12 September 2009

Review: Hermitage Big Sur (New Camoldoli) Date Nut Cake

Oh, I'm so sad. I wanted so hard to like this cake. How could a date-nut cake be bad? But it was really not at all what I was expecting, and really didn't appeal.

Similar to the Hermitage Big Sur fruitcake, this cake comes in a very simple, eco-friendly box, quite appealing in these green times:

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not actually purchase this cake; it was generously donated. Cost, though, for the 3-pound cake is $36.00, plus shipping, so I would assume for me it would have been around $39 or so.

As the fruitcake was, this cake is large and sturdy. It's really not very pretty. I realized when reviewing these photos that I may have had the cake upside down, but I'm not sure how much better it would have looked right side up:

It's a very dark cake, and I have been remiss in not noting all of the ingredients, but as with the fruitcake, it is dipped in brandy and aged. The cake actually comes wrapped in plastic to seal in the moistness.
Since the loaf itself is not super attractive, here's a shot of a slice:

Quite a few walnuts in a dark batter, and I didn't notice large chunks of date. I guess I was mentally comparing this with the date-nut bread that I create, which has a lighter batter and lovely chunks of date and nut in it. This was different: the batter was not light, and there was an overall raisin flavor that I tasted with the fruitcake. I didn't get an overall impression of "datiness."
If given a choice, I would go with the Hermitage Big Sur fruitcake over this. This is going to the bottom of the Other list. Good ingredients, but an overall murky, non date-like flavor.


Katie said...

I think this looks like a pretty good cake loaf! Might be worth trying. Although really I'm a fruit cake traditionalist (including no green cherries!). So a nut loaf isn't usually what I'd go for.

Have you tried a recipe like this, this is my favorite type of fruit cake:

Anonymous said...

I loved this loaf--it reminded me of Thomas's Date Nut Bread that I grew up with. spread it with cream cheese!

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite. My family has had this at Christmas for years. I admit to a bias of my own: I spent a week on retreat at the Hermitage a little over 30 years ago, and it was a wonderful experience.

I prefer the date-nut cake to the fruitcake.

Isabelle said...

The idea of spreading this with cream cheese sounds delicious! I'm sure a retreat there would be lovely. The Hermitage is currently (December 2010) having some problems with their roads washing away, I may donate to the cause to have them repaired. The least I can do to support a monastery with a tradition of fruitcake-making!