Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tunis cake

If, like me, you watched the Christmas Bake Off special on TV you will have spotted this cake as the one made by Mary Berry.  It got Mr CC’s attention and within seconds of that thick ganache topping going on I was made to promise it would appear in our household at some point over Christmas!  Mr CC can never resist a good chocolate cake.

This is a deceptively simple cake to make and tastes of luxury.  The ganache topping tastes like the richest, most delicious truffle and works so well with the soft, crumbly Madeira-like sponge. 

I made one tweak in that I turned the sponge into a vanilla one rather than Mary’s lemon version.  This was an act of selfishness on my part! 

The sponge was so good I will use it for other cakes – I think it would take sultanas well, or be nice topped with cream and fruit in the summer.

The origin of Tunis cake seems uncertain.  It was mass produced by McVities in the 1970s but 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 think a victorious warrior would be very pleased with a slice of this cake named after him!


For the sponge:
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used this instead of the recommended grated zest of 1 lemon)
225g self raising flour
70g ground almonds

For the ganache:
300ml double cream
400g chocolate – I used half dark, half milk – broken into squares

To decorate: sprinkles of your choice


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper, making sure the paper comes up above the height of the tin.

Beat together the butter and sugar until whippy and pale.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding some of the flour if it looks like it might curdle.

Beat in the vanilla.

Fold in the flour and almonds.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 1 hour, although it’s best to check the cake after 45 minutes in case it is browning too quickly.  If it is, loosely cover the top with foil, and carry on baking.  Mine didn’t need this, but all ovens are different.

Leave the cake to cool – do not remove from the tin.  This is of vital importance!

Now make the ganache topping: heat the cream until just starting to bubble but not boiling.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.

Stir gently to help the chocolate melt.  At first it will look a bit of a mess but gradually the mix will turn into a smooth, glossy ganache.

Leave to cool, but not set.

If your cake has a peak – and you can do it without de-tinning the cake – level it as best you can.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and put aside to set.  It’s best not to refrigerate at this point as it keeps the chocolate glossy.

When the ganache has set, decorate however you wish.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Dipika said...

This looks so good! I also resolved to make this after seeing it on TV. Madeira cake is my all time favourite - I can't believe I haven't thought of pairing it with chocolate!

Stuart Vettese said...

That ganache topping just looks so inviting! I'm trying to be good this month too....

cupcake girl said...

It looks lovely! I was intrigued when i saw them making this.....did you use dark or milk choc for the ganache? I now really want to try that sponge!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Cupcake Girl

I used half milk, half dark - I find this produces a rich but not bitter ganache

Happy baking!

Jo said...

I think that's the most impressive wedge of ganache I've ever seen!

Jean said...

I did indeed see this on TV and vowed I would have to make one before long.
I'm glad it turned out well and this makes me more determined to make one. Yours looks fabulous. Thanks also for looking into the history of this cake. I don't remember the McVities version, which is surprising as I was a major consumer of bought cake in the 70's.

Laura Denman said...

You had me as soon as I saw how thick that ganache layer was!

Lelly Jelly said...

Yep, Tunis cakes are still on sale. A few years ago I bought (yes, bought, I normally make my own cakes) mine from Waitrose, not their own brand, it was awful. M&S make one just like the McVities one. Yours looks super! As for Mary Berry - fab baker but I hav to disagree, tunis cake is not lemon! Sorry!

Baking Addict said...

This looks amazing! I have to watch this episode on iplayer and make this cake!

The KitchenMaid said...

I've never heard of Tunis cake - but this looks brilliant! Good idea using half and half milk/dark for the ganache (though I am a glutton for the super dark stuff and would probably just use it to put off other eaters). Thanks for the inspiration and happy new year!

Cakelaw said...

Wow, that ganache topping looks super. Unfortunately we were out when this special was screened, so I didn't see it.

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

That looks so incredibly yummy it's made my tummy rumble! :)

Lucy said...

This looks like a delicious way of using up lots of chocolate I have in the house and I love the story behind it!

Sally Sellwood said...


Maggie said...

I saw Mary making this and thought what a wonderful alternative to the usual fruit Christmas Cake this would be. Looks really delicious.

snowy said...

I saw MB making this and it's on my list to make. Yours looks delicious - the ganache is so good. I remember Tunis cakes you could buy - loved them too!

Sumaiyyah said...

I love how beautifully thick the chocolate ganache looks ^_^

Nickki said...

I think your cake looks better than Mary's! Look at that ganache, yum!

Choclette said...

Ooh my, this sounds "awesome". But the big question is: how did I miss an episode of GBBO???

Chrissie said...

I remember the mcvitties ones well during my childhood, with arguments over the marzipan fruits until my dad swooped in and ate them all!
As I am allergic to oranges, this is my cake of choice to make this Christmas. This year Waitrose and Tesco are charging £7 for one smaller than a dinner plate. I will be making mine in my parents huge baking tin, that Dad made his famous choc chip cake in.
I suspect this will start a new tradition for us. It will certainly bring back happy memories of my childhood.

Katy Selby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katy Selby said...

Mistyped earlier!!! Thanks for the upload!! Im going to make this!!!

Anonymous said...

Can anybody help please? Can I bake my Tunis cake a couple of weeks before and freeze before adding choc topping?

Adrian said...

Tried this at the weekend, unfortunately I find the chocolate topping is a little hard. Having checked out recipes for chocolate ganache, the general rule is 100ml of cream for each 100g of chocolate. Apart from that the recipe works fine.

Adrian said...

I tried this at the weekend as a birthday cake. Unfortunately we found the chocolate topping a little too hard. Have checked out recipes for chocolate ganache and the general rule seems to be 100g of chocolate for each 100ml of cream. Apart from that the recipe works well.

Unknown said...

Does anyone have any suggestions about how to keep the ganache from going down the sides of the cake. The parchment paper adheres to the side of the pan, and the cake pulls away from the side of the paper during baking. It would be nice to have a clean layer of ganache, but I haven't been able to find a successful way to make that happen, and could use suggestions.