A little while ago, I had to go on a preparation diet for a medical test. The best way to describe the diet is "smooth white stuff". It meant that I was quite limited in what I could eat, including the types of sweet treats I could have.
To indulge my baking habit during this period, I made a plain vanilla cake known as a Madeira Cake. Madeira Cake is often used as the base for other flavoured cakes, but on this occasion, there was to be no additions for me.
There are dozens of Madeira Cake recipes out there, but the one I chose was from a vintage cookbook, The Schauer Australian Cookery Book (1962 edition). All of the recipes in this book are in imperial measurements, and there are no photos. Also, there is no separate list of ingredients - you read the ingredients as you go along with the method.
The finished cake was a beauty:
The recipe as it appears in the book is as follows:
Cream 1/2 lb butter and 1/2 lb sugar together. When quite white add a few drops of vanilla essence or a little grated lemon rind [not in my case!!]. Add 4 eggs slowly well beaten together. Sift 10 oz plain flour with one level teaspoon of baking powder twice. [I skipped the sifting.] Add to the mixture. Beat in lightly. Half fill a well greased and floured tin. Place in another tin [hmmm, I didn't] and bake in a moderate oven for 1 1/4 hours.
Don't you just love it? It assumes some knowledge of baking and so doesn't fill in the finer details like cookbooks today. For me, this was not a problem, but I can imagine it would cause some people to scratch their heads.
It was a lovely cake, and hit the spot despite its totally unadorned nature. Even the work crowd appreciated its simplicity.