Tunis Cake- The Lost Christmas Cake Recipe
The Return Of The Tunis Cake!
From my childhood I have fond memories of Christmas with my parents and three sisters. My mother would bake the typical rich English fruit cake, but she would also buy a Tunis Cake each year. My father preferred it, with its’ delicate Madeira sponge and gentle lemon flavour and nutty consistency and topped with a generous layer of chocolate. The one I remembered had coloured marzipan fruits on top as well! I have always loved this cake, but was disappointed that I couldn’t get it in Germany where we lived for 13 years. There was always plenty of Stollen and Lebkuchen at Christmas time, but alas, no Tunis Cake!
Undeterred, I managed to find a recipe to make my own and have been making it most years ever since. This was just as well as in the meantime it had almost vanished from the shops in England. I mean, who can resist all that chocolate which goes so well with the Madeira sponge? You can add marzipan fruits if desired, which can be bought or made and added with the decoration at the end.
Tunis Cake was invented in 1973 by McVities who sold it in the UK until the early eighties. The name may have come from the Tunis warrior during the Carthage Empire, who celebrated victories won with Rome with the tradition of serving Madeira wine and cake.
Do you have any memories of Tunis Cake during the 70s and 80s? Leave your comments below!
Prep Time: 30-40 mins
- 6 oz (150g) butter
- 6 oz (150g) caster sugar
- Grated rind 1 lemon
- 3 eggs
- 3 oz (75g) ground almonds
- 8 oz (200g) plain flour
- 1 1/2 teasp baking powder
- 2 tablesp milk
- "For Topping"
- 8 oz (200g) good quality plain chocolate
- 2 oz (50g) butter
- 4 oz (100g) sifted icing sugar
- 7 pieces walnut
- 8 inch cake tin
- Piping bag with 8 star pipe
Perfect to stand your tunis cake on and keep covered until ready to serve, but can also be used as a chip and dip server, punch or salad bowl and more!
- Brush the tin with melted fat and line the base with greased greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to Gas 3 (325 F, 170 C).
- Beat the butter and sugar together until soft and add lemon rind.
- Add beaten eggs gradually, until light and fluffy.
- Fold in flour, almonds, baking powder and enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
- Turn into the tin, spread evenly, leaving the centre slightly hollow.
- Bake on centre shelf of oven for 1 1/4 hours- until cake is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
- Break chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Wrap band of foil around the side of the cake so that it extends above the side by about 1/2 inch.
- Carefully pour melted chocolate onto the top of the cake, gently easing it to the sides to smooth the surface. Allow to set.
- Beat together the butter and icing sugar until creamy and use to fill the piping bag. When chocolate is set, peel off the foil and pipe a shell or rosette edge around the top. Complete with a whirl in the centre and a flower of walnuts.
- You can freeze the madeira cake for up to 6 months. Decorate after thawing overnight.
Piping was so much easier for me when I found this type of piping tube. I had better control, without it all oozing out at the sides! Re-usable and dishwasher safe!