Recipe — Madeira Honey Cake

Considered one of the main delicacies of Madeiran cuisine, the honey cake can be bought from many places, while lots of families still make it at home.

When did it first appear? No one knows for sure, but it is thought to date from around the introduction of sugar cane to the island during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is also thought that the honey cake was first made in a convent, with some references mentioning the Santa Clara convent.

Tradition has it that the honey cake should be made on 8 December, the day of Our Lady of Conception, and is one of the sweet meats that accompany Christmas dinner.


  • Flour: 1 Kg
  • Sugar: 500 g
  • Lard: 250 g
  • Butter: 250 g
  • Madeira Cane Honey: 1 l
  • Madeira Crystallised Cider: 200 g
  • Crushed almond: 200 g
  • Sultanas: 250 g
  • Crushed fennel: 10 g
  • Ground cloves: 10 g
  • Ground nutmeg: 10 g
  • Ground cinnamon: 10 g
  • Orange juice: 250 ml


  1. Melt the butter and lard in a pan. Allow to cool.
  2. Mix the cane honey, dried fruits and sugar in a separate container.
  3. Mix everything well with the cooled butter and lard.
  4. Add the flour, spices and orange juice.
  5. Knead until everything is well mixed.
  6. Leave the dough to rest in a closed container for two days, after which time it should be placed in a greased mould and decorated with the ground walnut and whole peeled almonds.
  7. Place in an oven at 150 °C for 40-45 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Honey cake is traditionally broken up and served by hand.


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