The traditional Madeira Honey Cake, “bolo de mel” in Portuguese is usually made for Christmas, but it can also be found all year round on the island. It is a custom to make enough of this cake in order to have some during the whole year. Once cooled and thoroughly wrapped into vegetable paper it remains good until next Christmas without losing quality or taste. Another tradition around this dessert is that it is not cut with a knife, but by hand and also eaten by hand, nothing more than a tradition but very respected among locals.
1. One day before making the cake, buy the bread-dough at the baker's shop, sprinkle a little bit of flour on the dough, put it in a towel and keep it in a warm place until the next day.
2. Put the baking soda into the Madeira wine and dissolve. Warm up the honey in a pan, mix the butter and pork fat (if not available, just use butter) and dissolve them. Cool down the mixture..
3. Sift flour into a bowl, mix in the sugar, make a well and put the bread dough into it. Now work the flour-sugar mixture into the bread dough. As soon as this is well joined, start to incorporate little by little the (tepid) honey-fat mixture. Add some of the candied lemon peel, as well as Madeira wine, orange juice and orange zest, anise, cinnamon, and cloves.
4. Add and knead thoroughly until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Cover the dough with a towel and put it in a warm spot. Keep it in a warm place for 3-4 days.
5. Divide the dough into portions of 250g, 500g or 750 g, depending on pans to put into the oven. This cake is made in wide, round pans which are rather low. Before going into the oven, the cake is decorated with half-walnuts, sliced almonds and the remaining candied lemon peel.
6. Grease the baking pans. Bake about 50 minutes 355 °F (180 °C). Let cool down before taking it out of the baking pan.
Source: Associação de Promoção da Madeira