22 September 2007

Review: Old Cavendish Fruitcake

The Old Cavendish fruitcake is made by the eponymous specialty food maker in Vermont who also makes mustards and vinegars. As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to try a fruitcake that didn’t have what fruitcake haters hate—that is, the brightly colored preserved fruits that one traditionally sees in fruitcake.

I purchased the $39, 2.5 pound, all natural Old Cavendish fruitcake, which comes in a bright red tin. There is also a 16 ounce size, available in both “all natural” and “organic” versions.

They weren’t kidding about all natural:

Love those ingredients, and the cake definitely reflects the quality of them. The one ingredient that I found disconcerting, in both the ingredients list and the cake itself: prunes.

This cake has two different types of alcohol listed in the ingredients: orange liqueur and brandy. There is a lightly boozy flavor but not as heavy as the monastery fruitcakes. This cake also lacks a certain caramel-like depth of flavor that I’ve tasted and liked in other cakes. I’m not sure what causes that—maybe less sugar or lack of brown sugar.

Many people dislike what they claim to be the bitterness of preserved fruit in traditional fruitcakes. You won’t find that in this cake. The flavor is straightforward, fresh and natural, with (obviously) a pronounced dried-fruit flavor. Oh, who am I kidding. There are big chunks of prune in this cake. It tastes pruney. The nut flavor is there, as well, but is not as pronounced because of the nuts chosen: walnuts and cashews. Cashews, a different choice for fruitcake, add a certain richness to the texture but not a lot of flavor due to the general pruni—-um, fruitiness of the cake.

It’s pretty obvious by this point that I did not like the large chunks of prune in the cake. I have nothing against prunes, but I think they should have been cut smaller.

I’d rank this along with the Harry and David fruitcake as a good “fruitcake for beginners.” If you don’t particularly like the taste of preserved fruit (and don’t mind prunes), give this one a try. It’s a well-made, natural, good-tasting festive cake.

UPDATE: This fruitcake is also sold through the Vermont Country Store, as noted by an astute commenter. Also, a commenter reports that the organic fruitcake doesn't have prunes in it.


Anonymous said...

You're right. Why put large whole prunes in a fruitcake? Here's another thing: Isn't Potassium Sorbate used in the processing of plums into prunes? Does this not count as a preservative?

Isabelle said...

Hi Brian, well, we live in a modern society. I guess we can't get rid of ALL the preservatives . . .

Anonymous said...

I just spoke with someone from Cavendish to find out whether the organic fruitcake used the same recipe. I was told it is the same except...no walnuts and no PRUNES!