At the end of what is possibly the biggest meal of the year, it’s traditional to serve Christmas pudding. It’s one of those things you either love or hate, but because no Christmas lunch would be complete without it, the Country Life team heroically ate their way through a blind tasting of 16 puddings to help you choose the perfect one for the day.

The Winner

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Cognac laced

£6.59, 454g

Looks A satisfyingly chunky, crunchy-looking texture. Taste Deliciously nutty with a hint of alcohol; would have you going back for more.

other finalist

Fortnum & Mason

St James’ Pudding £16.95, 907g

www.fortnumandmason.com; 0845 300 1707

Looks A perfect balance between chunky and smooth. Taste The ideal amount of alcohol and real candied fruit, yum.

Semi-finalists

Tesco Finest Luxury Pudding

£10.99, 907g

Looks Like a sticky, nutty fruit bowl. Taste Lovely textured pudding. Could do with a touch more alcohol.

Waitrose Remy Martin

£6.99, 454g

Looks Treacly, rich and rustic looking. Taste Lots of yummy brandy; a proper farmhouse-kitchen Christmas pudding

Quarter finalists

The Dukeshill

£16.95, 1kg

www.dukeshill.co.uk; 0845 331 2516

Looks Soft and melt-in-the-mouth Taste Not a very strong flavour, but light and tasty.

Lewis & Cooper

£5.10, 450g – 01609 772880

Looks A large amount of fruit, lovely colour. Taste More like Christmas cake than pudding, but good aftertaste.

Matthew Walker

£7.99, 454g

www.matthewwalkerchristmas- puddings.com; 0844 800 4677

Looks A very small amount in the bowl, but like a proper Christmas pudding. Taste Yummy, despite its appearance.

Wilkin & Sons

£12.99, 908g

Exclusively at Sainsbury’s or www.tiptree.com; 01621 817313

Looks Beautifully presented and has lots of fruit. Taste Good; quite chewy with a satisfying flavour.

The other contenders

Duchy Originals

£6.50, 454g

Waitrose and major retail stores. Looks A cross between porridge and cake. Taste Quite a sharp almond and brandy flavour.

Harrods Ultimate

£15.95, 806g Mail order only: 020?7225 5894

Looks A bit slimy, but very dark and quite promising? Taste ?but no! Very strong alcoholic taste.

Village Bakery

£6.99, 450g

www.village-bakery.com – 01768 898437

Looks Moist but a bit spongy,more like a cake – Taste Subtle, perhaps a bit too subtle.

Carved Angel

£16, 680g

www.thecarvedangel.com

01822 835020

Looks Golden colour, but not enough bits – Taste A bit odd. Eccentric, with overtones of mace or nutmeg.

Old Fashioned Christmas Pudding

£6.50, 550g

www.oldfashionedpuddings.co.uk – 01733 246272

Looks Very pale and crumbly, a bit like muesli. Taste Very healthy but why have healthy on Christmas day

Marks & Spencer

£4.99, 454g

Looks A bit soggy, but with a light texture. Taste Packs a surprise punch, but not too sure about the aftertaste.

Daylesford Organic

£10.95, 454g

www.daylesfordorganic.com

0800 083 1233

Looks Butterscotchy colour, slightly too soft texture.Taste Rather a lot of alcohol, with some crunchy nuts.

English Brandy Butter (courtesy of our namesake – but no relation – Country Life Butter

Serves: 8

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

175g Country Life Block Butter, at room temperature

175g Silver Spoon Light Brown Soft Sugar

4-5 tbsp Somerset five-year-old Cider Brandy

Method

1. Place the butter and sugar in a medium size bowl and whisk together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the cider brandy a little at a time, beating well after each addition

2. Place in a container and chill

3. Delicious served over hot mince pies or Christmas pudding