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Christmas cake or Christmas pudding? Both or neither? When someone offers you one of these it always seems to be a Marmite moment.
For those partial to fruit cake, this is an unguilty pleasure at this time of year, whilst those who recoil from the offering of fruit cake are often obliged to take a bite simply to satisfy the Christmas tradition.
More and more this year, recipes have strayed from traditional concoctions involving purely dried fruit and there is an increasing originality involving alternative fruits, icing and decorations. This creativity is beginning to filter through to the high street offerings, so here are Vada’s Top 5 Christmas Cakes – particularly useful if you haven’t had chance to buy yours already.
5. Heston from Waitrose – £20
The Heston from Waitrose range this year includes a richly indulgent chocolate and fruit Christmas cake filled with a white Belgian chocolate marzipan ganache and a chocolate and ginger sauce.
If that isn’t enough, Heston has decorated this offering with chocolate marzipan and edible decorations. We are always keen to see what the Heston range has to offer, and his focus on chocolate and ginger is a far cry from a traditional fruit cake.
4. Whole foods – £26
The Whole Foods Christmas Cake is made from a traditional fruit cake recipe, using the finest fruits and organic brandy. In comparison to the other Christmas cakes this is simply hand-decorated with a generous layer of marzipan and fondant icing with star detailing. If sticking with tradition is what you want to do, then this might be the cake for you.
3. Marks & Spencer – Penguin Party Cake – £20
Strictly speaking, this is a Madeira sponge cake rather than a fruit cake, but the creativity that M&S have employed in this year’s Christmas range has to be marvelled at. Their Penguin Party Cake is a hand-decorated snow scene and the sponge filled with buttercream, and hand-finished with soft and royal icing penguin decorations. With a final playful twist, once cut into, this cake reveals a hidden penguin face, which both kids and big kids will admire.
You can get the Marks & Spencer Penguin Party Cake online.
2. Fortnum & Mason – £49.95
This option is primarily targeted at London-based readers as at the date of publishing, it is too late for online orders in time for Christmas day (although you can still order online for a later delivery).
The Fortnum & Mason Christmas Fruit Cake is based on a rich fruit cake recipe incorporating tamarind and Fortnum’s Cognac. On top of the traditional marzipan layer, the cake is iced with a design incorporating three merry robins, red stockings and sprinkled snowflakes.
As one of the UK’s best-known premium brands (hence the highest price tag in our top 5), we have no qualms about the quality of this Christmas cake.
1. Soft Iced Star Christmas Cake in a Bettys Cake Tin – £38
Although not strictly on the ‘high-street’, this infamous Yorkshire-based bakery always warrants a visit and their Christmas cake equally justifies being tasted.
The Bettys recipe broadly follows a traditional fruit cake recipe and is decorated with a marzipan layer, and icing incorporating a star design in gold, green and burgundy.