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Saturday, 18 October 2014


In the last Christmas Bake Off Special, Mary Berry made a Tunis Cake, which I have been meaning to try. I had a request from a customer a few years back to bake a Tunis Cake for her mother, she tried to describe the cake to me as I had never heard of it before.

A Tunis cake is a Madeira cake topped with a thick layer of chocolate and decorated with marzipan fruits. It is traditionally eaten at Christmas.

Scottish bakery Macfarlane Langs produced commercial Tunis Cakes in the 1930s, and when they merged with McVitie & Price in 1948 to form a company called United Biscuits (which still owns the McVitie’s brand) the recipe passed to the new company. McVitie's produced a Tunis cake until the mid 1980s. It is now sold seasonally by Tesco, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer. An early recipe does not include the chocolate and marzipan topping.

Origin of Tunis cake seems uncertain. It is thought the recipe dates back to Edwardian times. However, the reason for the name perhaps dates back a lot further to the days of Carthage’s wars with the Roman Empire. After a victory the Tunis warriors would celebrate with cake and wine, which is why Tunis cake is made for celebrations.

I used Mary Berry's Tunis Cake Recipe, with some adaptions as I love marzipan, I made a marzipan layer, in-between the cake and ganache layer.

For the cake:
225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
70g ground almonds
4 large eggs
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

For the ganache topping:

300ml double cream
400g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces

200g natural marzipan

apricot jam for brushing

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking parchment.

Measure the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a palette knife or spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes, cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and cook for a further 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

Brush the top of the cake with warm apricot jam.

roll out the marzipan into a disc large enough to sit exactly on the top of the cake.

Pour the cream into a small pan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. When cool but not setting pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled cake and put aside to set.

To serve, remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer.

Decorate with Marzipan fruits or Christmas themed Marzipan Decorations, or glittery gold stars.

Delicious ! On sale in my shop today.


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