A few weeks ago I was asked to make a Tunis Cake, which apparently was an alternative to Xmas cake in the 1950s through to the early 70s. I had never heard of it, but it was really special to this couple, so after some research I came up with this recipe –
325g self-raising flour (sifted)
250g softened butter
250g castor sugar
175g ground almonds
1 lemon juice, and rind
150g dark chocolate; 40g butter; 1.5 tbsp water
– Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until pale
– Add the eggs, flour, lemon juice, lemon rind and ground almonds, mixing thoroughly.
– Place the mixture into a 8in greased and floured cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 150oC/300oF/gas mark 2 for one hour or until springy in the middle when pressed.
Ensure the cake is totally cold before decorating.
The key to a Tunis Cake is the deep layer of dark chocolate – the recipe only uses 150g, but I doubled it, and the result was so much better. So the chocolate only coats the top, and does not go down the sides, tightly wrap some greaseproof paper around the sides of the cake, standing proud about 3cm of the top, securing with a piece of string.
Melt the chocolate & butter, stirring to ensure it is totally smooth, then leave to cool.
I then glazed the top with warmed apricot jam to stop any crumbs getting into the topping. I also glazed the sides as the customer would not be eating the cake until Xmas Day so I wanted it to stay as moist as possible.
I then very carefully poured the melted chocolate onto the cake top and smoothed it with a small palette knife. I then left it overnight to fully set.
It appears that the original Tunis Cake had three marzipan fruits, so I made an orange, which I textured using a nutmeg grater, a green apple, and a banana. To get the correct skin effect I used small pieces of pale brown marzipan, rolled into the yellow so it was still visible as brown & yellow. I left the cake overnight, then positioned the fruits in the centre the next day.
I was really pleased with the finished cake, and thankfully so was the customer!