Cranberry orange Madeira cake muffins are my twist on classic British bake Madeira cake. Synonymous with New Year in Scotland, these are simple to bake, not too sweet, & these cakes don't need any decorating so ideal for beginner bakers or gifting.
Cranberry ORANGE Madeira cake Muffins
*Click on table to jump to section
What Is A Madeira Cake?
Madeira Cake is a very popular classic cake made in the UK. It is usually in loaf form, and is a delicious butter cake, with a closer texture than say a British Victoria Sandwich Cake. A little similar in composition to an American Pound Cake, Madeira Cake has the addition of ground almonds (almond meal), and has a very golden crust to it.
Madeira cake classically is made plain, but you will also find cherry or sultana version in a Scottish household on Hogmanay. Like Scottish Shortbread, Madeira Cake is popular at New Year.
Where Does Madeira Cake Come From?
Contrary to common belief, Madeira Cake does not originate from the island of Madeira in Portugal, or even contain Madeira Wine. The first published recipe for Madeira Cake was in Britain, in 1845 in Eliza Acton’s book: Modern Cookery For Private Families1.
Why Is It Called Madeira Cake?
It is believed that the name Madeira Cake was given to this not-too-sweet cake, as it was often served with some Madeira wine.
Why Make Madeira Muffins?
- Quick to make
- Easy to prepare, so ideal beginner recipe
- No decorating required
- Not too sweet
- No special equipment needed
- Taste GREAT
- Ideal for sharing & gifting
- Use fresh or frozen cranberries
- Easily adapted with different fruit
Ingredients List & Notes
- Butter, unsalted
- Ground Almonds
- Orange Extract
- Fresh Cranberries
- Orange Zest & Juice (optional)
- UK medium or large sized eggs are used, which equates to US large or extra large.
- Orange Extract, Valencian orange extract to be exact is a highly recommended extract and great when you don’t have any oranges to zest. I buy shop own brand from Asda & Sainsbury’s, or brand Cake Décor that you can buy in Morrisons & Sainsbury’s. ‘Orange flavour’ bottles are not great and orange or even tangerine zest more beneficial.
The sugar used is Caster sugar and equivalent to Extra/Super Fine Sugar, or you can make your own by processing some granulated sugar. See my UK sugar comparison photo.
UK Self-raising flour is recommended, but Plain or All Purpose flour has also been tested, with the addition of baking powder. The amounts for this are listed in the Recipe card below.
Ground Almonds give a lovely texture and added moisture to the Maderia cake muffins. As a substitute, use Almond Meal (not Almond Flour which is too fine), or even grind your own almonds. Videos on YouTube for this, but is basically done by bashing the almonds (with skins on), and then processing. See my photo below comparing ground almond texture to flour.
I listed ‘Fresh Cranberries’ as opposed to dried sweetened cranberries. They don’t need to be ‘fresh’ and can be used from frozen too. Just don’t defrost and coat in flour, just before folding into the cake batter.
US & Canadian alternatives are listed above & in the recipe Card, but the following also work well:
Blueberries – are a nice substitute for the cranberries and work well in Madeira cake.
Red Plums – these are my favourite substitute when cranberries are not in season or have none in the freezer. Firm red plums give a similar tart taste to the madeira muffins that the original cranberries provide. Just chop into small pieces, and coat in flour just like the cranberries. Here is a photo collage of the Red Plum Orange Madeira Muffins & Mini Bundts.
Lemon Extract: original Madeira cake uses a little lemon extract or lemon zest, which will also work well with blueberries.
This recipe makes 10 muffins, or 6 muffins & 6 mini bundt cakes. (See photo of red plum & orange cakes in muffin & mini bundt form). If using regular cupcake sized paper cases, you should get 12 cakes. If you want all to be mini bundt cake sized, this will yield 14 – 16 mini bundt cakes. For 12 muffins, increase the recipe by multiplying the ingredients by 1.20. For tips, tables and a video, see my Increase A Recipe article.
Paper muffin cases and not baking directly in the cupcake or muffin tin is strongly recommended. Please also avoid foil cases.
For the mini bundt cakes, both silicone and metal tins all work well. See the notes on greasing these. Note also that metal mini bundt tins will give a better, darker overall colour to the cakes than silicone cases.
Greasing Mini Bundts
If making Madeira cake in mini bundt cake form, both silicone and metal cases work well with this recipe.
Frylight, cooking spray, cake release spray all work well in silicone cases. Grease them really well like in the photo collage.
For metal bundt tins, cooking sprays, cake-release spray and even homemade lining paste (cake goop) all work well. Sprays are much quicker and easier to use on small bundt tins with a lot of details.
Experienced bakers can skip the detailed step-by-step recipe instructions by clicking the link below.Jump to Recipe
- To stop all of the cranberries sinking to the bottom of the muffins, here is what I do. Wash them in warm water, pat dry with kitchen paper/paper towel, before coating in 1 or 2 tbsp of flour. When you come to add to the cake batter, gently fold the cranberries in, in 3 increments to ensure even distribution. You can also hold a few flour-coated cranberries back, and place on top of the batter when already in the muffin case.
- Place silicone mini bundt cases into a cupcake tray and this will help them hold their shape and make moving them easier.
1. Weigh/measure out your ingredients (grams, ounces & cup measurements found in the Recipe Card below, that are all hand measured). Cube the butter in small pieces roughly ½” (1¼ cm), as smaller surface area will soften and come to room temperature quicker, and make mixing together an easier process. If you forget to leave the butter out to soften, or are short on time, try this hack for Softening Butter In About 12 Minutes (Video).
2.You also want to wash your fresh cranberries in warm water, before pat drying with some kitchen paper/paper towels. Then toss in a few tbsps of flour to cover the cranberries and leave to the side. This stops all the cranberries sinking to the bottom of the muffins. (See photo collage before the instructions).
3. Begin by ‘creaming’ the softened butter with the sugar, by beating till smooth, spreadable and paler in colour. (See Photo collage 1).
4. Next add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in-between each addition.
5. Sieve over the flour, (and baking powder if using Plain/A.P. flour and not UK self-raising), before adding in the ground almonds (Almond meal not almond flour), orange extract, juice & zest. See Photo collage 1.
6. Mix these ingredients together, just until combined and there are no flour pockets underneath. Do not overmix.
7. Finally fold in about ⅓ of the flour-coated fresh cranberries by hand, with a spatula, just until covered with batter. Repeat 2 more times till all cranberries are incorporated evenly. See Photo collage 2.
8. Heat the oven to: 180°c/160°c Fan Oven/350°f/Gas Mark 4.
9. While the oven is heating, line a cupcake or muffin tin with the paper liners, or prepare your mini cake pan. This recipe can make 10 muffins, or 6 muffins & 6 mini bundt cakes. The choice is yours. As is whether to use silicone mini bundt cases or a metal mini bundt tin. More on that in the notes before these instructions.
10. For the mini bundt cakes, they require greasing and I find Frylight cooking spray (here I used the Butter version), works perfectly for metal and silicone bundts. Spray generously with this, a cooking spray, or cake-release spray. (See Photo collage 3). For metal bundt tins, homemade lining paste/cake goop works great too.
- Tip – place mini silicone bundt cases in a cupcake tray to hold their shape & make transporting easier.
11. Fill the muffin cases or mini bundts with the prepared batter – at least ¾ full. See Photo collage 3.
12. Give the muffin/bundt tray a few taps on the counter/worktop to expel any trapped air, before popping in the middle of the pre-heated over, for about 17-20 minutes. Bake till a deep golden crust has formed on the top & a wooden cocktail stick comes out clean of crumbs. Mini bundts will bake slightly quicker at about 16-18 minutes.
13. Leave to cool in their tin on a cooling rack for 5 mins.
14. After 5 minutes the muffins should be removed from the cupcake tray and left to cool completely on the rack.
15. Remove silicone bundts from cupcake tray, turn upside-down & leave on paper lined cooling rack. (See photo 4). Press on the top while holding under the rack & gently push down twice to slightly flatten the bottom of the mini bundts. Leave to cool before removing the cases.
16. For metal tin mini bundts, after 5 minutes cooling, turn the entire mini bundt tin over, on top of paper lined cooking rack, and give a few taps to let the cakes release. Some might need a cocktail stick pushed through the centre of the bundt if there is a hole in the middle there. (See photo collage 4). A few more taps and the cakes should all release.
These Madeira cranberry orange muffins do not require any decoration. If you make mini bundt cakes, you can add some jam, whipped cream or homemade curd. See the photo of my lemon blueberry version with some blueberry orange curd in the centre.
Cakes are best stored in metal tins, like cake or cookie tins, but any airtight container will work.
Store in a cool environment, but no need for the fridge. These will last 4 – 7 days.
Can be frozen if individually covered with baking (parchment) paper, then either a food bag or airtight container, and will be safe to freeze for up to 3 months2 Simply defrost overnight in the fridge.
Cranberry Orange Madeira Cake Muffins
- Digital scales or measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- 10 Muffin Paper Cases (or mini bundt cases/tins* – see notes)
- 12-hole Cupcake/Muffin Tin (or mini bundts tin* – see notes)
- Wooden Cocktail stick
- Cooling rack
- 125 grams Butter – unsalted, cubed and softened. (4½ oz, ½ cup)
- 125 grams Caster Sugar (Extra/Super Fine Sugar, 4½ oz, ⅔ cup)* See above
- 3 Medium -Large Eggs (US – Large – XLarge)
- 160 grams Self-raising Flour (5½ oz, 1¼ cups OR Plain/All Purpose Flour + 2 tsp Baking Powder) * See notes
- 35 grams Ground Almonds (1¼ oz, ¼ cup) * see notes
- 2 tsp Orange Extract
- 70 grams Cranberries, whole, fresh or frozen (2½ oz, ¾ cup)
- Zest of 1 Orange (optional)
- 1½ tsp Orange Juice (optional)
Prepare Cake Batter
- When the butter is softened & room temperature, add to your mixing bowl with the sugar, use a hand-mixer or stand-mixer & ‘Cream’ together. Try this video hack for softening butter in 12 minutes.
- Add one egg at a time, 1 tbsp of the flour & mix well in-between each addition. Sieve over the remaining flour (and baking powder if using Plain/A.P. flour), before adding in the ground almonds, orange extract, juice and zest if using. Mix together only until all incorporated and a thick batter is produced.
- Wash the cranberries in warm water before pat drying and coating in 1 or 2 tbsp flour before folding into the batter in 3 increments.
- Heat your oven to 180°c/160°c Fan Oven/350°f/Gas Mark 4.
Prepare Muffin Cases/Tin
- Line a cupcake or muffin tray with paper muffin cases, (do not bake directly into the cupcake/muffin tin). For mini silicone bundt cases, add these to a cupcake tin to help hold their shape. Silicone & metal mini bundt cases should be greased well for easy removal. Use Frylight spray, cooking spray or cake release spray. Homemade lining paste (cake goop) can also be used on metal bundt tins.
Bake The Cake
- Spoon the cake batter into the prepared muffin cases/mini bundt cases, about ¾ full. (See notes on recipe yield.) Give the cupcake tray a few taps on the counter/worktop before popping into the centre of the pre-heated oven.
- Bake for about 17 – 20 minutes, till rise, set, a deep golden colour and a wooden cocktail stick comes out clean of crumbs. My muffins baked off at about 19 minutes with the tray rotated after 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Mini bundts will bake slightly quicker at about 17 minutes for metal bundt tin.
- Please note that silicone mini bundts while fully cooked, once removed from the cases, will be a paler golden shade than the tops of these and the muffins. So You can bake a few more minutes covered, or do so once out of the cases.
- Remove from the oven & place on the cooling rack to cool down for about 5 minutes. After which you can remove the muffins from the cupcake tray and leave to cool down on the cooling rack. For metal tin mini bundts, after 5 minutes, go round the cakes with a cocktail stick and turn the tray over onto a cooling rack, tap the tray and release the cakes. For mini silicone bundts, turn them upside-down and leave to cool upside-down before releasing them.
Serving & Storing
- Serve the muffins just as they are, no decoration required. Mini bundt cakes can be served with some blueberry orange curd in the centre or your favourite jam.
- Store left-overs Madeira muffins & bundt cakes in an airtight container – I use cake tins. Leave in a cool environment & these will last 4 – 7 days. Can be frozen, if individually covered with baking/parchment) paper, then a food bag or airtight container, for up to 3 months2. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
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Cranberry Madeira Muffins
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