The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Tunis Cake

Friday 15th December 2017.

I must admit I hadn’t a clue what the origin of a Tunis Cake was.  Mary Berry had made one on one of her and Paul Hollywood’s original Great British Bake Off Masterclass programmes from a couple of years back.  I remember having a go at making one myself after seeing the pretty impressive chocolate topped almond  and lemon sponge which was finished off with marzipan holly leaves and berries.

The definition of a Tunis cake according to Wikipedia is that it’s “a madeira cake topped with a thick layer of chocolate and decorated with marzipan fruits,”  The origin of the cake dates back to Edwardian times.

I had been at work in the morning and was back home just after lunch time to get jobs done.  Not much had got done this week at home and don’t even ask about the Christmas shopping. But baking would relax me and I fancied baking a cake for my daughter coming home from uni the next day!

When I had my last go at baking the Tunis Cake I used the wrong size tin and therefore the cake was wider and shallower than it was meant to be.  Also, the icing didn’t look as neat as it should be.  Didn’t spoil the taste though!  Traditionally, the decorations are marzipan but I used sugar paste both times.  I needed to save the marzipan for our Christmas Cake!

First of all I started to bake the Madeira Sponge.  I love madeira sponges and this one is full of flavour from ground almonds and grated lemon zest.  All the ingredients were weighed out and mixed together in an all in one method.  The mixture was then put in the greased and lined deep cake tin.  While this was baking I made myself a well needed cup of tea and did the washing up!

The topping for the Tunis Cake is a very deep chocolate ganache.  I heated double cream in a small pan on the hob, then once it was starting to boil I took it off the heat and stirred in the chocolate pieces until they melted.  The ganache was left to cool a little and then poured on top of the cake still in the tin.  It was left in the tin until the chocolate was set. I was worried that the cake wouldn’t come out of the tin properly but it did.

The holly leaves were made simply by using ready made and coloured sugar paste.  I had a holly cutter and put the veins on the leaves using  a mini roller. I also rolled mini red balls for the berries.

Before the cake completely set, I arranged the holly leaves in a wreath pattern around the edge of the cake.  I didn’t dare eat a piece there and then but by the following lunchtime I caved in and ate a piece instead of eating a healthy lunch.  Too much temptation. Over the next few days the cake got eaten.  It’s definitely one you would have as an alternative to Christmas Cake or pudding if you’re not a great dried fruit lover.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cranberry and Marzipan Cake from The Great British Bake Off Everyday.

Christmas and the New Year seems such a long time ago now that I’m back at work in school.  Out are all the unhealthy foods and I’m on a mission to shed a few unwanted pounds in the next few months.  But before I signed up to the Hairy Bikers’ Diet Club online I had been baking like mad throughout the festive season.  Last Monday, the first day back at work was a school training day.  Usually if we are in school everyone brings in some food to share, as a cake baker I usually bring in a cake and other treats.  Some years it can be leftover Christmas cake but my hubby insisted we kept it.  So out came the scales and the mixing bowl once more.

I chose to bake the Cranberry and Marizpan Cake from The Great British Bake Off Everyday. published last August to accompany the fourth series to the show. It is described as “a pretty red-flecked golden sponge, rich with seasonal flavours-cranberries, nuts and marzipan- this makes a lighter alternative to a traditional fruit cake or, served warm with ice cream or custard”  It seemed such a perfect way to use up the marzipan and some cranberries I had lurking in my baking cupboard.

I found my springform tin, which unfortunately is a bit bigger than the one suggested in the recipe book, it’s 23cm instead of 20cm in diameter.  My cake would be wider and shallower then but I hoped it would still taste fine.

Here’s how I got on:

I creamed butter and sugar together using my hand held mixer.
Little blobs of marzipan were added to the mixture and then beat in with the butter and sugar.
After this I added the eggs to the mixture, beating them in carefully and followed this by folding in some ground almonds.
In another bowl I sifted together plain flour and baking powder. This was then added to the other bowl.
The final ingredient to be added was the cranberries. The recipe called for frozen or fresh cranberries. Mine were Ocean Spray dried ones so I was hoping they would bake in the same way as the other types.
The cranberries looked pretty against the pale colour of the mixture, like red jewels. The mixture was spread carefully in the prepared tin.
To top the cake I had some toasted flaked almonds. They were left over from my trifle I usually make on Boking Day.
The toasted almonds were sprinkled on top of the unbaked cake.
After about 45 minutes in the oven, this is what the Cranberry and Marzipan cake looked like. Golden on top and dusted with icing sugar.
This cake was perfect with a steaming cup of coffee. Although it wasn’t as deep as I hoped it would be, it still tasted delicious.

I would definitely bake this cake again next Christmas as it was so easy to put together.  It was ideal to use up leftover bits and pieces.  I bet it would be great to experiment with different dried fruit and marzipan and maybe even other nuts. I’ll let you know if I do!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special- Mary Berry’s Tunis Cake.

As I type, it’s now December 30th. the rain is lashing against the windows and it feels decidedly un- Christmassy. I’m catching up on all the blog posts and getting up to date.  It’s been great to veg out at home and I’m now feeling totally relaxed.  I won’t be saying that this time next week when I’m back at work and the kids are back at school.  My hubby has had some time off over Christmas but he has been nipping into work to see things tick over.  So, for me it’s time to catch up on the blog.

One of my favourite bakes this year just has to be this gorgeous Tunis Cake which Mary Berry baked on the Great British Bake Off Christmas Special from a couple of weeks back.  Not only did it look simple to make, it looked pretty impressive and would be a fantastic pudding or cake for someone who doesn’t like lots of dried fruit.  My children don’t like fruit cake or Christmas pudding so it would be perfect for them.  I had never heard of a Tunis Cake before so it was great to try something new to me, although it is said they originate from Edwardian times according to Wikipedia!

Here is a link to the original recipe on the Great British Bake Off website.

All the ingredients were chucked together in the KitchenAid; flour, butter, sugar, eggs and ground almonds.

The Tunis cake followed an all in one method and included ground almonds which gave the cake a lovely moist texture.  It took no time at all to prepare in my trusty KitchenAid.  I like cakes that do this, saves a great deal of time not faffing about!

Mixing all the ingredients together.
My large springform cake tin was greased and lined.
The mixture was put in the tin and then went straight into the oven for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile I heated up some double cream to make the ganache. When the cream had heated up and I’d taken it off the heat I added some plain chocolate.

For the ganache you needed 400g plain chocolate. I used some 70% cocoa solids Swiss chocolate from Tesco which was the cheapest good quality chocolate I could find.  I’ve used it in lots of different recipes before and it always works out well.

Making some holly sugarpaste leaves. I added the veining in by using my mini wheel, Scoring the paste with a small knife works well, too.

In the recipe Mary uses marzipan coloured with food colouring for her holly leaves but I couldn’t be bothered to get my food colourings out and mess about with the marzipan.  I needed to keep some back for using in stollen (which in the end I never got round to making, but that’s another story).  I had a special Christmas Cake Decorating pack from Renshaw Icing which contained five different coloured packs of their Christmas colours.  The green one was perfect for the holly leaves so out it came!  The red berries were made from some leftover icing (also Renshaw but coloured the previous week) when I was baking Christmas cookies with the children I work with in school.

The finished cake.

The cake turned out completely different to the way it looked on the programme.  My cake looked a lot wider and shallower and I obviously in a rush had baked the cake in the wrong tin.  Also, being as Mary’s cake was a lot deeper, she made the ganache go halfway down the side of the cake.  As my cake was a lot shallower I couldn’t do that without making a mess so I just put the ganache on the top of it.  The holly leaves were put on a bit haphazardly but I thought the cake still turned out well.

Next time I think I’ll use smaller holly leaves as these swamped the cake a bit. It would have been nicer if they had looked like they were in a wreath.
A slice cut for Sunday lunch dessert. Great with a dollop of cream after our Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding.

All of my family really enjoyed the cake and it didn’t last long enough til Christmas Day. I had to make another Christmas Pudding alternative instead.

I was so glad that Mary featured this recipe on the Great British Bake Off.  Looking through Facebook and Twitter just after the programme was on, it seemed like lots of us cake bakers were keen to try the Tunis Cake.  If you baked it, what did you think?  I’d love to know.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx