Tunis Cake 2013
It’s that time of year when the cake lover’s mind turns to all things Tunis. When scouring the supermarket shelves for that seemingly endangered species of chocolate-topped madeira becomes second nature.
Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have all dipped their toes into the Tunis Cake waters this year – and whilst I doff my cap to any supermarket who keeps the red box flame burning, some do it better than others.
My yardstick for this year’s efforts is the same as always – The McVities Tunis Cake (RIP). Let the comparisons begin…
The first question you’ll ask yourself when looking at this year’s Tesco offering is ‘Isn’t that smaller than last year’s?’
And the answer is ‘Yes’ – at nearly 2cm smaller and 1.5cm shorter the answer is a very loud and shouty ‘Yes, yes it is’
I questioned a member of Tesco’s food buying team about this and this is the answer they gave:
“We had feedback from the customers who wanted a smaller product.”
I’m sure this isn’t the official Tesco line and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for being caught on the spot, but I’m pretty sure not one person, when asked the question ‘Would you like to pay the same price for a smaller cake?’ would answer yes!
The cake itself is the same as last year, with a slightly thinner chocolate layer – and the divisive crunchy stars remain – I like them, but I know some don’t. The sponge is good, not too dry but firm enough to slice cleanly.
Last year this was my favourite, but now there’s not enough cake for my cash.
So Tesco have made the cake smaller, kept the same recipe and the same price – just to please their customers and it has nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with profit.
A touch smaller than last year’s affair, it still has M&S written all over it – again the fruits are beautifully done and the icing is a softer fondant, rather than a hard chocolate. It is pretty much the same as last year, made for people who don’t really know what a Tunis Cake is and who trust M&S to deliver.
Knowing how much effort, time and money they put into developing their products, I can’t help but feel disappointed with the cake they ended up putting on the shelf.
The only cake to seemingly have gone up in the size this year (and price – up 50 pence), a tad higher and a touch heavier, I’m sure that’s down to the chocolate layer alone. Easily the thickest of all toppings, and the one with the highest propensity to crack like the fabled McVities cakes of yesteryear. The cake underneath is a solid affair and although not quite as moist as the competition, it goes well with the icing.
The marzipan fruits are easily the worst of this year’s efforts and are the only thing to grace the shiny disc of chocolate – but the starkness, simplicity and size of this cake make you love it more.
Available from the bakery counters in some of their larger stores, this year’s effort from Waitrose is an entirely new recipe, apparently. The needn’t of bothered. At only 14cm wide it is second only to M&S in diameter and a whole 30% shorter in stature. The oversized marzipan fruits and opulent splashes of gold powder do not hide the fact that this isn’t really a Tunis Cake. It’s thin covering of icing is the softest fondant you’ll find, and the sponge is way too soft for most Tunis Cake fans.