Christmas cakes, bakes and desserts – tested by Ruby Bhogal

<span>Photograph: Perou/The Observer</span>
Photograph: Perou/The Observer

Asda Extra Special brown butter and rum mince pies

£2.75 for 6,

I love pastry and this has a generous amount. Oh, that smells strong – I think the booze has hijacked the mincemeat.


M&S Collections chocolate and hazelnut mince pies

£4 for 4, Marks & Spencer

Mincemeat at the bottom, a thick layer of chocolate, nuts on top. They’re salted, a nice relief. Oh my God, it is a lot. I love it! Not what I know as a mince pie but delicious.

Co-op Irresistible black forest mince pies

£2.65 for 4,

Cream-topped pies. That’s new. This mincemeat is more curranty. It’s quite red; is it a cherry? I love cherry. When you get that little pop of cherry, it’s quite nice.

Morrisons The Best tiramisu tarts

£2.50 for 4,

Another creamy top, but it’s smooth inside. Oh God, what is that?! Is there cake in there? No. Absolute no. That is not good. Get lost.
No stars

Morrisons free-from festive crumble mince pies

£2.25 for 4,

I like how the pastry is crunchy. Mince pies are the only thing my mother used to bake. So this tastes like my childhood. Not special, but special because of that.

Waitrose free-from trifle tarts

£3.15 for 2,

It looks really appealing. The top layer is some kind of ganache; pretty heavy. It’s nice. For a vegan, GF product, that’s a solid dessert. I couldn’t eat a lot.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference free-from sticky toffee tarts

£3.25 for 4,

Looks really good – butterscotch with some nuts. It smells amazing. It’s very sweet, but nicely salted. Rich and indulgent. I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Asda Plant Based OMV! crumble top mince pies

£2 for 4,

Anything crumble-topped is a win. This smells traditional. There’s a buttery, floury mouthfeel I’m not keen on, and I’m not too sure what the aftertaste is. If someone gave it to me, I’d still eat it.

Waitrose cinnamon bunettone

£8, 500g,

It smells nice. It’s very spongy. Oh, it’s a very satisfying squish. It’s very soft so it’s very moreish. It’s a bit tangy, whatever the filling is. If it was plain in the middle, I’d go to town on that. But I’m not mad on it.

Waitrose No1 florentine-inspired panettone

£6, 750g,

It reminds me of a jaffa cake, and I love jaffa cake. I can taste peel; it is quite bitter, which is a lovely relief to all that chocolate on top. I’d happily eat a slice of that.

Morrisons The Best tiramisu panettone

£7.50, 750g,

There’s some gooey stuff in there. I quite like a drier panettone dough if there is a filling. Is this tiramisu flavour? Objectively, if you like tiramisu or espresso martinis, you’ll give that four stars.

Marks & Spencer trifle caked alaska

£12.50, 750g, Marks & Spencer

Looks fun. There’s quite a bit going on in the middle: raspberries, ice-cream obviously, soft sponge. That is giving me a massive hit of nostalgia; really old-school tasting.

Tesco Finest winter orange cheesecake

£10, 650g,

Edible glitter makes it Christmas. I love a cheesecake. Is it orange? Nice, refreshing, zesty, but quite sweet. The ginger base makes it feel more Christmassy. I love that ginger base – it really makes it.

Asda Extra Special black forest yule log


This looks like it is a black forest number. That cherry tastes on the verge of synthetic. I feel like if someone served me that, they wouldn’t like me.

Marks & Spencer snowy winter yule log

£15, 850g, Marks & Spencer

This sponge is unbelievably soft. Chiffon-sponge soft and it’s lovely. The filling is passionfruit? It is very sweet. I’d prefer it without the white ganache. I’m surprised at the quality of that sponge, I love it.

Baked Both Ways by Ruby Bhogal will be published in May 2024 (Pavilion, £26). All items blind-tested