27 November 2009

Review: Old Cavendish "Norganic" Fruitcake

The folks at Old Cavendish (whose regular fruitcake I reviewed a while back) sent me a 16-ounce "Norganic" fruitcake to review. They use organic ingredients in this cake, but, as they say on their website, and I quote, "but with one small difference. It will not have the USDA organic sticker on it because of a bureaucratic foul-up that caused us to become decertified." So there you go.

Here's a photo of the fruitcake (you know how I am with photos, I apologize for the ugliness of it; still, in my defense, this is not the most beautiful fruitcake):And here's a photo of the ingredients:
So as I had mentioned in my previous review, this fruitcake is different from many of the "standard" fruitcakes (which is why it's in my Other category) for its use of dried fruit rather than candied fruit. This absolutely gives it a different flavor from other fruitcakes made with the candied fruit--"candied" being the operative word here. Most fruitcakes are very, very sweet because of the candied fruit, and this one, while certainly sweet, does not have the cloying sweetness that (some of us like but) may turn some people off.

This is quite a scrumptious cake, and as I had mentioned in my previous post, I'd call it a "gateway" fruitcake, similar to a "gateway" drug, indicated if you fruitcake-lovers want to start getting friends and loved ones hooked on fruitcake. In general constitution, it is similar to other fruitcakes: batter, fruit, nuts, liqueur. But the dried fruit gives it a more fresh, quick-bread type flavor. The cashew nuts in particular I find very interesting--they certainly give this cake a different mouth-feel, being a bit softer than a pecan or walnut. I have a special fondness for the elegant flavor of a date, and this cake includes them, as well. And just as I enjoy dates in my baking, I dislike prunes, and this cake, in contrast to their non-organic cake, is bereft of them.

I took at look at my previous review, and I'd say that in general what I said there holds true. This is a well-balanced, fresh-tasting, all natural cake that I could see being pulled out for Christmas breakfast due to its general quick-bread like flavor. The added benefit to this cake, of course, is that you can bring your organic foodie friends into the fruitcake fold.

22 November 2009

All the pretty catalogs

It's that time.

Aren't they pretty? I've gotten at least one catalog from each of the companies I've purchase fruitcake from. Roughly clockwise from lower left, Holy Cross abbey, Collin Street (just part of the big sheaf of papers they sent me), a very low-budget Assumption abbey, the Sisters Sweet Shoppe in Columbus (aka Grandma's bake shoppe), Southern Supreme, and Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit. Not showing is the Wisconsin Cheeseman one I received after this photo was taken. And I'm sure I received a couple Gethsemani, but must have tossed those. I do dearly love going through catalogs. Everything seems so new and exciting!! I have to say I would still consider buying something from the Wisconsin Cheeseman, as long as its not fruitcake. They didn't seem to be plugging it too much--only had one meager entry about the fruitcake, and another entry about some fruitcake cookies. But the cheeses look pretty good--I guess I've lived close enough to Wisconsin for long enough that I can always appreciate a big tub of cheese spread.

14 November 2009

College of the Ozarks fruitcake

Hi - a reader alerted me to the fruitcake and other products produced by the students of College of the Ozarks located in Missouri. Interesting premise for this college: every student works to pay their way through the school. It's a Christian college that has been described as "stone cold sober" by the Princeton Review, so I'm guessing I won't find any alcohol-soaked cakes, but it looks like an interesting fruitcake to check out, so I'll add it to my list. They also offer apple butters, grits, etc.

07 November 2009

Make your post-holiday plans now!

I was recently e-mailed regarding the Independence Fruitake Festival. This is allegedly an un-ironic celebration of the fruitcake taking place in California. I'm still a bit skeptical, but this was affirmed by Mary Roper, one of the supporters of the festival. Says Ms. Roper, "We enlist the services of our County's Superior Court Judges to judge them (our assumption is that there can be no "best" because it is so subjective), so we have different prizes like the fruitcake that traveled the farthest, the oldest, the nuttiest (determined with our nutometer), best of theme, etc.."

The festival is held in January this year (January 23, to be exact) to avoid all the crush of holiday festivities and so that people can bring their leftover fruitcakes to the festival.

What I like best are these crazy, random themes for this and previous festivals. This year's is "Food of the Pharoahs." Ms. Roper adds (and this is a sentence you don't hear too often), "Hopefully we'll have the pyramid done by January."

Has anybody else been? Heard of it?