Christmas Cake
(from the UK )

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Tunis Cake is an alternative Christmas cake with a Madeira/Sponge base and covered in Chocolate! We always had one in my house when I was growing up (in the 80s). They were originally produced by McVities in the UK in the 1950s but became less popular over time (I don't know why - they're really yummy!). You can still sometimes find them in odd shops, but they're hard to find.

This is the original recipe, created by Elizabeth Ewing of Inverness who created the cake in 1949. It's reproduced with the kind permission of Patricia Smith from her website. It's called a Tunis cake, because Elizabeth Ewing's husband (who was a baker at McVities) tried something similar in Tunisia, where he was stationed during WWII.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

Metric

  • 250g Butter, softened
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 175g Self Raising Flour
  • 150g Plain/AP Flour
  • A small pinch of Table Salt
  • Rind of One Orange Grated
  • 2 tablespoons of Orange Juice

Imperial / American

  • 9oz Butter, softened
  • 9oz Caster Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 6oz Self Raising Flour
  • 5oz Plain/AP Flour
  • A small pinch of Table Salt
  • Rind of One Orange Grated
  • 2 tablespoons of Orange Juice

For the Chocolate Topping:

Metric

  • 150g Very good quality Dark Chocolate
  • 40g Butter
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of warm water

Imperial / American

  • 5oz Very good quality Dark Chocolate
  • 1.5 oz Butter
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of warm water

For the Buttercream Icing:

Metric

  • 50g Icing/Powder, sifted
  • 25g Butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons of Orange Juice
  • Yellow Food coloring

Imperial / American

  • 2oz Icing/Powder, sifted
  • 1oz Butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons of Orange Juice
  • Yellow Food coloring

Method

Cream the Butter and Caster Sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the Eggs individually and with each Egg add one tablespoon of each kind of Flour, and beat well.

Fold in using a metal spoon the remaining flours, salt and orange rind and juice. Pour the mixture in to a buttered and baking parchment lined deep 20cm cake tin. Smooth the top carefully.

Bake at 170C (please note that if using a Fan Oven reduce temperature to between 140C and 150C) for one-and-a-half hours until golden in color and a skewer test comes out clean.

Cool cake for a minimum of 10 minutes before removing it from the tin and cool completely for a minimum of 10 hours.

Chocolate Topping

Melt the chocolate, which should be broken into small pieces, with the Butter and water by placing it all in a bowl over a pan of very hot water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the hot/boiling water in the pan below or it will go lumpy!) Leave for about 10 minutes, beat and stir until smooth.

Leave to cool.

Decorating the Cake

Secure a double thickness sheet of greaseproof paper around the cooled cake so that it comes at least 2 inches/6cm about the top of the cake.

Pour the cooked chocolate over the top of the cake; smoothing it very carefully (don't rush this) and leave to set for at least 12 hours.

Then remove the paper carefully.

To make the buttercream, mix together the icing/powdered sugar, butter, orange juice and yellow food Coloring until smooth.

Using a piping bag with a small star nozzle, pipe a small circle of buttercream in the middle of the cake, then two more circles equally spaced around it.

If you want to be extra fancy, you can make half of the buttercream pink using red food coloring and have the inner circle yellow and the outer circle pink!

Tunis cakes also originally had a small apple, orange and banana made of marizpan in the center of the decoration instead of the circle of buttercream.