It’s not all marzipan and candied peel, you know…
It’s always the last thing on the table; forlorn-looking, decidedly uneaten and largely left to dry up. The most traditional of festive edibles – the Christmas cake – is often overlooked in our house, perhaps because we’re often too full to fit any more in. However, I believe the honest truth is that there are far tastier treats to enjoy than a fruit cake covered in plain white icing. This year I plan to restore the humble Christmas cake to pride of place; and there are a whole host of options out there to elevate it to talk of the table. You don’t even have to go for the traditional fruit cake!
Here are my top ten choices for a snazzy, jazzy, alternative cake this Christmas.
One For the Kids
Marks and Spencer has really pushed the boat out with this super-cute, wintery Madeira sponge cake with buttercream and raspberry jam. It’s almost too good to eat. But you can guarantee the kids will love this snowy scene, complete with polar bears and penguins, and it’ll inject a little fun into the usual Christmas spread.
Marks and Spencer: £25
For a Christmas Party
Christmas cupcakes are perfect for a big gathering. Not only can you eat them standing up but you can have a variety of flavours to cater to all your guests’ needs. These jolly-ol’-cakes will certainly brighten up a Christmas feast and as they’re from the Hummingbird Bakery you just know they will taste divine.
Hummingbird Bakery: 12 for £25
The Celebrity Cake
So this is actually a pudding but it deserves to be on the list. Heston’s Christmas pudding is already of legendary status – and with good reason. No dry, crumbly slices here, this is a succulent and moist cake with a candied clementine nestled in the centre. One bite and you’ll be clamouring for more.
A Little Glamour
Forget fruit cake; I challenge anyone to pass up the chance to place this lemon and cinnamon roulade centre stage. Perfect for posh-dos, this is one of Maison Blanc’s delectable Christmas treats – biscuit cuillére sponge and a light lemon cream, smothered with a white chocolate and cinnamon glaze and (most importantly) the decorations are entirely edible.
Maison Blanc: £15.99 (six portions) and £21.99 (ten portions)
Organic and Fruity
Homemade on Daylesford’s own farm, this Christmas cake is perfect for an organic, down-to-earth Christmas. If you’re watching your carbon footprint and prefer something a little more natural than brightly coloured iced cakes, the Daylesford fruit-and-nut-topped Christmas cake makes a grand focal point. Packed with sweet, moist fruits steeped in organic brandy, it’s lip-smackingly good.
Daylesford Organic Farm: £22.99
Konditor & Cook’s Festive Whiskey Bomb is the ultimate adults’ Christmas dream. With icing resembling soft chocolate velvet, draped a little drunkenly and surrounded with marzipan holly, just looking at this cake will have your dinner guests drooling. This chocolate and orange sponge cake with whiskey ganache and chocolate marzipan covering is what I call the bees knees!
Konditor & Cook: £35
Chocolate Lover’s Historic Torte
Break the mould. If you really don’t like Christmas cake, make this scrumptious chocolate and walnut cake your Yuletide centrepiece. The walnuts keep the Christmas theme close but this delectable cake has been made to an 18th-Century recipe closely guarded by Fortnum’s. It’ll keep history buffs happy and the classic tin will make for a pretty ornament before and after Christmas day.
Fortnum and Mason: £35
When you know you’re not going to have enough room for a full slice of Christmas cake after the marathon that is Christmas dinner, it might be worth whipping out these quirky Christmas cake-pops from Molly Bakes. These morsels are just the right size for you to enjoy with some mulled wine while curled up on the sofa watching The Snowman.
Molly Bakes: From £2.50 per cake-pop
Christmas Dinner – Round Two
Just can’t get enough of Christmas dinner? How about a Christmas cake that looks just like your main course? Jane Asher’s enormous turkey-shaped super-sponge has all the trimmings: sprouts, potatoes, cranberry sauce and pigs in blankets, all made of cake and icing. If you need to feed 50 people or more, and have oodles of cash, this is a Christmas cake that will go down in history.
Jane Asher: £495 (subject to specifications)
Let’s face it, there are those who really have a savoury tooth and refuse even a whiff of Christmas cake. This year, serve them their very own ‘Christmas cake cheese’. Apples, cinnamon and raisin-infused cheese from The Cheese Place is great ‘cake substitute’.
The Cheese Place: £4.50