Tunis Cake

tunis cake jpeg gf vers 2.jpgAll of last week, I have been asking people of all shapes and sizes about 'Tunis Cake'. Even the post man John has been subjected to interrogation.  The thing is, I've never heard of it, but it seems a lot of people in England have a fondness for this cake, particularly around Christmas.  The first attempt started out as a surprise cake for Sebastian, but unfortunately he never got to taste it.  Within minutes of coming out of the oven, it was gone, which I took as a good sign.  So a few days later I've put the finishing touches on my version of 'Tunis' cake- unlike the original, I have iced the whole cake and not just the top and I have sneaked in a very thin layer of homemade plum jam, which is just below the chocolate frosting.  The original version has a rather thick layer of pure chocolate on top.  I don't know if Trevor (he's the guy who requested it)  will like these additions, my sense is that he is a traditionalist, but no doubt I shall soon find out exactly what he thinks.  The thing is, the base cake is absolutely delicious, the rest , ie the chocolate topping and marzipan can easily be adjusted or even deleted according to personal preferance.  I'll let you know in the morning what the girls think of it.  They will be having it for breakfast!


serves 6

Preparation time

Several hours including baking, cooling, icing and decorating


100g Gluten Free Flour (Doves Farm)
75g ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
110g unsalted butter
250g sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100ml buttermilk (or creme fraiche )
For the frosting
100g dark chocolate (Lindt 70%)
75g creme fraiche
Pinch of salt
Fruit Jam- sieved- optional
Marzipan-optional (see note below for recipe)


Preheat oven to 175 C.  Line a round tin measuring 21.5 cm with greaseproof paper.  Lightly grease and flour the tin. 

In a bowl combine the gluten free flour, ground almonds, salt and bicarbonate of soda. In a separate bowl beat the butter until pale and light.  Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs little by little until the mixture resembles mayonnaise.  Now add half of the flour mixture and gently fold it in.  Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix gently.  Add the rest of the flour and the buttermilk and combine until just mixed through.  Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.  If the cake starts to brown too much  before it's fully baked, then place a sheet of tin foil over top of the cake for the last 10 minutes of baking. 

Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

To make the icing:  Melt the chocolate over a bain marie.  Resist the temptation to stir it.  Leave it sitting over a gentle heat until the chocolate is melted.  Add a little of the creme fraiche and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.  Very gently stir the mixture.  Add the remaining bit of creme fraiche and a pinch of salt.  Stir gently until just combined.  If the mixture should turn grainy- which can happen if the chocolate gets too hot or you have been overmixing it, then add a few drops of cold water and very gently stir until the icing becomes glossy again. 

To assemble the cake:  Brush off any loose crumbs.  Brush a very thin layer of jam (apricot, raspberry or plum) over the top of the cake.  Allow the jam to set before proceeding. Ice the cake and allow to set a few minutes.  Make marzipan decorations and scatter across the cake. 



marzipan jpeg.jpgThis recipe for marzipan comes from Leith's Bible.  It is very easy to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks.  Make sure you keep it in a sealed container or tightly sealed in a plastic bag.  You will only need a small amount to decorate the cake.

Ingredients for Marzipan

110g caster sugar, 110g icing sugar, 250g ground almonds,1 egg yolk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Combine the sugars and almonds in a bowl.  Combine the eggs, lemon juice and vanilla essence.  Add this to the sugar mixture and beat briefly with a wooden spoon.  Lightly dust a working surface with some icing sugar and gently knead the dough until smooth.  Do not over do it as overkneading can make the oil in the almonds leach out and you will get a greasy paste.  Wrap well and store somewhere cool until required.

If you want to prepare this cake ahead of time, you can bake and freeze it up to a month in advance.  Defrost the cake fully before icing.  The marzipan can be made several weeks ahead of time. 

The cake is delicious on it's own and can also be baked in a normal loaf tin.  You may need to adjust the baking time slightly. 

adriana's picture
adriana wrote 9 years 7 weeks ago

Did they like it?

Forgot to post this the day after, yes the girls loved the cake, especially the marzipan decorations.  In fact, the cake and the marzipan were devoured.  The rather adult chocolate frosting was left in a little heap on the corner of the plate.  My sense is that the cake is the star here.  It is dense, moist and beautifully almondy.  Just about the best 'pound' cake I've ever had.  Please do try it on it's own and then dress it up for Christmas if you feel like it.  And what about Trevor?  What did he make of it?  No idea, he's gone all quiet and mysterious. So Trevor, if you're out there, please can you let me know your inner most thoughts.