CHRISTMAS cake, it’s a bit of a crumbly conundrum. Where can you get the best in Sheffield?
Where in the pantheon of rich Christmas treats does it fit? At what time of what day do we eat it?
Though it’s one of the best things about Christmas to many it’s often the thing that people remember sometime between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve because it’s still in the cupboard un-noticed and unopened.
A quick poll of people around here doesn’t help much either.
No-one has a traditional etiquette to say whewe should eat Christmas cake so just eat it when you feel like it or when the rest of the gut-busting goodies have gone down a bit.
Boxing Day afternoon with a film and a cup of tea sounds about right to Jim Wilson, our nominated Christmas Cake Taste Team leader.
We cheated a little and tried smaller portion fruit cakes from supermarkets and Staniforths bakery that wasn’t strictly Christmas cake, though a couple of them were wrapped in festive packaging.
Here’s what we thought
Staniforth’s: This one you pick your portion size. Normally around £3.99 - works out at £7.35 per kilo. This was, despite argument and wildly differing opinion, our overall favourite. Moist and lemony with lots of fruit and a richness that set it above the rest for most of us. Thick marzipan that was also tasty and with a good layer of icing.
Asda: £2.00 Moist and with a molasses-y, dark brown sugar flavour. Not overpacked with fruit but good nonetheless - unless you don’t like that dark richness that the molasses flavour brings. Marzipan good and icing adequate.
Sainsbury: £1.25 Half price offer. One of the best-looking cakes, the best priced and a good all-rounder. Nicely moist and fruity with a flavour that had something of everything you expect in a Christmas cake but not too much of any of them. Solid and reliable, your mother-in-law wouldn’t complain.
Morrisons Savers £1.50: Unfortunately the worst of the bunch. Cheap but not very cheerful. Slightly dry and with sparse fruit it was not a magical moment for any of us though it made the others taste a lot better.
Mr Kipling: £1.99 for six
From bad to as-bad. These pre-packed slices were like something from a 1970s canteen vending machine sampled when boredom overcomes wisdom on a long night shift. No discernable flavour other than SWEET! Not a favourite with anyone.
Tesco slices: £2.25 for six. Like the Mr Kiplings they come in a box ready sliced and wrapped but they did offer slightly more flavour and texture than the Kipling variety. The kind of thing you might get while visiting a relative in an old people’s home to ‘save the mess of cutting a proper cake’.
We left the last word to Jim Wilson who went solo on his first choice along with Staniforth’s queen of the cakes.
“I liked the Asda one,” said Jim.
“It tasted a little like Bonfire Toffee. It was moist and fruity with just a hint of a more molasses type flavour than the others.
“I also like the Staniforth’s one which had a nice cirtussy zing that marked it out from the rest. The Sainsbury’s one was good too. I’d have no problem with good slice or two of that on Boxing Day.”