20 October 2009

Review: Texas Manor Fruitcake

I bought the one pound 12 ounce fruitcake from Yahoo, called the Texas Manor fruitcake, for $33.35 including shipping--the price of the fruitcake is $23.50, so $9.85 to ship from the bottom of the country to the top. Here's a photo of the tin:
Pretty simple, but I'd say rather cute, with a sort of old-timey-as-conceived-in-the-sixties feel to it.

The cake is just one of the cutest ones I've seen in a while:

A really happy-looking cake, I'd say. The cake itself is light yellow, having no molasses, brown sugar or booze in it. First ingredient? My un-favorite: raisins. However, although you can definitely taste them, they aren't quite as insufferable as I've had in other cakes. The rest of the ingredients are not too bad for a mass-produced: yes, there are colorings (what cake with preserved fruit doesn't have 'em), invert sugar, and margarine, not butter, but this is the first cake I've seen that contains buttermilk. The only fruits are three: raisins, glacéed pineapples and glacéed cherries. The nuts: pecans and walnuts.

These glacéed cherries are quite good: definitely a better quality than most, though as you can see, if you're not into those three fruits, this is not the cake for you. Because of the fruit combo, this cake tastes a bit like a pineapple upside-down cake--it's got that sweet, caramelly taste, and I'm sure the raisins only enhance that flavor. The cake to fruit ratio is quite good, with a bit of batter in there that you can taste for itself, not just as something that holds the fruit together.

Sigh. Have I become a softy? Have I, alas, just tasted too many fruitcakes, and am starting to cut some a break? Or were the mass-produced fruitcakes I had tried earlier really that bad? Because this one was really not that bad. Maybe as I try other fruitcakes, I'm just giving them the benefit of the doubt. After all, last year's Grandma's fruitcake did not light up any of my lights, but my family liked it.

I guess I can finally admit that this sort of generic fruitcake does have a place in the fruitcake spectrum. Maybe after all of these years, I've found a few mass-produced fruitcakes that are not excruciatingly bad. This one was a pretty good tasting, rather sweet, standard fruitcake. Would I buy it again? Probably not: if I were to buy any fruitcakes again, they would probably be from the smaller fruitcake bakeries, like any of the monasteries and maybe even the Southern-style ones, before I'd go to one of these. I prefer to support something artisanally made, or family-made, rather than support Big Bakery.

That being said, I don't think I'm qualified to say who's a big bakery or not. Who's to say that Georgia fruitcake is not as big or bigger than Yahoo? And frankly, I've not seen any of the monastery fruitcake operations. So I have to use the quality of ingredients as a guide to what I choose.

Still, I'm going to put this one on the top of the mass-produced. Its ingredients were not terribly horrible, it had a tastefully cute tin, and the flavor was, well, it was okay--I won't be throwing this one away. The quality of the glacéed cherries certainly redeems it.

And I may be back for this cake. I just can't get over its cuteness.