Ultimate Tunis Cake recipe

The Epicureans Answer Tunis Cake

This is my ideal Tunis Cake recipe, it has a softer, richer chocolate topping than most supermarket versions and as a tribute to my seventies memories of the original the icing is a symphony of orange and brown.



250g butter

450g sugar

250g flour

75g corn flour

2 tsp baking powder

250ml milk

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon essence


250g milk chocolate

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

100ml cream (35% fat)

Marzipan and food colouring (for fruits)

Royal Icing mixture

Acetate strip (long enough to go round your cake and approx 10cm/4” wide)


Preheat oven to 170°C / 325°F / 150°C fan.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, fluffy and increased in volume. This is where you start to get the air in to the cake to make it fluffy and light so

Add eggs one at time, beating until combined between each addition.

Add vanilla extract and lemon essence.

Sift flour, corn flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

Add one third of flour mix to egg mixture, stir until combined.

Add 125ml milk, stir until combined.

Add next third of flour mix, stir until combined.

Add 125ml milk, stir until combined.

Add final third of flour mix, stir until combined.

Pour mixture into a well-lined 10”/25cm spring-form tin and bake for 90 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. (This seems like an awful time but you need to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. Cover the top loosely with foil if it browns too quickly)

Cool cake for 10 mins in tin then remove the top half of the spring-form and let cool completely. (You may need to slice the top off if it has browned a little too much or is too domed)

Heat the cream until almost boiling then pour it over the finely chopped chocolate.

Whisk until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy. (If your chocolate hasn’t completely melted, place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir gently until all the solid parts disappear).

Place the acetate strip around your cake so the bottom edge comes to half way up the side of the cake. Pull the strip tight – so the bottom edge forms a ganache-leak-proof seal – and tape together.

Pour the warm ganache onto the top of the cake and leave to set – this could take a few hours, so don’t panic it will set. (Do not refrigerate or your topping will go grainy).

My choice of fruits (and vegetable!)


Meanwhile make your marzipan fruits by moulding and painting with food colours. I chose a pear, an orange (or is it a Satsuma?) and a chilli – a departure from the traditional adornments, but they are my favourites and it is my cake!

Mix up the royal icing mixture with your own colour choice and pipe around edges. (The icing will have to be quite stiff. To be honest this is just showing off, the cake is just as ace with out it.)

Like all cakes it should not be stored in the fridge, as this will dry it out.

Serving suggestion: Massive slice with a cup of Earl Grey tea, whilst reading a Christmas catalogue.

16 comments on “Ultimate Tunis Cake recipe”

  1. Mrs B's comment - added on 10th of December, 2012 at 4:04 pm


    Just wanted to check 450g of sugar was correct and not a typo as it seems a lot of sugar! Let me know! Thanks!

  2. Humdinger's comment - added on 14th of December, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    The hard chocolate top is the original.

  3. benD's comment - added on 16th of December, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I grant you on first glance it does look a lot – and I always work in cups on this recipe, so I checked and the two cups of caster sugar that it uses weighs 450g!
    If you make it, let me know if you find it too sweet?

  4. Christine's comment - added on 17th of December, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Have just baked this cake – now I’m wondering if 450g sugar is too much as the outside is “crispy” – haven’t tried eating it yet as its still warm from baking. Also, the centre has sunk, so I don’t think I’ll be decorating it as a traditional Tunis Cake. I’m now considering cutting out the centre and turning it into a ring cake…..

  5. benD's comment - added on 18th of December, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    It is a fairly large cake and because of this needs to be cooked for much longer than a usual victoria-type sponge, cooked in two separate tins. That’s why the oven is lower than the usual 180°C and I recommend covering the top with foil if it’s browning too much – in fact once you get a clean skewer from the centre of the cake – you can turn of the oven and leave the cake in to ‘cook through’ for another 20mins or so.
    I promise you it does work – at least it always does for me!

  6. Susan kelham's comment - added on 23rd of December, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I have just made this recipe , but only put 250 of sugar. I checked another tunis cake recipe. It is cooking at the moment and looks wonderful. We always had a Tunis Cake on Christmas Eve when I was a child.

  7. Barry's comment - added on 23rd of April, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I also fondly remember Tunis cakes from childhood visits to my Grandmother and yesterday emailed McVities but got a “product discontinued I will try your recipe soon (yesterday I baked some mince pies which I have to eat first :-))
    Funny, both my Czech wife and a German friend hated the mince pies but then they also hate birthday cakes with icing – it’s an English thing I guess!

  8. lyssa's comment - added on 2nd of November, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Brilliant! This year is my first year taking over the Xmas meal completely from mum and the family rule is that its not Christmas if there’s no Tunis cake… Which is getting less and less available in shops and also the cake itself seems to get smaller and smaller.. so this will go down well.

    As for mince pies… They are just weird… My hubby is Albanian and loves his mince pies!

  9. Iris Watts's comment - added on 29th of November, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Glad McVities have stopped making Tunis Cakes,
    the last one I bought was HORRIBLE
    Decided to make my own this year hence my visit to your website
    Wish me luck, Iris

  10. Ann's comment - added on 23rd of December, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Tunis cake is easily got from bakeries in Cornwall. It is very popular in Cornwall, England.

  11. Trudy's comment - added on 22nd of October, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Hello, Can you please tell me if i make a tunis cake now, whats the best way to store it for Christmas

  12. Emma's comment - added on 9th of November, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I wanted to bake some for Xmas presents, how long will they last does anyone know??? X

  13. Kathy's comment - added on 7th of December, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Can I make it like the original topping ie with hard chocolate? If so how would I do this just melt some milk or plain chocolate?

  14. susan skipp's comment - added on 5th of December, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    hi can I buy a tunis cake already made

  15. Mo's comment - added on 20th of December, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I wish someone had come back and let us know how long this cake lasts for.

    I have made my madeira sponge and it is in the freezer, too much to do on Christmas Eve, and I will defrost and trim on Christmas Eve. As there is cream in the topping does it have to be kept in the fridge?

  16. Mo's comment - added on 20th of December, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I have made the madeira sponge and it is in the freezer at the moment ready for Christmas Eve when I will complete it.

    Can someone answer, how long does this cake last for?

    Do you have to keep it in the fridge as it has fresh cream in the topping?

  17. lyssa's comment - added on 24th of December, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Had a major panic as couldn’t find which book I wrote the recipe down in and then just saw my comment from 2 yrs ago so I now know this is indeed the right one, lol.

    The cake itself was brilliant and yes that is the right amount of sugar as the recipe makes a massive amount…. I actually make 2 cakes with it… But my chocolate topping just didn’t go right…. It was all grainy but I’ve done that topping before and it worked so I’m hoping it was just a fluke or maybe the wrong chocolate…. Will try again tonight…. My Tunis cakes are in the oven as we speak!

  18. Amanda's comment - added on 2nd of January, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I agree with Kathy, is there any way of making it with the original harder chocolate topping?