Operation Domestic Goddess: Madeira Cake

Nigella Lawson is a slightly odd bird. Odd in a fascinating way, so that I really can't help but like her. She's an incredibly smart, articulate woman, but there is something about her tv presentation style that flirts with the edge of the ridiculous. She has a breezy air about her, throwing in "splodges" and "smidges" of things and sharing kitchen shortcuts in a joyfully subversive, "I-can't-be-bothered-with-stodgy-technique" sort of way. Should I trust her as an expert? I don't know, but she's just so darn likeable.

Eccentricities aside, her food is really quite good. One of my favorite things to make at the holidays is her Pomegranate Jewel Cake, which looks and tastes wonderful. A good one to tuck away if there are any gluten-intolerant people in your life, as it uses ground almonds in place of flour.

The first time we met, R and I bonded over our mutual fascination with Nigella. We've decided that over the next .....however many weekends, we're going to bake our way through her book "How to be a Domestic Goddess." Not only will we get to indulge our love of baked goods, we also hope to make a lot of new friends since we'll need help eating it all!

First up, "My Mother-in-Law's Madeira Cake."
It's somewhere between a sponge and a pound cake, flavored simply with lemon zest. My reliable sources over at Wikipedia tell me that Madeira Cake is so named because it was typically served with Madeira wine for dessert in the 19th century. It's a very easy, basic loaf cake; I must admit that I wasn't exactly swept away by it on its own, but it's a great vehicle for various toppings.

--Which is my oh-so-subtle segue to telling you about our curd and chutney shopping spree! We went to a wine and cheese festival on the Southbank last Saturday and ended up buying four jars of deliciousness from this company's stall. I can't decide which curd to try first with the cake: lemon lime, or passion fruit? Or, shoot -- both!


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