28 July 2008

Review: Grandma’s Bake Shoppe Original Fruit & Nut Cake

. . . aka Krema Products, aka Beatrice Bakery, aka Big Baking Conglomerate. Thanks to my commenters for help figuring out who, exactly, Grandma is. I purchased this two-pound fruitcake from The Sisters Sweet Shoppe in Dublin, Ohio, but I suspect that the Sisters are a way to put a down-home, authentic feel to a mass-produced product. The product came shipped in a box from “The Sister’s Sweet Shoppe/Grandma’s/Krema/Crazy R[I think this is Crazy Richards],” so they don’t even know who they are. One of my commenters mentioned that Beatrice bakery, which is also on my list, sells a fruitcake that is identical to this product, down to the ingredients list. Thanks Anonymous, I can cross another one off my list. Anonymous actually wrote a great, informative post, so I’ll include it here:

"Grandma's was my introduction to better (than Claxton or Jane Parker) fruitcake, back during Christmas of '75. Three spirits! Just like Dickens' tale. The two-pounder came in a lovely gilt, embossed box, and the aroma greeted you the moment you lifted the lid. This cake has come from everywhere. In the beginning I received it as a corporate gift, and then I ordered it from Figi's. I think it has been marketed under more than one label. Two years ago I ordered a cake from Butterfield Farms, and I declare it was a Grandma's, just repackaged. (I emailed my suspicion, but got no response.) For a brief period in the '80's the Grandma's producer, at that time Beatrice Foods in Nebraska, offered a very nice Amaretto version, delivered in an exquisite black, end-opening tin. But shortly thereafter, somebody in management decided fruitcakes were passé', and began marketing the basic product under the name "fruit and nut bar." Later still, it was back to "fruit and nut cake." And in a very plain green cardstock box, with a cellophane window. Our local purveyor of fancy Christmas foods stocked them near the front door, where the sunlight dried them out, and it was then that I realized how much syrup must be used in the production process. For several years my cakes had crunchy bits of crystallized sugar in them. By the turn of the millennium, I discovered your all-time favorite monk-made delight from Kentucky, and have tried other monastery cakes since (at your recommendation). For nostalgia's sake, I haven't forsaken Grandma's, but compared with better fruitcake it tastes very candy-like to me today. Much like our local favorite Southern Supreme, except with the spirits. Stay hopeful as you try this one, but not too . . ."

I agree with you, A. Anyway, the cake cost $25.95, with free UPS shipping. It comes in a very pretty tin:

That’s probably the best thing I can say about this fruitcake. As mass-produced fruitcakes go, it ranks at the top of the pack, but there are a whole bunch of other fruitcakes I would recommend before this one.

The cake itself is extremely light-colored, one of the lightest colored cakes I’ve come across (maybe it has something to do with ordering it in July, but I don’t think so):

Raisins, cherries, and pineapple are the fruits, while walnuts, pecans, and almonds are the nuts. It also contains three liquors: brandy, rum, and bourbon. With all of the aforementioned ingredients, one would think this one has a chance of tasting good. Well, the ingredients previously mentioned are offset by corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, many preservatives, and our buddy, turmeric. The cake has an uncooked batter flavor to it—very sweet. In any case, it still doesn’t taste all that great. The texture of the cake itself was similar to the Gethsemani Farms cake, and compared to the previous Hermitage Big Sur fruitcake, it was much lighter. I liked the texture, but texture alone can not redeem a fruitcake. I think that the three liquors gives this cake a slight edge up on the mass-produced fruitcakes that don’t contain any alcohol, but it still just doesn’t taste good.

At least there are no turnips.


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to locate Grandma's Bake Shoppe: Blueberry Walnut Ring Cake for my mom who formerly got one from Publ. Cl. House. Can anyone steer me in the right direction (not PCH please). Thank you

Isabelle said...

I think that Grandma's bake shoppe is an AKA for Beatrice baking, so you can probably find out from them where they sell them. That's a pretty big baking conglomerate, I think.

Anonymous said...

Just got one from an online store that sells sporting goods for half off (which is about what it is worth). Tasted like sugar candy dipped in liquor. Not in a good way either. Way too sweet. This is the type of fruitcake that people make jokes about...

Fruitcake critic said...

I believe you hit the nail on the head about Butterfield Farms fruitcake being Grandma's under a different name and package. The must get it wholesale and call it their own. They both taste the same and look the same...too sweet and with little character in the end.