Tunis Cake Recipe

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 Updated 28/07/2015

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It seems that Tunis cake is a somewhat of an enigma. Many people have fond memories of the cake from childhood but cannot quite remember what exactly it consisted of or where it came from. Well, to the best of my knowledge, it is in fact a creation by McVities from the 1970's and was offered as an alternative to the more traditional seasonal offerings such as Christmas pudding and Christmas cake. For whatever reason, McVities decided to discontinue the product a decade or so later. I have been told that Tunis cakes are available from the large supermarket chains in the U.K. at Christmastime, so if you keep your eyes peeled you may be in luck. Of course the best approach is to make your own and this recipe will hopefully satisfy your cravings!


  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 6oz butter, softened
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • juice and rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs

  • For the topping:
  • plenty of good quality chocolate
  • 6 marzipan fruits
(see measure conversions for more information on quantites)


  1. Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until pale.
  2. Add the eggs, flour, lemon juice, lemon rind and ground almonds, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Place the mixture into a 8in greased and floured cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees C. for one hour or until springy in the middle when pressed.
  4. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
  5. To decorate the cake, wrap some greased proof paper around the sides of the cake, standing proud of the top, securing this with a piece of string.
  6. Pour over the melted chocolate, when set remove the greaseproof and the chocolate shouldn't have run down the sides of the cake.
  7. There should be a good covering of chocolate on the cake.
  8. Once completely set, place the marzipan fruits on the top.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 portions


Hi, I remember Tunis Cake from the 1950's when it was already well established in family tradition. It was a madera cake, probably about 10inches across (by the 1970's it was getting smaller each year). It was topped with a layer of chocolate, slightly darker than milk chocolate, which levelled the surface. This was then decorated with a row each of pink and yellow icing in a scalloped, flute pattern. In the centre, in a ring of icing where 3 marzipan fruit. I remember orange, apple and pear but I suspect varied each year.
#22 - Ruth - 04/05/2017 - 11:24
I believe tunis cakes first appeared in the 30's and were made by macfarlane who later became mcVities.
#21 - Alison - 12/18/2015 - 11:53
I have been married over 60 years and I had my first taste of a Tunis cake in 1952 at my soon to be Mother-in-laws house and I have bought one every year that I have had Christmas in this country, they are not as good as they used to be, I am going to make one this year with lots of chocolate on top and marzipan fruits.

#20 - Phyl Carr - 11/15/2015 - 04:10
I too have missed buying a Christmas Tunis cake, and have for years made the same recipe handed down to me. Unfortunately I have mislaid the recipe so this year I am trying this recipe. If I don't my Daughter will throw a wobbler!!
#19 - helen tiller - 12/03/2013 - 04:09
Angie - not sure if it will work, but going to do mine this weekend, and I am going to try moulding my chocolate in grease proof paper in the bottom of the cake tin, letting it set and then adding to the cake with a little melted chocolate. Hopefully this will ensure a nice finish with no drips.
#18 - Jules - 12/17/2012 - 00:22
I purchased a Tesco Tunis Cake at Gaywood, King's Lynn this a.m., and they are also available at the Hardwick Store today.
#17 - t44bbc - 12/15/2012 - 06:18
I'm having great difficulty getting the chocolate to stay on the top of the cake it doesn't seem to matter how tight I tie the string it still seeps down the side of the cake. Any ideas????
#16 - Angie - 12/12/2012 - 22:28
HI, i wish to make a gluten free version of tunis cake. can anyone help,do i just replace the flour with a gluten free variety or do i need to add anything else to the cake ?? many thanks
#15 - kat - 11/18/2012 - 17:34
As my birthday is right before Christmas I have always had a Tunis cake as my birthday cake but have found both the Sainsbury's and Tesco ones disappointing, especially as they have ommitted the pink and yellow icing, which I prefer. I'm going to make my own from now on. Thankyou for the recipe
#14 - JeanHM - 01/12/2012 - 04:53
Like many of the others who have commented,I always use to have the McVities Tunis cake at Christmas time.Then we could not find it so had to resort to the Sainsburys Tunis,which is not as good.But for the last couple of years I have made my own using the above recipe,which is excellent,so thank you very much! P.S.
I find it a good idea to use a little apricot glaze over the top of the sponge before adding the melted dark chocolate.
#13 - dizzie - 12/18/2011 - 06:16
i also use to have tunis cake every year as a child.my grandad use to make it.since i married 30 years ago i make one every year.most of my kids friends had never heard of it but loved it.i have been a diagnosed coeliac for over 10 years so i adapted to gluten and wheat free recipe but now i have found out i am milk intolerant.does anyone know a decent chocolate i can use for the topping
#12 - linda - 12/12/2011 - 14:13
I work at sainsburys and i can tell you that its in stock in the Brighton store from the 7th of December, which is not a massive store so it is likely it will be in a store near you shortly
#11 - Carrie - 11/30/2011 - 14:01
Hi, I have been trying to find a Tunis cake to buy, I too use to have the McVities Tunis cake every Christmas when I was a child, and the same again they only sell them at Waitrose at selected stores too far away for me too!!
So I have decided to try your recipe, but I do have a question! The pink and yellow icing on the top is it buttercream icing or royal icing?? Thanks Lynn
#10 - Lynn Cooper - 11/28/2011 - 16:35
Delighted to know I'm not alone! Now in my sixties, these lovely cakes were always a feature of childhood Christmases as some people don't care for rich fruit cake. However, it has been increasingly difficut to find them since becoming an adult and even on the odd occasion the search has been successful the result has been dissapointing because the cake has dwindled dramatically in size (more like 6" than 8" as in this recipe) and drier than it should be. I look forward to baking this recipe as I have made them up from madeira cake recipes in the past and as far as I remember there is some icing on the chocolate topping besides the marzipan fruits, pink and yellow as I recall.

Thanks again for this recipe.

#9 - Margaret - 11/28/2011 - 14:29
Hi, I am going to try this recipe has I have been hunting high and low for the proper Tunis cake I remember from being a child, I do not know why the supermarkets are not selling these has they are in demand, Waitrose do sell them but only certain branches and its too far for me to travel but I have no idea whether they have the taste they should have!! Thanks for the recipe!!
#8 - lynn cooper - 11/27/2011 - 05:42
i had tunis cake when i was little as we dont eat xmas cake,my hubby is going to try and bake when this year,he has never heard of it.
#7 - jane kemp - 10/28/2011 - 07:30
thank you for this recipe we always had tunis cake when we were little, mum still buys one every year but she says its a bit dry so ill try and make her one when i go to see her thank you again sal
#6 - sally eltis - 02/03/2011 - 14:05
Like many others we have always had Tunis Cake at Christmas and spend lots of time looking for them. This year we found one from a well know "expensive" suopermarket but it was nothing like the real thing, a letter of complaint will be sent. Will now try to use your recipe for next year. Thank you
#5 - Ann Tilbey - 12/27/2010 - 02:59
Have always bought this as a birthday pressie for a friend whose birthday is on Christmas eve, love baking so this year I'm going to make him a Tunis cake & myself a gluten free version & decorate the chocolate with homemade marzipan Christmas shapes.Thank-you so much for this recipe!
#4 - Lynn Sim - 11/16/2010 - 11:38
Think it's part of a long tradition of marzipan fruits on Christmas Cakes or on Twelfth Night Cakes - the recipe is on our website at http://www.greenchronicle.com/christmas_recipes/twelfth_night_cake.htm - (which were highly decorated).
#3 - mary - 01/19/2010 - 10:25
I have been asked to make this cake with apple and pear aswell as the marzipan friut on top is this a variation of this recipe? I have not come across it with fruit on before
#2 - rosie ascott - 01/18/2010 - 11:24
Can't wait to make this. We always had a Tunis cake at Christmas when we were little. Now I can continue the tradition for my boys. Thanks
#1 - Sam - 12/20/2009 - 08:38
Thank-you for this lovely recipe .It is getting more & more difficult to find a good Tunis cake to buy, so from now on I'm going to make my own!!
#0 - Lynn Sim - 12/11/2009 - 12:42
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