jam (you can use any flavour but apricot seems to work especially well) using a silicon pastry brush. You only need a thin layer to make the cake sticky. The icing will stick easily.

      The layer of marzipan on a fruit cake is used as a base layer to make the cake smooth so the trick to making this work without it is to make sure your icing is a little thicker than normal – around ½cm. That way when you smooth the icing the bumps from the fruit in the cake won’t show.

      Have a look at this post on how to get a smooth finish if you’re looking for tips.

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  19. Hi Emma. I am going to be making a 6 inch chocolate madeira cake as a top tier wedding cake could you please tell me what size eggs you use.
    Many thanks Lynda.

  20. Hi Emma I am planning to make your 12 inch madeira cake but would like to make it lemon flavoured
    , what measurement of flavouring would I need for this size cake and would it affect the other ingredients measurements.
    Thanks Susan

    • Hello,

      I usually use the zest and juice of one lemon for an 8″ cake (omitting the vanilla essence) and add some more lemon juice and zest to the buttercream too- I like it quite strong but you can add and taste test as you add. I haven’t made a 12″ lemon but I think you would need the zest and juice of 3-4 lemons for a cake of this size.

      I hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  21. Hello,

    Can the Madeira cake be adapted to make a lemon cake? Or do you know of a good lemon cake recipe?

    I need a recipe for three tiers 10″, 8″ and 6″.

    Thank you

    • Hello,

      Yes I’ve done this a few times now. With an 8″ I add the juice and rind of one lemon and then add lemon juice and rind to the buttercream too. Remove the vanilla essence from the ingredients or they will fight to be top flavour. I also add lemon juice to the sugar syrup instead of vanilla (you can see my sugar syrup recipe here)

      For the 6″ and 10″ I’d adjust the lemon quantities accordingly.

      I hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  22. I have just tried baking.your madeira cake recipe and the cake has domed and cracked over the the top any ideas as to what I did wrong?

    • Hi Ed,

      This is a common problem with Madeira cake and one I still have on occassions. Usually this is because the oven is too hot, the cake is too high in the oven or the ingredients were over mixed.

      I hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  23. Hiya Emma. I love reading your comments. You’re so helpful! I have a few questions.
    1) I wanted to know if the wrapping round the tin with newspaper has the same effect as wilton bake even strips?
    2) do you have a buttercream recipe?
    3) do you know if making fondant with shop bought fondant icing sugar is the same as sugar paste?
    4) im making a 2 tier cake for Saturday. I aim to bake on Thursday afternoon / Friday morning. My question is whether a top tier covered in fondant is ok to be on top of a buttercream bottom tier?

    Thank you!

  24. Your website is so useful!!! I’m always checking it out and the new comments and advice. Thanks to your recipe advice on here, I recently made my first stacked cake with the top tier being a maderia cake, it was so useful having the quantities above for all the different sizes of tins, I’m going to be trying to make a lemon one next for my next cake mission, am looking forward to trying this out xx

    • Oooh me too! I’m making a lemon and lime Madeira cake for a MacMillan cake morning on Saturday.

      Thanks for your lovely comment

      EmmaMT
      x

    • Wow, that’s a toughy. I would probably use an upturned shallow bowl on a baking sheet with a piece of silicon paper to stop it sticking to the suface. Place a large thick piece of rolled out sugarpaste which is about 1cm thick over the whole thing so it’s overlapping the bowl. Cut out the shape of the shell. This will give you the curved shape. Leave it to dry for at least a week so that when you pick it up it won’t crack. Once it’s really dry you can use food colours to paint lines on the shell to make it look more real. I would mix my sugarpaste with Tylo which will make it harder much quicker. You can get this at cake decorating shops or on line.

      I hope this helps and is in time

      EmmaMT

  25. hi, I am using a new recipe for my christmas cake, but the quantity is for 2 X7″ cakes, which i don’t have, and i don’t really want to go out buying two small tins i may only use once, so my question is what size tin would i need to make just one cake, using the same quantity. I’m thinking maybe a 9 or a 10. but i need to fill it up to the top.
    thanks in advance
    Sheila

    • Hello,

      This is a little bit like asking how long’s a piece of string. Whereas usually I would know exactly I’ve never tried this with a fruit cake before. I would estimate that a 9″ tin will give you a nice tall cake and a 10″ will be too big for the cake to reach the top rim. It will of course take a lot longer to bake as it’s so deep. So what I would do is wrap my cake tin in silicon paper (which you can see how to do here). This will slow down the baking of the outside of the cake to give the middle a chance to keep up. I would also turn the temperature down by 10ºC to ensure it doesn’t bake too quickly.

      I hope this helps.
      Let me know how you get on

      EmmaMT

  26. Hi I am plan on making a 3 tier square cake my tins are 24cm/26cm/28cm all are 7cm in depth I was wonder if you could please give me a Madeira recipes with the right amount of ingredients for each tin please

    • Hello,

      You will need to use the following recipes

      24cm = 10″ round recipe
      26cm=11″round recipe
      28cm=12″round recipe

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  27. Hi Emma can you give any advice as to why my maderia cake both choc & vanilla are sinking I use a fan oven at 160, I’ve not experienced this previously and have used you recipe loads of times, i don’t open the oven until the timer goes off

    • Unfortunately this seems to be a problem that a lot of fan oven users are having. Madeira cake usually domes too much! My suggestion would be to use the oven without a fan if possible.

      EmmaMT

  28. Hi Emma I’ve been using your recipe for both your chocolate and vanilla cake religiously and they always come out amazing. I have one question though please and would be really grateful for your response. I’m baking a cake and using a rectangle cake tin which is 10 inches, should I go up a couple of inches and use the 12 inch ingredients for a round sponge?

    • Hello,

      With rectangle cake tins it’s all about the sides! Measure the length and width, add them together and divide by 2. That will give you the size for a square tin. So for example if your tin is 10″ long and 6″ wide (10+6= 16 so 16/2 = 8 and you would use an 8″ square cake recipe.

      In general a round tin size is one inch smaller than a square so you can use a 9″ round recipe for an 8″ square.

      I hope that makes sence?!?!?

      EmmaMT

  29. Hi Emma
    I’m having a go at making my brother a 50th football shirt cake from your directions, however, I’ve only make a couple of cakes in my time so slightly nervous! I have a couple of questions if you could help me with please. I’m making your chocolate cake but I’m putting a chocolate fondant filling but can I put a thin layer of chocolate fondant over the cake before I put on my icing? And how do I make the chocolate fondant filling?

    • Hello,

      What do you mean by fondant filling? Chocolate buttercream or Chocolate ganache? You can add either onto the finished and shaped cake before adding the sugarpaste. There are recipes for both on the blog. Just have a look from the search bar to find the one you’re looking for.

      Hope that helps

      EmmaMT

  30. Hi Emma, your site is so helpful, I’m making two wedding cakes this year! I have a tasting next weekend and she wants to try different flavours so I thought I’d make normal, chocolate, coffee, orange, lemon… any other ideas?? How would you adapt your recipe for the orange and lemon ones?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Sorry, I’m only just getting round to answering all the comments today – It’s all gone a bit mad, so I think you may have alreay done your testing but for future reference here’s a link to a lemon and lime cake I’ve featured before

      Happy baking

      EmmaMT

I love to hear your comments.....