Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas pudding reviews

I have a confession – I don’t like Christmas cakes and Christmas pudding, don’t like any heavy fruit cakes for that matter. As any good baker, I decided the only way to change it is to make my own Christmas cake, which I have done for the last couple of years. Some of them turned out better than others, but I am more pleased with them than shop-bought ones.

This year my mother in law, Mrs Ranty Senior is making us a Christmas pudding and bringing it over all the way from NZ. She is a very good baker, and I am sure her pudding is going to be amazing, and it removes any fruit cake baking responsibilities from me this year. I am still going to be doing Christmas baking this year – Gingerbread house and Christmas Panetonne, but more on that in later posts.

If I WAS baking my own cake, I would be buying a lot of booze – brandy and port – to “feed” my cake. But seeing as I am skipping on the baking, I shall STILL be buying the alcohol but for my personal consumption :)
With all that in mind, Mr Ranty Man (aka Mr Messy Baker) had a brilliant idea – we should buy a whole load of Christmas puddings, try them all, rate them all and choose the best one. Now you see why I married him!!

The rules are :
-          It has to be a traditional Christmas pudding – no chocolate or mint or any other rubbish
-          It has to be a supermarket-own brand (a few exceptions might sneak in)
-          It has to be cooked according to manufacturer instructions (in a microwave, who has hours to steam it?)
-          It has to be served the same way – warm, with custard

So, here it is ….

Christmas pudding “Christmas” by Sainsbury’s
Price : £3.00
Weight: 450g
Score : 3/10
 






 
The pudding is quite rich in sultanas (33%), with a handful of raisins (2%). I could see mixed peel, but couldn’t taste it. There are no nuts in that pudding, which makes the texture very gloopy and bland – its definitely missing a bit of a crunch, something to add to the texture.
The pudding is overwhelmingly sweet – two hours later I could still taste the sugar on my teeth! I had to load up my plate with custard to take away the sugar-ness of the pudding. The actual crumb is quite light and orange-y in colour, very stodgy in texture.

 
Overall notes: don’t bother

This is what Mr Ranty Man came back home with - we have our work cut out for us!!
 

 





“Snowy Lodge” 6 month matured Christmas pudding
Price : £2.99
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 7/10
 The pudding is less fruity than the previous one – only 27% fruit, but a good mix of sultanas, raisins, currants and glace cherries. It also has big chunks of nuts – almonds and walnuts that create great texture as well as adding to the overall look of the pudding.
It has a healthy 13% of booze in it – a combination of cider sherry, brandy and rum. The alcohol flavour is very pleasant and leaves a lovely lingering taste in your mouth.
The crumb is dark red, and the darker the better in my books when it comes to puddings.
The only shortcomings I would think of is the texture and spice ratio – the texture is very soft, doesn’t hold well, it pretty much crumbled when we tried cutting it; and it could do with a touch more spice, it’s a bit on the bland side
Overall notes: great value for money

 
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Orange & Cranberry Christmas Pudding
Price : £14.00 (currently half price at £7.00)
Weigh: 900g (serves 8)
Score : 5/10
Now, if you like your puddings on a boozy side, this is a pudding for you – this pudding would make Mary Berry very happy J It has an astounding 17% of alcohol in it, combination of stout, orange liqueur, cognac and sherry
It is a VERY chunky pudding – containing whole fruit (29%) and whole nuts (6%), as well as some marmalade (10%) that give it an intense orange flavour. I could appreciate the flavour a bit more if it wasn’t for all that booze in it, it borders on being unpleasant (and normally I am not the one to complain about too much booze – that’s how bad it it).
I can’t say much about the crumb – its very glue-like in texture, and its rather orange in colour, but it holds the pudding together very well.
I would not call it a pudding, its fruit and nut mix stuck together with orange glue.
Overal notes: buy it if you are an alcoholic



Aldi Specially Selected 12 months matured Luxury Christmas Pudding
Price : £6.99
Weigh: 750g (serves 6)
Score : 4/10
 What I do like about the pudding is the colour, is has a very deep dark colour, I would say down to Demerara sugar and molasses. The molasses flavour is quite strong, leaves almost an artificial taste in my mouth.
The texture is okay – a few nuts, a few fruits, but nothing special, even though it claims to have over 30% of fruit.
The actual flavour is very unremarkable, you can’t taste the booze or spices or fruits. I had to taste it again the next morning just to remind myself what it was like, and it was just as dull the day after
Overall notes: Ed Miliband of the pudding world – boring


 
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Cognac Laced Christmas Pudding 6 month matured
Price : £12.00
Weigh: 900g (serves 8)
Score : 6/10
The pudding is absolutely crammed with nuts, big BIG chunks of nuts and its well fruity with fruit making up nearly a third of its weight.
Don’t get too excited about the actual flavour though – its not boozy enough (“sprinkled” with cognac rather than “laced”, more of “sprinkled”), its not dark enough (very light brown colour), its not spicy enough, its just not good enough.
The best thing about the pudding it is texture, it holds well, it soft without being glue-like, its what pudding texture should be.
Overall notes: Taste is okay, but poor value for money

 

M&S Intensely Fruity Black Forrest Christmas Pudding
Price : £14.00
Weigh: 907g (serves 8)
Score : 7/10
            9/10 (for chocolate lovers)
Now, this pudding only JUST made it through, according to the strict pudding criteria we set at the beginning of the tasting. For start, it has chocolate – CHOCOLATE!! In a Christmas pudding!! Now, it could be a good thing of a bad thing, depending whether you are a fan of chocolate or not. As you might have guessed, I am not a fan of chocolate, so that’s taken away a point from the score for me.
Another score point was lost due to cherries – don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cherries, but I have a thing against any kind of fruit and chocolate in the same dish – weird, I know, but that’s me.
As for the actual pudding notes – it lives up to its name, it has a very intense fruit flavour – fruit make up 50% of the total weight! Hard to determine booze percentage, its only about 10% of the actual alcohol mix, but some of the fruit has been soaked in brandy and kirsch.
The texture is lovely and moist – cherry sauce is adding a great flavour – and nuts and chocolates add a slight crunch, which is a nice touch.  
Hard to judge the spice level, as cherry flavour is incredibly strong, overpowering everything else, but other than that its pretty much a perfect pudding.
Overall notes: Perfect pudding for chocolate lovers
 
 
Mr Ranty is addicted - he just cannot stop buying puddings - I am going to be much heavier and more ... well, pudding shaped, by the time we are finished with this 

 

Aldi Specially Selected Champagne Christmas Pudding
Price : £9.99
Weigh: 907g (serves 8)
Score : 9/10

Now, the first think I have to say about this pudding, that its GOLD – yes, you heard me correctly, a gold Christmas pudding. Everything about it gold – the box is gold, its covered in golden (or “blond” as the box says) cherries and golden almonds and it even comes with a bag of edible gold. I imagine it’d be a best-seller in Essex J
Other than that, it’s a bloody good pudding - its rich in fruit (45%) without being too heavy, almonds and pecans (8%) have been lightly roasted, which makes a real difference – the flavour really stands out. Its one of less boozy puddings we tried so far, with alcohol making up only around 10% of the total weight -I get subtle notes of champagne and it really makes a difference.
The crumb is a deep brown colour, the colour mainly coming from the fruit rather than molasses or any other flavourings.
Its is a winner so far!!
Overall notes: If it wasn’t for the naff presentation, it would have been perfect

Tesco Finest 6 Month Matured Cherry Topped Christmas Pudding With Courvoisier Cognac
Price : £6.40
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 8/10
 
This is a very good little pud – full of fruit and chunks of nuts with an intense colour and a nice long finish. Its well fruity, with 30% of the usual fruit mix as well as nearly 25% of cherries in it (on top as well as in the pudding).
The cognac flavour is quite pronounced, without being overpowering. The spice mix on this pudding is one of the best one yet, and you can really appreciate it, as its less sweet than your standard Christmas pudding, which makes a real winner in my books.
Which is why the texture of this pudding is really disappointing, its quite sticky and gluppy, and sticks to your teeth and not In a good way.
If you can look past that, it’s a lovely tasting pudding
Overall notes: a surprisingly good pudding and good value for money

 
Asda Chosen By You Christmas Pudding
Price : £2.00
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 1/10
DO NOT BOTHER! I was actually considering giving it a 0 out of 10 – this is the first pudding we didn’t finish, and threw the rest out. Its rubbery, its greasy, its sickly sweet, with the cheapest fruit you can buy. I can’t even be bothered looking up the content of the pudding, but if I did, it would say something like that : 99% shit, 1% preservatives
Overall notes: the worst of the worst

 
Snowy Lodge Cherry and Pecan Topped Christmas Pudding
Price : £9.99
Weigh: 907g (serves 8)
Score : 4/10
This is a good looking pudding, deep dark, almost black colour, with glistening red cherries on top and covered in marmalade orange slices.
But that’s about all its got going for it – the cherries are very sweet and compete with the overall sweetness of the pudding. Not sure what is the point of these orange slices other than the look – they taste of absolutely nothing, which could also be said about the pudding itself. Its sticky sugary sweet, with no distinguishing taste – no strong booze flavour, no spice flavour, nothing remarkable
Overall notes: All looks and no substance

 
Duchy Originals by Waitrose Organic Christmas Pudding
Price : £8.00
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 7/10
This pudding has the most unusual smell – burn caramel, almost molasses-like, a bit too strong for my liking, I actually thought we over-cooked it.
The actual pudding is quite nice – good colour (molasses), good texture (good amount of breadcrumbs), good amount of fruit (36%) and nuts (walnuts) –  but it just doesn’t come together. All the individual ingredients look good and sound good, but something is missing, something that brings it together – and I think it might be the booze.
It’s one of the less alcoholic puddings we have tried so far – only 5% of cognac, and it really shows. A good pudding should have a good whack of booze in it, and without it, its just a funny shaped brownie.
Overall notes: lacking in oomph

 
M&S Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding
Price : £7.00
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 8/10
Ahhh, its definitely the booze that was missing from the last pudding – this one does have a good doze of it (15%) – not overpowering, its just the right mix. The pudding definitely lives up to its name – its properly fruity – 43% of sultanas, raisins and currents as well brandy soaked glace cherries and chillean flame raisins (another 9%) – fruit soaked in booze – you can’t go wrong.
The only reason the pudding doesn’t come up higher on the pud chain is the sugar content and the texture. I guess you can’t have all that fruit without the pudding bordering on being too sweet, and there is just a little bit too many bread crumbs for me, but other than that it’s a great little pud.
Overall notes: one for fruit lovers

 
Waitrose Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding
Price : £5.00
Weigh: 454g (serves 4)
Score : 4/10

This is Waitrose trying to do budget, and they don’t do it well. Waitrose is all about name and quality – this one has the name, but of a very poor quality.
The colour is wrong – orange with dark spots – whatever they are. The texture is wrong – it has single cream in it – it has no place in it. The taste is all wrong – % of palm oil outweighs % of breadcrumbs , which is never a good thing.
Overall notes: shit quality with a good name

 
Asda Extra Special Champagne Glitter Topped Christmas Pudding
Price : £10.00
Weigh: 907g (serves 6)
Score : 3/10
The only good thing about this pudding it’s the looks – golden almond and cherries, with silvery sparkly powder on top.
The first listed ingredient in this pudding is demerera sugar, followed by glace cherries  - now that just tells you everything you need to know. It lacks in colour, taste, texture, fruit and nut – and what else is left I ask you? I don’t know where they get off calling it champagne pudding, when champagne only makes up 4% of the weight – they should call is Special Greasy pudding, cause it feels like grease is the main ingredient in the pudding. Its been two days and I can still taste the grease – yuck!!
Overall notes: shite with sparkles on top

 

 

 

2 comments:

  1. hahaha, i saw this on TFL and couldn't resist coming over to take a look. I must say you're very brave, for a non-Christmas pudding lover to take on such a gargantuan task! I don't know if I envy you your task - that's a lot of puddings!! - but it is making me nostalgic for fruitcakes and puddings. Yule logs just aren't the same...sigh. Good luck! I like the sound of the M&S one!

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  2. Nearly got my wires crossed - TFL is Transport for London in my head :)

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