Tunis Cake 2012

M&S, Tesco and Sainsbury's 2012 Tunis Cakes


With no sign of the magical McVities red box, the supermarkets are filling the Tunis Cake gap once more. 2012 sees offerings from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, M&S and Waitrose – all slightly different, but reassuringly familiar.

I decided to compare and contrast this year’s efforts.

Sadly, despite claims of offering theirs on in store patisserie counters, my local Waitrose drew a blank and my local Morrisons seemed to favour myriad fruit cakes over my beloved sponge-based Tunis, with their shelves bearing no festive fruits!

But with three own-brand beauties lined up, ready to face trial by cake fork , I had enough on my plate to form an opinion of whether McVities should get back in the round cake game.


Price:£7; Width: 14cm; Height: 6.2cm; Weight: 515g

Noticeably smaller than the other two with a very thin topping – at the centre of the cake it was only a couple of mms. The fact that this is the same price as the others, and from M&S makes the dryness of the cake and overall experience disappointing. Both this and the Tesco cake have individually moulded fruits, but this version’s are easily the best – should you be choosing your cake on its marzipan fruits alone!


Price: £7; Width: 16.2cm; Height: 7cm; Weight: 839g

Coming with a sprinkling of yellow sugar stars, these add a lovely sugary crunch to your mouthful of cake – reminiscent of the McVities classic. I loved the thickness of the topping – although some may find it on the thin side – and the flavour. There is a thin layer of apricot jam between the sponge and it’s crowning glory which adds to the Madeira flavour.


Price: £7; Width: 16.2cm; Height: 6.5cm; Weight: 870g

With the same width as the Tesco version, it makes you wonder if this was produced in the same factory? If they were they should have just stuck to the Tesco recipe! The cake was dry – despite having another two weeks until the stated best before date and the top, whilst crackable, could have done with some real chocolate in it to add some depth of flavour. The fruits on top are not individually produced merely stamped out of marzipan, which frankly is a let down.

Having munched my way through all three in the name of science, it’s clear that any Tunis Cake is better than no Tunis Cake – and thanks to the supermarkets all offering slightly different recipes you can tailor your Christmas cake choice to your own tastes.

But – after all that – it would be nice to have the choice of a McVities once more.

I think 2013’s New Year’s resolution may involve McVities and Tunis Cakes.

... and the winner is ... Tesco

8 comments on “Tunis Cake 2012”

  1. Pam Mason's comment - added on 18th of December, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve just had my first slice from this year’s M&S version. Found the madeira cake to be OK but the ‘chocolate’ topping was very disappointing. I still maintain that the Bakin’ Boys chocolate cupcakes are the closest to how McVities’ Tunis Cake’s chocolate topping was – there was a distinctive bite to it. The M&S version tasted sickly and was too soft/fondant in style.

    A couple of local Cornish bakeries have made Tunis cakes this year so I might carry on research into this subject by buying theirs too!

    Another year’s disappointment leaves me continuing to hope for the original McVities Tunis Cake to re-appear on our shelves one day (among other things, like world peace etc.)

  2. Nicola blake's comment - added on 24th of December, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Please mcvities bring this back, every year my husbands family fondly remember it & tell me that current versions are a very poor substitute.

  3. Pauline Sz's comment - added on 27th of December, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I have very fond memories of the McVities Tunis cake from my childhood. I bought a Tesco’s one this year – it was lovely! – and started wondering about the history and the name. In ‘googling’ I found your website. Thanks for doing the work for me and for your commitment to Tunis cake revival!! Hope you had a lovely Christmas. 🙂

  4. sue p's comment - added on 30th of December, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    My birthday is on 25th Dec and we traditionally had Tunis cake as a birthday cake and alternative to Christmas cake. My lovely daughter was unable to locate a Tunis cake this year and resorted to making me one which was lovely but I would love to share the McVitie’s one with a new generation.

  5. Reg Harman's comment - added on 15th of November, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Hi guys. I am 57yrs and I must be the oldest on here then because McVities ,although very, very good, does not compare to the original MacFarlane Lang of my childhood. I think McVities bought them out around 1964-ish?
    Having said that……. Come on McVities, bring it back please 🙂
    Reg .

  6. Reg's comment - added on 8th of December, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Further to my above comment……. I understand that McVities bought out MacFarlane Lang way back around 1948 ish? But that they continued with the MacF.Lang design until the early/mid sixties. It was the best without a doubt.

  7. Patricia Warren's comment - added on 8th of December, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Please help I live in South West Scotland trying to locate tunis cake can anyone help? I have this problem every year.daughter sent one ladt year.

  8. valerie's comment - added on 7th of August, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    a friend mentioned a Tunis cake last week, had to admit several of us hadn’t heard of it! however, curiosity got me googling and I found Mary Berry has a wonderful sounding recipe for it on the BBC website. I have copied it out and can’t wait to try it. Home made must surely be better than MV’s ………