03 December 2010

Review: College of the Ozarks

I bought the cute little one pound cake from the College of the Ozarks. A reader had mentioned this college and I find the whole premise of the college intriguing. Each student MUST have an on-campus job. One of those jobs is selling their food products, only one of which is fruitcake: they also sell summer sausage, apple butter and jams, and corn meal and other milled products. You can read more about their fruitcake-making history here.

This cake is fairly pricey: I paid $24 for the one pound cake, shipping included, and the other sizes (two and three pound, as well as mini fruitcakes) range in price from $30 to $36. That puts it on the higher end but still within range of most other fruitcakes.   I couldn't resist; I also bought the summer sausage and a jar of apple butter. The sausage is waiting to appear at an upcoming Christmas party, but the apple butter is delicious.

Here's what's printed on the box it came in:

Quite an interesting school seal, isn't it? The tin is quite attractive, with a drawing of the Williams Memorial Chapel, the centerpiece of their campus:

Here's the cake:

So cute! Definitely has that homey quality to it.

Onto the cake itself. Here are the ingredients:

I guess I'd prefer butter to margarine, and gee, guys, could you get into a bit more detail besides "candied fruit" and "nuts"? Considering how some of the ingredient lists I've seen contain enough parentheses and brackets to choke a lawyer, I would appreciate a bit more. From my un-scientific analysis, it looks like the nuts are walnuts and pecans, and the fruits are raisins (uh-oh), cherries, and citron. All are chopped to a nice size, not too large, and they are well integrated into the cake.

The cake is very nice, a golden pound cake type batter: not gooey, but still rich. There is a very nice ratio of cake to fruit--enough fruit where you know it's a fruitcake, but enough cake to be able to taste and appreciate its quality.

The taste is NOT raisin-y. I think that flavor that I dislike may come from a combination of molasses and raisins, but this cake did not suffer from that sort of caramelized yukkiness. On the contrary, this fruitcake had a nice, clean, cakey and fruity flavor. There is no booze add additional dimensions of flavor, so you taste pretty much fruit, and cake.

So now I come to my dilemma: what kind of fruitcake is this? Would it classify as Southern? It's not nuttily candy-like, but I've had other Southern cakes that are not out and out gooey candy-like confections. Monastery-type, of course, is right out; I'm sure both the monks and C of A would agree there. It could almost be an "other," because it doesn't claim to be a Southern fruitcake, and has that lighter taste that many of the cakes in that category have. Seeing as College of the Ozarks is right outside of Branson, which is very close to the Arkansas border, I'm going to proclaim this a Southern fruitcake and add it at number three on that list, and with a bit of rearranging, we'll have Claxton, C of A, then Collin Street and Southern Supreme.

A note here about ordering from C of A: they do not have online ordering, nor do they take credit card numbers over the phone. When I called, they said that I could place my order and they would bill me, but my 21st century mind could not fathom the idea of someone shipping me something with that amount of trust, so I sent in a check with my order blank and received my order promptly. And do pop for some summer sausage or corn meal--support the students, buy local(ish), and buy American!


Anonymous said...

Doesn't look much like a fruitcake. All those holes on top. Makes me think of an old man I knew, who did all the cooking and baking for his invalid wife. He'd buy a Jiffy yellow cake mix and stir in some candied fruit, the type they pack in clear plastic tubs and market around the holidays. He called it a fruitcake, but I didn't think so.

Isabelle said...

Very good point! I should have included a photo of a slice of the cake--there is quite a bit of cake, but there's also quite a bit of fruit, too. No booze, though.

Schmanz said...

What an interesting school and their products look awesome. The cake looks like it may appeal to those who automatically say they don't like fruitcake.
I'll put it on my list to try and to help out a unique school.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you like my school's products! It is indeed a unique school and am glad I get to be a part of it! Enjoy our student made products! They are indeed delicious!

Isabelle said...

Thanks, Anonymous, I may actually take a look again for the holidays--the summer sausage was delicious!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I got to meet the teacher who has taught the students about making fruitcakes and jellies. She has been there for years. She was very informative of how the cakes and jellies are made and introduced us to some students who were in the process of baking. Fascinating college and very unique experience to visit this college.