Time for Elevenses: childhood memories of cake and company

For today’s elevenses we hear from Love Your Neighbour pair Ann and Adele, about baking memories from their childhoods.

Love Your Neighbour brings older and younger neighbours together to share time one-to-one on a regular basis, helping them to get to know each other and, ultimately, build a friendship. Ann and Adele were introduced in February, and enjoy sharing stories and having a laugh together. 

Ann remembers looking forward to Friday afternoons, when her uncle would cycle down to their house, bearing a gift of iced buns.

“I’m not sure why he did it - I think Friday must have been his payday. He used to buy them from a bakery near to where he worked, and there was always the same lady who used to serve the buns. We called her the bun lady - she was always standing over a tray of chelsea buns! I saw her years later, walking along the road, and called out: ‘Have you got any buns for me today?’. That made her laugh!”

Adele meanwhile reminisces about her Grandma’s tasty cake creations

“My Grandma loved baking. Her bakes were always delicious, but they weren't always what she'd intended to make! Scones were her forte but sometimes they were more like rock-cakes. She also made killer birthday cakes - I'll never forget the sunflower cake she made for my eighth birthday, or the enormous bright-red guitar, complete with strings, which she made for my brother's eighteenth.”

Ann’s memories of cake are also interweaved with her time working in the food hall of a department store on Charing Cross Road.

“At Christmas there was a special type of fruitcake that the shop got in, called a Tunis cake. If you wanted to order one, you had to add your name to a waiting list. They were always in demand, as the shop could only order a small number. The Tunis cake was delicious - it had a thick layer of chocolate on top, and marzipan.”

Although traditionally baked an alternative to Christmas cake, this cake is so delectable that we think that there’s no excuse not to bake it year-round!

Today’s recipe is taken from the queen of cakes, Mary Berry.

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Tunis Cake


For the cake:

225g softened butter

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

70g ground almonds

4 large eggs

finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

For the topping:

300ml double cream

400g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces

200g natural marzipan

red food paste colouring

green food paste colouring


1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.  Grease and line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Measure the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a palette knife or spatula.

3. Bake for 45 minutes, cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and cook for a further 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

4. Pour the cream into a small pan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. When cool but not setting pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled cake and put aside to set.

5. To decorate, colour 175g of the marzipan with green food colouring to turn it the colour of holly leaves.  Using a holly leaf shaped cutter, cut out 20 holly leaves. Mark the veins with a knife and lay over a rolling pin and leave to dry. Colour the remaining marzipan with the red food colouring and roll into 30 ‘berry’ size balls.  Leave to dry.

6. To serve,  remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer. Arrange the holly leaves and berries in a wreath around the edge of the cake.

Helena Kipling

Posted by Helena Kipling on Tuesday 28th March 2017

Helena the Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator at North London Cares.

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