05 August 2012

Review: Holy Transfiguration Skete Poorrock Abbey Cakes

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased the First Gift Box from the Holy Transfiguration Skete Abbey in Michigan. I hadn't looked closely at the description of the gift boxes, but they weren't kidding when they said gift box: the food is actually sent in a nice maple box with "fire-branded" covers. It's a pretty box, though the fire-branding comes out a bit muddy:

Here's a close up of the branded logo:

The cover slides off, revealing two cakes nestled in their individual little cabins:
The box I ordered contained two 24-ounce cakes, the Abbey Cake and the Walnut Ginger cake. Both are liberally doused in liquor; the walnut ginger cake, in brandy, while the Abbey cake is soaked in bourbon. So when you unwrap them, they both look like this:

The cakes are wrapped in two plastic bags to keep in the moist boozy goodness, and it really works--I've had both in my fridge for a couple weeks now and they still are very moist.

Regarding cost, the gift box was $58.00, and with shipping (from the Midwest to the Midwest) it cost me $70. These are not inexpensive cakes, but do keep in mind I got a nice maple box with them. In hindsight I think I should have ordered the Fruitcake sampler, a set of six one-pound cakes, to get the full Transfiguration cake experience, but that one cost $70--uff da! I'm planning for a wedding here!

On to ingredients. Here are the ingredients in the Walnut Ginger cake:

I guess the name of the actual abbey is Poorrock, although on the website they call themselves the Abbey of  Holy Transfiguration Skete. As you can see, pretty simple, wholesome ingredients, and brandy. Here's the Abbey cake ingredients:

While the ginger cake uses both Madeira and brandy, the Abbey cake focuses on my favorite liquor: bourbon.

Here's what the Abbey cake looks like unwrapped:

And finally, a shot of a slice of the Ginger Walnut cake. The proportion of cake to fruit in this cake was similar to that of the Abbey cake:

So, on to the taste. The walnut ginger had the texture and taste of a light tea bread. The ginger was not overbearing but instead gave it a nice bright flavor with a tiny bit of heat. The heat from the brandy cannot be overlooked; unlike a cake where the liquor is baked into the dough, both of these cakes, wrapped in liquor-moistened cheesecloth, have a pronounced alcohol edge to them. If you don't like the heat of alcohol on the tongue, don't get these cakes. Depending how you look at it, the alcohol was either a bit distracting from the taste of the cake, or it added one more element to the flavor.

The Abbey cake is darker due to the molasses in the dough, and had a taste more like a typical fruitcake. The moisture and flavor imparted from the bourbon-soaked cheesecloth made two ingredients that I'm not a huge fan of--walnuts, which I find to be sometimes bitter, and raisins, not my favorite dried fruit--taste quite good. The moisture gave the walnuts a better texture, and the raisins were plump and juicy. Being that there are only raisins in this cake, you don't get the different textures and tastes of a variety of fruit--I think the dried fruit cake they offer might be better for that--but overall this is a very tasty cake.

The hallmarks of these cakes are the honesty of their ingredients and the heavy-handed booziness of them. I'd be interested in trying the dried fruit one I just mentioned. It might--just might--give the Robert Lambert cake a run for its money, and at $40 for 5 pounds, it's a better value.


Anonymous said...

Isabelle, of course you will have a fruitcake for your wedding cake. What kind?

Isabelle said...

This one!

Anonymous said...

Just ordered a pair of cakes from HTS. Your reviews have been very helpful so far (I'm 1/3 of the way through this year's Gethsemani cake--amazing!), and I can't wait to try these new ones.
Thanks, Mondo!

Isabelle said...

I'm glad they've been helpful!

Anonymous said...

OMG! just tried my first slice of Abbey Cake, and I was blown away by the booziness, complexity and depth of flavor! VERY good cake, but make sure to check IDs before serving it to anyone who looks younger than 21. Amazing! Thx for the steer.

Isabelle said...

I agree about the booziness!