Christmas cake taste test: where to buy the best for 2019

Christmas cake taste test: where to buy the best for 2019
Bring out the best iced cakes to finish a spectacular festive feast Credit: Emli Bendixen 

This year's line-up of festive bakes ranges from intricate sculptural designs to booze-heavy layers, and there's fruit, nuts, citrus and spice galore.

Fans of dark, Christmas-pudding-like cakes are well served, as are those who like a strong hit of booze in their fruit. Some nail it better than others, so to selected the best for the Christmas table we tasted them side by side.

The sweetness shouldn't be too overpowering, nor the crumb too dry; the icing should be tempting and not troublesome to slice; and the scent that wafts from tumbling, glistening fruit should positively shout festive spirit. 

So which high-street offerings get the full five stars?

M&S The Collection Matured Rich Fruit 

£20 for 1.54kg

An alpine forest scene wraps around this cake, out of which tumbles a medley of vine fruit. Both icing and marzipan are smooth, while the crumb is dark, with a bitter bite. Try it with cheese.

SCORE: 3 out of 5 

Tesco Finest Rich Fruit 

£10 for 907g

Expect a powerful dose of cognac and brandy through the fruit, well balanced by sweet icing. The marzipan delivers a strong almond flavour to boot.

SCORE: 3 out of 5 

Bettys Soft Iced Star 

£30 for 1.5kg

Cutting through the firm icing reveals wonderfully thick marzipan and fruit with a marmalade scent. The texture is slightly pasty, but a good all-rounder.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 

Iceland Luxury 

£8 for 1kg

A really boozy one – great if you like a hefty kick of brandy. Heavily perfumed with spice, this makes a memorable finale for the big meal.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 

Co-op Shimmering Iced 

£7 for 907g, available in store 

Encasing a slightly pale crumb with nubbly fruit, this cake has a basic design that keeps things simple. The true-tasting almond marzipan leaves a warming note.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Iced Holly Wreath Iced

£10 for 900g

Citrus oil and peel are key here, and halved almonds add a good crunch.  This is a simple cake overall, but with a pleasing zestiness.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 5 

Aldi Specially Selected Luxury 

£11.99 for 1.5kg, available in store 

Smart and shimmering outside and chock-full of cherries inside, this  has a delicious combination of boozy,  dark fruit and nuts, finishing with  a slight bitterness.

SCORE: 4 out of 5 

Morrisons The Best Poinsettia Cake

£14 for 1.5kg

A spectacular centrepiece and   generous in size, too. A blast of orange zest in the fruity crumb makes this bright and zingy, cutting through the spice. Delicious.

SCORE: 4 out of 5 

Waitrose & Partners No 1 Richly Fruited

£16 for 1.3kg

Chic snowflakes decorate this moist, dark cake, which is packed with a serious amount of juicy fruit. Rich and dense, it’s a glorious celebration of festive flavours.

SCORE: 5 out of 5