26 December 2006

Merry Fruitcake day

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. My family had a fruitcake-filled one. With seven fruitcakes in the freezer, someone had to eat them all.

First, the Swiss Colony and Wisconsin Cheeseman fruitcakes were discarded without further ado. One has only so many calories at their disposal during the holiday season, and one musn't waste them on bad fruitcake.

I assembled the equivalent of a cheese platter with fruitcake: picture above. So if you want to see what a slice of each fruitcake looks like, here they are. From left to right, Claxton Light, Claxton Dark, Collin Street, Harry and David, and Holy Cross Abbey. Gethsemani Farms was not included because everyone in the family has their own half-cake sitting at home, courtesy of my mom, who orders them for us each year.

The family's opinions of the cakes varied widely. Surprisingly, the Holy Cross didn't get the rave reviews I was expecting (it being so similar to Gethsemani). I think rather the family tried the other ones to get a flavor for the non-Trappist type cakes.

Reviews were mixed, but most of these fruitcakes were appreciated for what they were. Some liked the citrusy flavor of the Claxton light fruitcake; others really enjoyed the distinct, almost gingerbread-like flavor of the Harry and David. The Collins Street cake was complimented on its strong pecan flavor.

The cake that ranked lowest on the family list? Claxton Dark, of all things. They liked the molasses flavor but felt it was just too "raisiny," without other fruit flavors.

Finally, for those of you who just received a fruitcake and really don't want it, there is a fruitcake Safe Haven. Please take advantage of it.

22 December 2006

Come waste your time with me!

Just what you need at the holiday season is a place to waste time. And I'm here to help! Advertising Age has listed this blog as number three on its 10 Great Time-Wasting Websites. Though personally, I recommend number one, Will it Blend?

And with great humility I admit that I hadn't figured out how to moderate comments until this morning. Thanks, everyone who has posted, for great comments containing a lot of wisdom, and also a lot of (sigh) fruitcake websites. At least I know what I'll be doing in 2007 (and 2008) . . . eating more fruitcake.

16 December 2006

Ain’t Nothin’ like the Real Thing

My boss is from England and makes Christmas cake (fruitcake for us here Americans). I’ve heard of the wonders of home-made fruitcake, and this one leaves no doubt in my mind that care, good ingredients and a good recipe lead to a delicious cake.

The Boss macerates his fruit (cherries, lemon and orange peel, currants, yellow and black raisins) in red wine first. After making the cake, he soaks it in Kentucky bourbon. The taste is actually much like the Gethsemani Farms fruitcake; they also include wine in the recipe and soak in bourbon. His cake has a much more grapey fruit flavor because of the raisins. There are NO NUTS in his recipe, which obviously affects the flavor but doesn’t detract in any way. (By the way, his theory on turnips is that they add moisture to the finished cake, which sounds plausible to me—though we agree, we still don’t want ‘em in our cake).

So what’s the white stuff on the top? It’s a very hard icing, like a fondant, concealing beneath it a thin layer of marzipan, to gild the lily. The boss “refreshes” the cake with bourbon before serving.

This is a delicious cake (and I’m not just saying that ‘cause he’s my Boss). It’s moist and boozy, and the texture is lovely—with the fruit being relatively small, it cuts nicely. The icing adds a touch of traditional sweetness, while the marzipan a lovely almond flavor. This cake absolutely eats like a meal—one slice and you’re done. But it’s a delicious slice of decadent winter richness the whole way down.

This is the one cake on this site so far that you CAN’T purchase. But you can probably find some good recipes for Christmas cake and make your own. A slice of this cake certainly inspires me to try to make one myself next year.

. . . but then, who would review all those other fruitcakes out there?

Swiss Colony has great customer service

I learned this inadvertently by sending a nastygram to what I thought was an autosubscribe e-mail address. A few months ago, I had subscribed to Swiss Colony's I love fruitcake e-mail subscription service, which up until recently had sent me nothing (no responses to my e-mail to the Friendly Fruitcake Expert, either. He may know fruitcake, but he's none too friendly). So as I unsubscribed, I wrote an e-mail back that I normally wouldn't write: "Your fruitcake is crap." If I had known I was writing to customer service, I would have caged this terse yet accurate assessment in more polite language.

In any case, a short time later I received an e-mail from Swiss Colony's customer service department telling me that they were crediting my account by the cost of the fruitcake (less shipping, I think).

So thanks, Swiss Colony--I still think your fruitcake is crap, but I must admit I've had a fascination from childhood with your gift baskets.

13 December 2006

Welcome to Mondo Fruitcake!

Welcome to the small, decidedly carb-heavy land of fruitcake lovers! This blog was created to review all the fruitcakes out there that seem to be giving fruitcake a bad name--as well as to find the fruitcakes that are actually good--swell, even.

I've ranked all the fruitcakes I've reviewed so far and put links to those reviews in the sidebar. You can get to a company's website by clicking on the review title once you've selected one.

So check your fruitcake ridicule at the door and enjoy the reviews. I eat them all so you don't have to.

12 December 2006

Review: Harry and David 2-pound Traditional Fruitcake

I would call this one "fruitcake for beginners."

The reason is that the cake itself doesn't exactly taste like fruitcake. The fruit includes cherries, raisins, pineapple, orange and lemon peel (and turmeric, son of a gun). I see the ingredient quality goes downhill from there: partially hydrogenated shortening, propylene glycol, mono and diesters of fats and fatty acids? Yikes. There are so many brackets in these ingredients, I'm not sure if that's just a subset of some other ingredient. But what makes this one quite different tasting are the spices: they use cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and molasses. The fruit is cut quite small so there's an even texture, not huge lumps of fruit, and the overall flavor of the cake itself is almost more like a gingerbread than a traditional fruitcake.

This cake--which I actually went to a store to purchase($29.95) includes molasses so has that richer, darker flavor, though it is alcohol-free. It comes in a really adorable tin (they also have a smaller 1-pound fruitcake for $19.95 without the tin), very nice for giving. The garnish fruit on top actually taste different than any others I've had--these really taste candy-like, almost like colored licorice or a jujube.

I've been sorely disappointed with the mass-produced fruitcakes out there--those fruitcakes shipped out by those traditional places one goes to to order fruit, meat, and food baskets for the holidays. So if you wish to send a fruitcake to someone you love (and bully for you!!), I'd say the rule of thumb is: monasteries first; dedicated fruitcake bakeries second; and finally, if you're going to use any of the big food basket places, try this fruitcake.

More Turnip

This is so NOT the world's finest fruitcake. Who would, honestly, order fruitcake from the Wisconsin Cheeseman? I advise against it.

I received the 20 oz. loaf after paying $29.95, about 8 dollars shipping and handling.

Well, to make a long story short, this is the same turnip-laden cake I got from Swiss Colony. I compared ingredients and although the order might be slightly different between the two, the general contents, down to turnips and turmeric, are identical. Upon further perusal, I see that both companies "distribute" these cakes, don't necessarily make them. As to who actually DOES make the cakes, the Wisconsin Cheeseman customer service department could not respond.

So if you want to know how it tasted, see this review here. And don't buy this cake. There are much better ones out there.

20 November 2006

'Tis the gladsome fruitcake season!

How quickly it arrives! Here we are, the week before Thanksgiving, when people's thoughts are on food of all kinds but especially the fruitcake. I suppose now I'm going to be competing for the attentions of the fruitcake manufacturers--those who would have been so surprised by my orders back in July, why, now, I'm just another customer to them.

I'll try to get to at least one more fruitcake--I'm thinking the Wisconsin Cheeseman, because up in these here parts of the Midwest it's the time of year to do your volume food buying from the cheese and sausage companies, some of which also sell fruitcake. I tremble in anticipation of the tubers I might find in their recipe.

There are a few other fruitcakes I found by some alternative searching on the web (i.e., stumbling upon them). I truly doubt I will get to them this holiday season--well, there's always next year. I'll include their links in another post.

04 November 2006

Review: Claxton Fruit Cake, Light and Dark

The latest fruitcake hails from Claxton, Georgia. Claxton has two types of fruitcakes, the light and the dark. I ordered one of each. (photo to the right shows both boxes--the one on top has a little disclaimer on the photo of the fruitcake saying something to the effect of "this is a photo of the light one--the box really contains the dark one")

The Claxton bakery has an interesting story—founded by an Italian immigrant, and brought to its current level of success by an employee that started working at the bakery when he was fourteen. The cake is shipped with a brochure telling the whole story, which can also be found here, so on to a review of the cake.

The 2-pound fruitcake is $16.95. I ordered one each, light and dark, which came to $33.90 (free shipping!). This cake is distinctive because of its loaf shape; all of the previous cakes have been round (although the Swiss Colony ones were small loaves, the normal size Christmas fruitcake is shipped as a round cake). If you peruse the story in the brochure or website, you’ll see that the fruitcake is baked in very large, wide pans that look like they contain about 10 pounds worth of cake. Those cakes are then sliced into smaller loaves. From a manufacturing standpoint it’s a great idea; I imagine it speeds up the production process. It was a little weird, though, because one of my cakes was the end piece, so had a red waxed paper pan liner on three sides, while the other was the middle section, so it only had the paper on the two ends. You do get the impression of this being a “manufactured” cake.

As for the cakes themselves: both of the cakes have basically good ingredients, except for high fructose corn syrup. Of course there are some preservatives and food coloring, but there are no root vegetables. Both of these cakes contain orange peel, and both also contain almonds, where most of the other cakes contain walnuts and/or pecans. Pecans do figure into these but are much further down on the list, and it is reflected in the flavor of the cakes. (photo to the right shows the dark fruitcake on top, lighter on bottom)

Many of the cakes reviewed here are full of fruit (hence the term “fruitcake”), but the Claxton fruitcake is definitely for those who like fruit and nut in their cakes. The fruit was large and the batter really served as a binder to keep the cake together. Some of the other cakes recommend that you cut the cake while cold but allow it to warm up to enhance the flavors. The Claxton bakery recommends that you serve the cake cold, with which I agree, because as it warms up it begins to fall apart due to the large pieces of fruit and nuts in the batter. It’s almost like candy.

You can smell and taste the orange peel in both cakes, which also contain raisins, pineapple, and cherries. The almonds add a lot of bite but not a whole lot of flavor. As a result, there is more of a fruity, candy-like flavor to these cakes compared to the nuttier flavor of those that contain pecans and walnuts.
The light cake contains artificial rum flavor, but I didn’t taste it at all. The dark cake contained molasses, spices, and dark raisins, which gave it that deeper flavor to which I’m partial. Both had a very rich flavor and a good texture due to the almonds. I prefer the flavor of pecans, walnuts, and booze, but if you don’t, I would highly recommend these for more of a fruity, sweet and rich flavor.

23 October 2006

Review: Swiss Colony Fruit Cake Medley

The Swiss Colony Fruit Cake Medley consists of three different variations on fruitcake: the Butter Rum fruitcake, the Macadamia Nut fruitcake, and the Original fruitcake. The set of three, half-pound fruitcakes costs $30.95, $41.18 including shipping for me. This puts these fruitcakes into the pricier range, but if you purchase just one type—the traditional, for example—the prices are competitive, with 1.25 pound fruitcakes starting at about $19. Shown at right, left to right: butter rum, macadamia nut, traditional.

The ingredients for these cakes are the poorest of any I’ve reviewed so far, with many surprising entries that lead me to believe these recipes have been touched by food technologists. The most bizarre ingredient by far: turnips. Both the butter rum and the original have turnips in them. And to think people are afraid of citron.

Additional ingredients that make me sad are things like corn syrup, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, and turmeric. Turmeric is just weird—I’m guessing for color or possibly preservative properties. I did actually e-mail the Friendly Fruitcake Expert for some explanation for these unlikely ingredients, but so far, no word. To the good, the butter rum cake did feature butter quite high up on the list. The macadamia nut cake had (one would hope) macadamia nuts, but also included apricot kernels, I’m guessing to give it a bit of an almond flavor, which it did have. The original fruitcake, being a darker, more traditional fruitcake, had brown sugar, butter, and citron on its list—the other two were citron-free, focusing more on cherries and pineapple (and turnip).

As for flavor: eh. The butter rum had a sweet, pineapple upside-down cake and cherry flavor. There is actually rum in the butter rum, which does give it a bit of depth of flavor, but it’s very faint.

The macadamia nut cake is tasty and reminds me of the pineapple cakes that I’ve sometimes had from Chinese or Taiwanese bakeries. The dough is very un-fruitcake like; instead, it’s more like shortbread, very light in color and crumbly. The cake has got an almond, syrupy, fruity flavor, and the macadamia nuts give it a nice nutty flavor and bite. This is a good tasting cake, but it really isn’t a traditional fruitcake.

The traditional fruitcake uses smaller chunks of fruit than those in the butter rum. Walnuts and pecans both appear higher in the ingredients list here and are noticeable—you can smell and taste the nuts. There is a sweet caramel scent to this cake, more of that praline or burnt sugar flavor, probably from the brown sugar in the ingredients. However, the flavor in general resembles that of a light fruitcake rather than the dark, liquor-infused cakes. I wonder, frankly, how much turnip I taste.

The presentation of these three fruitcakes was mighty cute, I have to say. These definitely had brighter color fruit and batter than the monastery fruitcakes, but were not as intensely pecan-filled as the Collins Street fruitcake. I’d choose the macadamia nut cake as something different, but the other two were pretty mediocre—once again, I can see where people get their biased opinions of fruitcake. For the quality of ingredients I’m getting, I’d prefer to spend my turnips on something other than turnips.

Cryer Creek = Collin Street

I recently received a brochure from Cryer Creek Kitchens. With angst I turned the page to see that they, also have a fruitcake. Really, people, this is a fruitcake blog and all, but fruitcake is kind of RICH and I already have a long list to cover before the holidays are upon us. Now another one was on my doorstep?

I learned upon further perusal that Cryer Creek Kitchens is another brand of Collin Street, whose fruitcake I reviewed here. Ever the investigative reporter, I got positive confirmation from their customer service that "The Fruitcake is the same, as they are prepared at the same Bakery." (capitalizations theirs)

I don't understand why they have two different brands--customer service didn't go into that. They seem to have quite an overlap between products, and I'm assuming much if not all is prepared at Collin Street. I'm not a marketing person, so I won't presume to guess. But rest assured, people, that you need not purchase one fruitcake from both places. They are Both from the Same Place.

P.S. I received the Swiss Colony fruitcakes, and I'm so surprised and excited to share the unusual ingredients I found in them--they're good, and good FOR you!! Review to come soon.

17 October 2006

Gee, I wasn't the first person to have a fruitcake blog

Imagine that (jaded sigh, insouciant drag from a long dangling cigarette, bored look), I wasn't the first to come up with something. I am the queen of mediocrity, it seems. Another fruitcake blog exists and existed before me. And it actually is pretty good--I learned a thing or two, particularly the idea that there are two main types of fruitcake (see link below).

The Fruitcake Zone: What Exactly Are We Talking About?

Having known this before, perhaps I would have given the Collin Street fruitcake a better review. Or maybe not. Perhaps I'm just not as keen on the lighter type of fruitcake.

I'm definitely learning more about fruitcakes as I try each one. In hindsight, although the Collin street cake is still not my favorite, it still is a very nice cake made with ingredients that are (mostly) of fine quality.

16 October 2006

To all you future postal workers out there--be nice to fruitcake lovers!!

Don't mess with the generosity of fruitcake makers. Read about Lucille Greene, who attempted to sue a post office for an employee being "less than courteous" to her as she attempted to mail fruitcakes. Even the lowly fruitcake has fallen victim to the heightened security after 9/11. Not sure how long this will be posted on the Internet, but do things ever really die on the Web?

09 October 2006

They love fruitcake!!

Next fruitcake(s) on the agenda are The Swiss Colony. They own the URL Ilovefruitcake.com. When I googled fruitcake, that site came up as a Google ad. I clicked it and got a page not found error. I think this does not bode well for their fruitcake. Still, the site is cute, although very small. They have a few t-shirts, some kind of group you can sign up for (I just did, but have no clue what I'll be getting), and even an "ask the fruitcake expert" link. I'll need to try that, because the "expert" runs the bakery there so, if he (Art Barsch) indeed is who he is described as being, he could give some great information on the fruitcake creation process.

I ordered the fruitcake medley, which includes three different types of fruitcakes: the original, macadamia nut, and Butter Rum. It does not include the chocolate fruitcake. The idea of a chocolate fruitcake turns my stomach, but I will reserve judgement until such time that I actually get to taste it--after all, how does that differ from the Fraters that I was so interested in trying?

21 September 2006

An article about Gethsemani farms fruitcake

It seems this fruitcake was voted "best overall" by Wall Street Journal back in 1998. I haven't been able to find the original article yet, but here is an interesting article from Keeneland race course in Lexington on how the fruitcake is made. Here's another one.

20 September 2006

Death of a fruitcake lover

L. William "Bill" McNutt Jr. of Collin Street Bakery passed away on 1 September. For some reason, it was not reported in the Chicago Tribune until 17 September. Hmm. The family wanted to prevent a deluge of press? In any case, Bill McNutt was the president of Collin Street Bakery from 1967 and 1998. During that time he vastly expanded what used to be a simple bakery, focusing on mail-order fruitcakes and improving sales by creating a database and using technology to build his sales. I reviewed the Collin Street fruitcake a while ago. It wasn't the most glowing review, but I certainly won't amend it to not speak ill of the dead--after all, Mr. McNutt was not his fruitcake. I will admit that although not to my taste, it was not a literally inedible fruitcake. If you're into sweet pecan flavor, that is your cake. By the way, I learned in the Chicago Tribune article that the fruitcake is sent out in the traditional cowboy tin around the holidays. Not sure if I want to verify that--I'll have to take their word on it.

I'm not sure whether to thank Mr McNutt for expanding the love of fruitcake throughout the world or possibly for creating a good portion of the disdain toward fruitcakes. In either case, he most probably raised fruitcake awareness--whether good or ill.

26 August 2006

Review: Monastery Fruit Cake, Holy Cross Abbey

The Trappists must compare fruitcake recipes. This fruitcake bears a very close resemblance to that of Gethsemani Farms.

The two pound, four-ounce fruitcake cost $27.95 with shipping. Its looks are average, and the tin is also attractive but nothing too fancy.

Ingredients include cherries, pineapple, walnuts, raisins, dates, pecans, papaya, orange and lemon peels for nuts and fruit, as well as honey, brandy and “Sherry Wine.” There are some partially hydrogenated oils towards the end of the list, as well as some standard preservatives.

The cake itself smells of fruit. It is dense, with the batter serving to bind the ingredients together. One can definitely taste the alcohol, or perhaps I should say the memory of alcohol—the brandy and sherry make the taste of this cake more complex. In contrast to the Gethsemani cake, which uses red wine and whiskey, the brandy and sherry make the cake a bit sweeter. I also notice a more pronounced caramel, almost burnt flavor—perhaps the cake was a bit overcooked.

My mother and sister, both aficionados of the Gethsemani fruitcake, tried this one as well. They felt that this cake looked “more homemade” than other fruitcakes and that the fruit in it is cut more finely than the Gethsemani cake. After multiple slices (ergh) we still found ourselves returning to the Gethsemani cake; the batter seemed a bit lighter and had better flavor. That being said, my Mom asked if I could get her a catalog for this abbey; she might send this instead of Gethsemani this Christmas for a change of pace. In conclusion, this cake is a nice find with a similar, complex flavor to the Gethsemani cake. I am intrigued by another product the Abbey offers called “Fraters.” They are slices of their fruitcake dipped in dark chocolate. I think it sounds delicious. My sister and Mom both think it sounds like stuffing a turkey with a chicken—just too much. I’ll have to try those when cooler weather sets in.
The Our Lady of Holy Cross Abbey also sells creamed honey and truffles, neither of which I've tried, so can't speak for them.

03 August 2006

It's July, it's 97 degrees and humid in Chicago--What comes to mind?

. . . fruitcake, of course. The next foray into the wonderful world of, is with another abbey, the Holy Cross Abbey. So it's a holy fruitcake battle between two abbeys of the same order: Trappists. Who will win?

23 June 2006

Not exactly fruitcake, but of the same family

I'm traveling in Zurich (or do you say Zürich) right now, and when wandering through their vast underground shopping mall near the train station I came upon a shop that sells a lovely little cookie from nearby that is fruitcake-esque. It's called a leckerli (or läckerli, again, if you're into umlauts), and it's from Basel.

Many different parts of Germany and German-speaking Europe have spicy little cookie or cake type things (lebkuchen, pfeffernusse, etc), and this is one of them. I'll claim that they're related to fruitcakes (and thus deserve mention here) in that they contain honey and preserved fruits as well as nuts and Kirsch (cherry liqueur? How did they do that? I don't taste it).

Many people might find them to be sort of depressing little squares of chewy dough, but I love them--I find the chewiness lovely, as well as the rich scent and flavor of honey, much more complex than just plain ol' sugar.

I had first discovered them in the closet of the house where I stayed when I was a fille au pair in France. The parents were divorced but the mom was from Basel and must have left the cookies behind as part of the settlement. There they remained in the closet for the entire 6 months I lived there--a bit lighter by the end, however, as I continued to sneak into the bag to steal a couple now and then. That being said, I can attest that they keep forever (or at least 6 months).

I'm bringing home a small bag, because (sigh) once again, I'm one of the few who actually like them--so no one to share them with. For the sake of my fat ass and the dress I just bought here that could fit just a bit better, I'll take the smaller bag, merci.

22 May 2006

Review: Gethsemani Trappist Fruitcake

The cake against which all past and future fruitcakes will be judged. I’ll try to stay objective but I’m disclaiming right now that this is the one I’ve grown up with, the one I look forward to every holiday season, and the one that comes to mind when someone says "fruitcake." It’s also why I don’t have the anti-fruitcake bias—I’ve grown up on good fruitcake. I suppose out of full disclosure I should mention that my brother is a monk and has visited and stayed at this monastery. But he’s Benedictine, not Trappist, and our family had been eating this fruitcake many, many years before he became a monk, so that did not influence my opinion in any way.

The $28, 2.5 pound fruitcake isn’t as pretty as the Collin Street fruitcake; it’s darker and not quite as ornate. It’s got a really nice tin, though—those monks did a good job there. The ingredients are a delight to read, especially after the rather disappointing ingredients included in the Collin Street brand: just about everything on the list you could buy at the grocery store, including the very cute “oleomargarine”—my mother has old recipes calling for “oleo.” The worst things I could see in the ingredients are the ubiquitous food colorings in the fruit and the preservative sodium propionate at the end, but there are quite a few reassuring ingredients listed, like butter, “pure flavorings and spices,” and my favorite: Kentucky bourbon.

And now, the experience. The aroma is of fruit, bourbon, and caramel. The flavor is not overly sweet, and is a combination of vanilla, spices, bourbon, and fruit. As with Collin Street, the cake is dense and moist. There are some pretty large pieces of fruit and nuts (pecans and walnuts) in this cake, so depending on what you’re biting into, you might be tasting one or the other, or the cake itself. There is an overall taste of booze, either the bourbon that the cake is soaked in or the wine that I was surprised to find is part of the recipe. I wouldn’t call it overpowering, but it makes its presence known and adds to the depth of flavors. I’m pretty sure fruitcakes got started back in olden times when you went all out on special occasions and took all your high-end ingredients and combined them. This really tastes like that to me: a very rich experience.

21 May 2006

Review: Collin Street Bakery Deluxe Fruitcake

Well, my first impressions as a kid haven’t changed much. If you like the flavor of sugar and nuts, you’ll like the Collin Street fruitcake.

The 1 pound, 14 ounce cake looks very pretty when it arrives, a light brown cake in gold foil, decorated with beautiful pecans and cherries (the photo on the right is a bit blurry because if I used flash all you'd see is the shiny glaze). And indeed, the first two ingredients on the list are pecans and cherries; followed by corn syrup, and sugar. Further down the list are invert sugar, hydrogenated soybean oil, and high fructose corn syrup, as well as natural and artificial flavor. For $21, I was expecting better ingredients. The fruits used in this fruitcake are cherries, pineapple, raisins, papaya, and orange peel. Notably lacking: any sort of booze.

The aroma is of toasted pecans, sweet rolls or coffeecake. This is a pecan-heavy cake—Collin Street lists the fruitcake among three other “nut cakes,” as well as another fruitcake, called the Texas pecan fruitcake, which doesn’t look much different from the original fruitcake. I guess I’ll have to try that one at some point.

The flavor really can be described in one word: sweet. It’s a praline-like, syrupy flavor, with some fruity notes but not much. The cake is dense and moist. If you like the taste of sugar and pecans, this will taste good, but I find it one-dimensional.

I’m very disappointed in this cake, frankly. I am willing to give all fruitcakes the benefit of the doubt; that’s the point of this blog, to try to dispel the anti-fruitcake bias. But I see now how people come up with those stupid jokes about what to do with a fruitcake. This fruitcake is OK but extremely boring, and if I continually got this one as a gift, I’d learn to resent its presence and begin thinking creatively about how to get rid of it.

Because the main characteristic of fruitcake is its heavy richness, these cakes are not easily dispatched. You can’t cut it up in quarters and binge it down as you could, say, with a bundt cake. So now I have about 7/8 of this cake in my refrigerator, inedible and a waste of calories.

The worst part about this project is that most of the time, if you have some high calorie product you don’t want to keep in the house, you can bring it to work and the vultures will descend and make waste of it in a few minutes. But with the anti-fruitcake sentiment out there, I think this cake would just sit there like a weird uncle at a party, being politely ignored. On the other hand, for a nation weaned on McDonald’s, Twinkies, and Bud, this might be just exotic enough, but with a non-threatening flavor, to get eaten.

Maybe I’ll leave it in the park near my house for the urban coyotes to eat.

30 April 2006

The first match: Gethsemani vs. Collin Street

My first forays into fruitcake will be the tried and true, beloved Gethsemani Farms fruitcake versus what, in my circle at least, is one of the more well-known of fruitcakes, that made by the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. I vaguely remember my family getting a gift of a Collin Street fruitcake when I was young. At that time, I was fascinated by the tin cover design--a cowboy roping something, scattered amongst fruitcake and Christmas-related imagery. It seemed strange and incongruous for a fruitcake--what does a cowboy know about fruitcake? The actual cake at that time, for me, was a real disappointment: golden, sickeningly sweet, full of fruit that I didn't quite recognize. And I'm talking about a kid, here, someone to whom "golden" and "sickeningly sweet" should have appealed.

But time passes and my goal for this blog is to have, if not unbiased, at least fairly objective descriptions of the cakes I'll be reviewing. So bring 'em on. With regret that I ate up my half-fruitcake from Gethsemani in January (as well as, I believe, a full quarter of my mom's), I have ordered, online, a fruitcake from both of the companies above, sending dust flying off hard-drives and rousing the one employee each company keeps in the non-Christmas season to fill the orders, I'm sure.

Both companies seem to solicit a heck of a lot of information from me just to get the fruitcakes out, particularly Collin Street--it felt as if I entered my address at least three times. I'm assuming this would come in handy if you were sending to a lot of people--that way your contact address, billing address, and shipping addresses could be separate.

Reviews to follow once the fruitcakes are received. Merry Christmas in May!

27 April 2006

Proust's madeleines=my fruitcake

I started this blog because of the lingering frustration that I have with the state of this nation's attitude toward fruitcake.

Since I was a little girl, I've always liked fruitcake. Perhaps I should amend that: a specific fruitcake--the fruitcake of the Gethsemani monks in Trappist, Kentucky. I've grown up with it, and even now look forward to getting it as a gift from my mom every Christmas. (Normally it's given in combination with some of their cheese--mild, Muenster-like, but very smelly).

So the flavor of that fruitcake--bourbony, dense, moist, and redolent of rich spices and fruit--sets me off on what I hope to be a journey through the world of fruitcake at its best.