06 July 2007

Review: Assumption Abbey Fruitcake

The latest fruitcake is from Assumption Abbey, located in Ava, Missouri. This abbey website has won me over with one of the best photos ever, of monks injecting cakes with alcohol. (The rest of the site is very nice, as well—I encourage you to go to their main page for a peaceful mini-retreat). There’s an interesting back story on how the abbey came to the fruitcake business. You can read parts on their website, but there’s also an interesting article here.

The two-pound cake cost $28, shipping included, and arrives in a pretty basic, unassuming tin. Nothing fancy here--the fruitcake I received was simply wrapped in food service plastic wrap, no fancy shrink wrap.

This is a dark, boozy cake, as all abbey fruitcakes seem to be (bless the Roman Catholic Church, which is not alcohol-averse). Fruits in this cake include raisins, pineapples, cherries, currants, citron, as well as orange and lemon peels. Nuts include both walnuts and pecans.

As for the rest of the ingredients, they’re pretty basic. Butter, eggs, all good stuff. The worst ingredients are corn syrup--not even high fructose--and fake vanilla. However, as I continue to review fruitcakes, I’m starting to wonder about the preserved fruits used. They tend to be full of scary-sounding preservatives, like sodium benzoate, sulfur dioxide, and sorbic acid.

Really, now, in days of yore, when they were first making fruitcakes, how did they preserve their fruits? Certainly not with sodium benzoate—I’d hazard a guess that it was not available in days of yore. I’m inspired, now, to review a fruitcake that uses dried rather than preserved fruit. Although most dried fruits have sulfur in them, maybe dried-fruit fruitcakes will have a few less icky preservatives. A dried-fruit type of cake may also convince those people who are frightened of shiny green and red fruit to come to the dark side and become fruitcake-lovers. The texture of the cake should be different, too.

But I digress.

The alcohols in this cake are wine and rum. The rum (which is what the good monks are injecting in the photo) gives the cake that good, boozy flavor, a bit lighter than bourbon. Both the flavor and texture of this cake are similar to the other abbey fruitcakes.

To conclude, then: this is a delicious abbey fruitcake. It seems like you can’t go wrong with an abbey fruitcake. They consistently deliver a quality, well-made cake that tastes great.

The Assumption Abbey Bakery is celebrating their 20th anniversary in the fruitcake business, and that’s reason enough for me to promote this fruitcake to the top of the list of abbey fruitcakes for this holiday season. And why not? Although Gethsemani is still my favorite, heck, it’s my blog.

So let’s keep ‘em in business another 20, eh? Here’s hoping for great fruitcake until 2027 and onwards.

UPDATE: Looks like no one other than Williams-Sonoma sells Assumption Abbey fruitcake. For $11 more. Don't gild W-S's pockets and make your own lighter--shop direct!!


Anonymous said...

When are you going to review the fruitcake made by the monks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Oregon?


They make one of the few monastery fruitcakes in a loaf shape rather than a ring. I used to order their 3 lbs. fruitcake but it now appears that you have to buy their fruitcake in 1 lbs. segments. There's a picture on their website of the rectangular box used to ship the (now unavailable) 3 lbs. cake.

Isabelle said...

Hi Anonymous - the Guadalupe cake certainly looks delicious, and I have a bunch of abbeys on my list to cover and I think this one is among them.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I thought I was all alone in the Universe...the only one who loved fruitcake. Isabelle, thanks so much for letting me know thats not true.

Jill said...

The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village, KS sells this fruitcake.