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.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Cognac laced
Looks A satisfyingly chunky, crunchy-looking texture. Taste Deliciously nutty with a hint of alcohol; would have you going back for more.
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.
Tesco Finest Luxury Pudding
Looks Like a sticky, nutty fruit bowl. Taste Lovely textured pudding. Could do with a touch more alcohol.
Waitrose Remy Martin
Looks Treacly, rich and rustic looking. Taste Lots of yummy brandy; a proper farmhouse-kitchen Christmas pudding
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.
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
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
Waitrose and major retail stores. Looks A cross between porridge and cake. Taste Quite a sharp almond and brandy flavour.
£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.
www.village-bakery.com – 01768 898437
Looks Moist but a bit spongy,more like a cake – Taste Subtle, perhaps a bit too subtle.
Looks Golden colour, but not enough bits – Taste A bit odd. Eccentric, with overtones of mace or nutmeg.
Old Fashioned Christmas Pudding
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
Looks A bit soggy, but with a light texture. Taste Packs a surprise punch, but not too sure about the aftertaste.
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
Preparation time: 5 minutes
175g Country Life Block Butter, at room temperature
175g Silver Spoon Light Brown Soft Sugar
4-5 tbsp Somerset five-year-old Cider Brandy
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