Tunis Cake A Great British Christmas Tradition

I was at our local farm shop today and noticed that they had a Tunis Cake from a local artisan bakery. As I had family visiting in the afternoon I thought it would make a nice Christmas treat with a cup of tea mid afternoon.

Tunis Cake

 

I’m not sure why it is called a Tunis cake but it’s a British Christmas tradition now like Panettone is in Italy.  A Tunis cake is a Madeira sponge cake topped with a thick layer of chocolate and decorated with marzipan fruits.

 

 

Tunis Cake tunis-cake-3

 

If you are in Norfolk or Suffolk and able to get hold of a Tunis Cake from Wendy’s House Bakery then I can highly recommend it. The cake itself was light and moist and the chocolate topping was lovely and rich without being too sweet. I’m not sure my photo’s do it justice but it looked really lovely and my family and visitors really enjoyed it this afternoon.

The origins of the cake are Edwardian. Scottish bakery Macfarlane Langs produced commercial Tunis Cakes in the 1930s, and when they merged with McVitie & Price in 1948 to form a company called United Biscuits (which still owns the McVitie’s brand) the recipe passed to the new company. McVitie’s produced a Tunis cake until the mid 1980s. Members of my family can remember when they stopped producing these at the start of the second wold war and how pleased they were to see one again after the war.

The cake itself is thought to have been created out of post-WW1 austerity at a time when people wanted a traditional Christmas cake but could not obtain dried fruit. The Madeira sponge and rich chocolate topping were much easier to make from more readily available ingridents.

 

 

Mary Berry’s Tunis Cake Recipe

If you would like to make your own Tunis Cake then I can recommend Mary Berry’s Tunis Cake Recipe it’s a great alternative to a traditional Christmas Cake and really useful if you’ve run out of time to make your cake this year.

 

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Gluten, Dairy and refined sugar free minced pie recipe.

I’ve just come across this really clever recipe for mince pies that’s gluten free, dairy free and also free of refined sugars. For anyone who wants to know exactly what they are eating or who is trying to eat healthy then this looks like a great and simple recipe for Christmas minced pies.

I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but it all makes sense and should work well. I did just notice one possible small error in the video. You’ll see that flour is used to dust the board when rolling out. Be careful with that and make sure you use a flour you know to be gluten free. I’ll report back when I’ve tried this but would as ever be really interested in what you think.

You can find the full recipe over at the Deliciously Ella blog

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Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013 Booklet

I received a copy of Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013 Booklet at the weekend and it’s a really well put together free mini Christmas cookbook full of ideas.

Waitrose Christmas 2013 Harvest Booklet

Waitrose Christmas 2013 Harvest Booklet

The front cover reads “Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2013. Celebrate the very best of the season’s fruit and vegetables” and in the top righthand corner it says “32 festive recipes inside”.  Waitrose produce a number of leaflets, booklets and brochures each Christmas.  ‘Harvest’ is their monthly or b-monthly booklet or magazine looking at what great British foods are in season that month.

It’s a good quality and well put together little booklet and well worth getting your hands on for a copy.  The recipes include:

  • Festive Negroni
  • Spiced Christmas Cup
  • Cauliflower bhajis with raita
  • Mini welsh rarebits
  • Beetroot Croustades
  • Chicory Scoops
  • Iced Snowballs
  • Sweet Santa’s hats
  • Mixed mushrooms on toasted focaccia
  • Roast turkey with citrus & herb butter
  • Mixed vegetables & Nut Roast Loaf
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Honey Glazed Roast Carrots & Parsnips
  • Crunchy roast potatoes
  • Classic Brussels Sprouts
  • Apricot & Pecan stuffing balls
  • Creamy Bread Sauce
  • Easy Cranberry Sauce
  • Cranberry & Limoncello Semifreddo
  • Christmas Pudding
  • Root vegetable & Rice Galette
  • Beetroot & Cabbage slaw
  • Orange, onion & chicory salad
  • Mulled clementine jellies with chocolate ganache
  • Roasted butternut squash with lentils & sage
  • Carrot, cumin & beetroot crumble
  • Rib of beef with port jus
  • Roasted shallots
  • Port-braised spiced red cabbage
  • Pecan & bourbon tart

My husband particularly liked the look of the Pecan & bourbon tart so no doubt we’ll be trying that recipe soon.

 

 

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How to make Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries

I made my Cranberry Sauce last night. It’s really quick and easy and tastes a lot nicer than the sauce you buy in the shops. I thought I’d write this quick Cranberry Sauce Recipe up as a blog and add it to my Christmas Recipe Book.

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Are you ready for stir up Sunday?

For various reasons I knew I would be really busy this Christmas so I made my Christmas cake and Christmas Pudding back in October.  I’m slightly sad that I wont therefore be keeping up the tradition of Stir Up Sunday this year.
The season of Advent which is the time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas and the start of the liturgical year, begins on a different date each year.  Stir Up Sunday is traditionally on the Sunday before Advent Sunday which this year is  November 28, 2010, making tomorrow Stir Up Sunday.  If you haven’t made your Christmas Cake and Christmas Puddings yet then tomorrow would be a good day for it.  Many cooks would argue that a good pudding really needs longer to mature so every day counts now.

I love the idea that years ago, long before Christmas cards and decorations were on sale in the store in September, Stir Up Sunday was the start of the Christmas celebrations.  There is nothing like the smell of freshly grated nutmeg and spices in the kitchen followed by the smell of the cake cooking and the pudding bobbing about in the pan as they steam to really make it feel like Christmas.   I don’t know what the weather has been like where you live but here in Norfolk the fog has hardly lifted all day and I relish the thought of spending Sunday in a nice warm kitchen preparing for Christmas with the Archer omnibus on in the background.

My Christmas Pudding recipe is available here.

Whatever you are doing I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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