lemon madeira loaves with candied citrus peel

I've been dreaming loaves again. This time it's a modern twist on a very old-fashioned moreish madeira loaf. You can make one large tall or two smaller loaves with this recipe. If you like a simple lemon syrup glaze, then just stick to sploshing the loaf while still hot with your lemon syrup dipped pastry brush. For more indulgence, why not sandwich 2 smaller loaves together with lemon cream cheese icing. Fresh candied citrus peel coupled with good cream cheese icing is such a special afternoon tea treat. 

Recipes from my oldest vintage cookbooks add finely chopped candied peel to the madeira batter as well.  I normally reserve it for decorating loaf/cake tops, but if desired feel free to add some into your mix as well, about 50 grams of peel. Madeira cake batter has been used as the base for so many popular cakes over the years; banana, cherry, choc walnut, coconut, date, ginger, raspberry and even sweet petits fours.

ingredients     madeira loaf -  350 grams unsalted butter (at room temp) ❤ 1¼ cups caster sugar ❤ 6 free range eggs ❤ zest and juice of 3 lemons ❤ 1¼ cups plain flour ❤ 1 teaspoon baking powder ❤ 1 cup almond meal    lemon glaze - juice of 2 lemons ❤ 1 cup caster sugar ❤ 1 cup water     candied citrus peel - 4 large lemons or 3 small lemons & 3 small oranges ❤ ½ cup (110grams) caster sugar ½ cup (125 ml) water    lemon cream cheese icing - 125 grams cream cheese (at room temp) ❤ 30 grams butter, softened ❤ 1 tablespoon lemon juice ❤ 1 teaspoon fine lemon zest ❤ ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ❤ 2½ cups pure icing sugar (sifted) 

method - Preheat oven to moderately slow 170°C (335°F). Grease and line two 22cm x 11cm loaf tins with baking paper.  For loaves - cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to combined before adding the next.  The mixture will curdle a little at this point but don’t worry.  It is a fairly wet mix and results in a very moist loaf.

Add lemon juice and zest and stir through to combine. Sift flour and baking powder together three times.  Add flour to mixture with the ground almonds and fold through with a large metal spoon, being sure not to over-mix madeira batter.  Spoon into the tins - the mixture doesn’t rise much so fill to desired height. Bake for 55 minutes or until loaves spring back when lightly touched in the centre. 

Just make the lemon glaze and icing while your loaves are baking. The candied citrus peel can be made earlier or at any time. For lemon glaze, place ingredients in a small saucepan and boil until sugar dissolves. 

For candied citrus peel - drop the prepared peel strips into a medium saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds only. Drain them well using a sieve/colander. Combine the sugar and water in the same saucepan, stirring well until the sugar has dissolved. Once syrup mixture comes to the boil, tip the drained peel in and reduce heat to low, cooking at a gentle bubble for 10 minutes.  Turn heat off and allow to cool in the syrup. Drain them again in sieve/colander before tipping out onto a plate covered in caster sugar to toss and coat. Lay peel strips on baking paper to dry and set.

I do prefer a softer, more pliable candied peel for shaping and decorating cakes. Originally I boiled the peel for much longer but this method is so easy and lovely. Don’t slice the peel strips too fine but always make sure not to leave any bitter pith attached, as pictured. This peel always reminds me of the lovely cakes topped with sugared peel on display at Jocelyns Provisions cake store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  Peel keeps for up to one week in an airtight container.

For lemon cream cheese icing - combine all ingredients (except icing sugar) and beat well with a handheld beater until creamy.  Add sifted icing sugar slowly and beat in well to combine.