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Topic: Fruitcake comparison (3 msgs / 242 lines)
1) From: Mike Chester
This is the report from Cook's Illustrated.
When we proposed a tasting of mail-order fruitcakes, the test kitchen staff 
split into two camps: those who dislike fruitcake in general and those who 
confessed to being fans. Doubters felt that fruitcake was too dense, moist, 
and sweet- too often tasting of fake fruit and mild fermentation. Also, as 
one taster put it, "The texture is what's scary. You never know what you're 
biting into." Fruitcake fans, on the other hand, defined a good fruitcake as 
being dense and containing "real" (not artificial, or artificially colored) 
dried fruits that tasted fresh and were not overly sweet. Most also wanted a 
taste of liquor but disliked the idea of an overall boozy flavor that would 
overwhelm the cake. Everyone agreed that green cherries should be banned.
For our tasting, we ordered fruitcakes from five popular sources--Assumption 
Abbey, Butterfield Farms, Collin Street Bakery, Gethsemani Farms, and Harry 
and David--all of which have been selling fruitcake for more than 80 years. 
We didn't reach a consensus on which of these was the absolute best 
fruitcake, but there were distinct favorites in the two camps. Fans of this 
dessert preferred the Assumption Abbey fruitcake; those more likely to use 
it as a doorstop preferred Butterfield Farms. Details follow.
RECOMMENDED
Assumption Abbey Fruitcake, baked by Trappist monks in Ava, Missouri, weighs 
2 pounds and comes in a tin. The cake can be purchased through 
Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com) for $42.00 or ordered directly 
from the abbey (www.assumptionabbey.org) for $26.00. We ordered from the 
abbey. Its Web site was well organized, and the cake was delivered within a 
week. This fruitcake received more first-place votes than any other we 
sampled, largely because no one element was overpowering. The liquor (rum), 
spices, and fruit all worked well together.
Butterfield Farms in St. Louis, Missouri, has been making fruitcakes since 
1917. We purchased a 2-pound fruitcake at the farm's Web site 
(www.butterfieldfarms.com) for $24.95. The cake came within a week. While 
many tasters didn't like the color of this almost blond cake, the consensus 
was that it tasted the least like fruitcake, making it the favorite of the 
"I don't like fruitcake" camp. Some tasters picked up on a butterscotch 
flavor, some said it tasted like a Snickers candy bar, while a few found it 
reminiscent of unbaked cookie dough. The cake is made with bourbon, rum, and 
brandy, but the liquor flavor was overwhelmed by the sweetness. Most tasters 
liked it as a cake, but none thought it tasted like a fruitcake.
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATION
We bought a 2 1/2 pound Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake for $27.00 from the 
Gethsemani Abbey in Trappist, Kentucky (www.gethsemanifarms.org) delivery 
took more than two weeks. This fruitcake won praise from the handful of 
tasters who said they enjoy a "boozy," highly spiced fruitcake (the cake 
contains burgundy wine as well as Kentucky bourbon). A number of tasters, 
however, felt the alcohol content was high enough to burn; others found this 
offering to be more spice cake than fruitcake. It also contained less fruit 
than most of the other cakes sampled, and some tasters felt this made it too 
dry.
Collins Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, has been baking fruitcake since 
1896. We bought the bakery's 1 7/8 pound Deluxe Fruitcake for $19.95 
(www.collinstreetbakery.com/); delivery took more than two weeks. One of 
only two fruitcakes in our sample that did not include liquor in its 
ingredients, it was by far the nuttiest, with pecans making up more than 27 
percent of its weight. Tasters who like pecans liked the cake; those who 
don't found the nutty confection bland and lacking in interest. It was 
uniformly criticized for its large quantity of red and green glacéed 
cherries; seasonal though they may be, these bright colors struck tasters as 
"alarmingly" artificial.
NOT RECOMMENDED
Harry and David is the largest of the suppliers we ordered from, and the 
company's Web http://www.harryanddavid.com/)was a little confusing, making 
it hard to figure out where we could order a plain fruitcake as opposed to 
"fruitcake confectionary" (a candy made with fruitcake ingredients). The 
1-pound cake cost $17.95 (making it the most expensive of the five by 
weight) and arrived promptly. This cake had the fewest champions. Its 
overabundance of glacéed fruit was largely to blame, as even fruitcake fans 
commented that the fruit colors were weird. Most tasters also found the 
texture to be too dry and crumbly. This cake did not include liquor as an 
ingredient.
In the end, we found enough tasters who not only confessed to liking 
fruitcake but felt that it contributed to the holiday spirit. For fruitcake 
admirers, we recommend the Assumption Abbey Fruitcake. We also recommend the 
Butterfield Farms fruitcake as a good food gift for the holidays, but just 
call it cake.

2) From: Brian Kamnetz
This fruit cake discussion has me all charged up about something that
I never previously gave two hoots about! Thanks, Mike! Wonderful
review. I get together at Christmas with two of my sisters and I'm
thinking that a really good fruitcake may be a nice contribution to
the festivities.
Brian
On Dec 17, 2007 1:24 PM, Mike Chester  wrote:
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3) From: Sandra Andina
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We invariably get at least one Collin St. fruitcake each year as a  
gift--we find that puncturing it and dousing it in brandy makes it  
taste much better six months later.
Sandy
On Dec 17, 2007, at 12:24 PM, Mike Chester wrote:
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<Snip>http://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettingsSandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
--Apple-Mail-41-571549900
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We invariably get at least one =
Collin St. fruitcake each year as a gift--we find that puncturing it and =
dousing it in brandy makes it taste much better six months =
later.Sandy
On Dec 17, 2007, at 12:24 PM, Mike Chester =
wrote:
This is the report from Cook's Illustrated. When we = proposed a tasting of mail-order fruitcakes, the test kitchen staff = split into two camps: those who dislike fruitcake in general and those = who confessed to being fans. Doubters felt that fruitcake was too dense, = moist, and sweet- too often tasting of fake fruit and mild fermentation. = Also, as one taster put it, "The texture is what's scary. You never know = what you're biting into." Fruitcake fans, on the other hand, defined a = good fruitcake as being dense and containing "real" (not artificial, or = artificially colored) dried fruits that tasted fresh and were not overly = sweet. Most also wanted a taste of liquor but disliked the idea of an = overall boozy flavor that would overwhelm the cake. Everyone agreed that = green cherries should be banned. For our tasting, we ordered = fruitcakes from five popular sources--Assumption Abbey, Butterfield = Farms, Collin Street Bakery, Gethsemani Farms, and Harry and David--all = of which have been selling fruitcake for more than 80 years. We didn't = reach a consensus on which of these was the absolute best fruitcake, but = there were distinct favorites in the two camps. Fans of this dessert = preferred the Assumption Abbey fruitcake; those more likely to use it as = a doorstop preferred Butterfield Farms. Details = follow. RECOMMENDED Assumption Abbey Fruitcake, baked by = Trappist monks in Ava, Missouri, weighs 2 pounds and comes in a tin. The = cake can be purchased through Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com) for = $42.00 or ordered directly from the abbey (www.assumptionabbey.org) for = $26.00. We ordered from the abbey. Its Web site was well organized, and = the cake was delivered within a week. This fruitcake received more = first-place votes than any other we sampled, largely because no one = element was overpowering. The liquor (rum), spices, and fruit all worked = well together. Butterfield Farms in St. Louis, Missouri, has been = making fruitcakes since 1917. We purchased a 2-pound fruitcake at the = farm's Web site (www.butterfieldfarms.com) = for $24.95. The cake came within a week. While many tasters didn't like = the color of this almost blond cake, the consensus was that it tasted = the least like fruitcake, making it the favorite of the "I don't like = fruitcake" camp. Some tasters picked up on a butterscotch flavor, some = said it tasted like a Snickers candy bar, while a few found it = reminiscent of unbaked cookie dough. The cake is made with bourbon, rum, = and brandy, but the liquor flavor was overwhelmed by the sweetness. Most = tasters liked it as a cake, but none thought it tasted like a = fruitcake. RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATION We bought a 2 1/2 = pound Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake for $27.00 from the Gethsemani Abbey in = Trappist, Kentucky (www.gethsemanifarms.org) = delivery took more than two weeks. This fruitcake won praise from the = handful of tasters who said they enjoy a "boozy," highly spiced = fruitcake (the cake contains burgundy wine as well as Kentucky bourbon). = A number of tasters, however, felt the alcohol content was high enough = to burn; others found this offering to be more spice cake than = fruitcake. It also contained less fruit than most of the other cakes = sampled, and some tasters felt this made it too dry. Collins = Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, has been baking fruitcake since 1896. = We bought the bakery's 1 7/8 pound Deluxe Fruitcake for $19.95 (www.collinstreetbakery.com/)<= /a>; delivery took more than two weeks. One of only two fruitcakes in = our sample that did not include liquor in its ingredients, it was by far = the nuttiest, with pecans making up more than 27 percent of its weight. = Tasters who like pecans liked the cake; those who don't found the nutty = confection bland and lacking in interest. It was uniformly criticized = for its large quantity of red and green glacéed cherries; seasonal = though they may be, these bright colors struck tasters as "alarmingly" = artificial. NOT RECOMMENDED Harry and David is the largest of = the suppliers we ordered from, and the company's Web (http://www.harryanddavid.com/)= was a little confusing, making it hard to figure out where we could = order a plain fruitcake as opposed to "fruitcake confectionary" (a candy = made with fruitcake ingredients). The 1-pound cake cost $17.95 (making = it the most expensive of the five by weight) and arrived promptly. This = cake had the fewest champions. Its overabundance of glacéed fruit was = largely to blame, as even fruitcake fans commented that the fruit colors = were weird. Most tasters also found the texture to be too dry and = crumbly. This cake did not include liquor as an ingredient. In = the end, we found enough tasters who not only confessed to liking = fruitcake but felt that it contributed to the holiday spirit. For = fruitcake admirers, we recommend the Assumption Abbey Fruitcake. We also = recommend the Butterfield Farms fruitcake as a good food gift for the = holidays, but just call it cake. = homeroast mailing = list http://li=sts.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast To change your = personal list settings (digest options, vacations, unsvbscribes) go to = http://=sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings Sandy Andinawww.myspace.com/sandyandina = --Apple-Mail-41-571549900--


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