Value for Money
Marks & Spencer Golden Snowflake
AVOCA €39.95 for 2.09kg
This is the priciest of the four. It tastes wonderfully home-made and lacks some of the elaborate icing found elsewhere, so you could convincingly claim it as your own handiwork if you don’t get around to making one. The ingredient list is very pure, which was another plus. The price is a minus, but if you like Christmas cake you will struggle to match this for quality in any other shop. There didn’t seem to be any alcohol in the mix, which was mildly disappointing.
Verdict: Deliciously dear.
Star rating: ****
M&S GOLDEN SNOWFLAKE CAKE €25.50 for 1.57kg
Very sweet and very rich. It has a good splash of brandy in the mix, which is nice, but the presence of five E numbers among the ingredients is not so good, and you wouldn’t be finding them in your homemade cakes. While on the subject of ingredients, it should be pointed out that one small slice – of less than 70g – contains nearly 250 calories, or more than 10 per cent of the daily allowance. Mind you, it’s not as if any of its rivals are lo-cal.
Verdict: Sweet and boozy.
Star rating: ***
TESCO FINEST €19.49 for 1.2kg
This is a very classy cake – in fact it might be a bit too classy. The icing fans out from the centre, where three balls of icing are to be found. It looks more like a tier of a wedding cake than a Christmas cake. It is made with oak-aged cognac – but only 2 per cent of the stuff, so we’re not sure why Tesco shouts so loudly about it. The glace cherries are considerably more prominent in the tested slice, which makes it incredibly sweet and very sticky. This has even more calories than the Marks & Spencer option: 260 calories (13 per cent of the daily allowance) are contained in a small slice. The cake is small too, although many Christmas cakes are too big.
Verdict: A bit fussy.
Star rating: **
ALDI €9.99 for 1kg
This cake from Aldi looks very festive. It is good value for money, and, if you want to make your treat table look seasonal without spending a fortune, then you can’t go far wrong with this. It is made with 3 per cent “French brandy”, although the alcohol doesn’t taste prominent in the mix. Nonetheless the cake tastes good. It is rich and fruity and not overpoweringly sweet. The icing, on the other hand, is probably a bit too sweet for all but the sweetest of teeth.
Verdict: Great value.
Star rating: ****