“ Brand: Traidcraft / Type: Cake „
I bought this cake from a company called Ethical Superstore who I have used many times when shopping for fair trade goods and it has consistently provided me with an excellent service. Just before Christmas I ordered a lot of goods from them as I love to celebrate Christmas knowing that someone has benefited from at least some of the financial outlay. It isn't a religious view but just one born out of a feeling that commercialism seems to be trying more and more to erode the traditional family Christmas and to somehow cover over the real meaning of the season of goodwill.
Just before Christmas this cake was half price and was selling at Ethical Superstore for £4.95 and I believe it is also for sale from Traidcraft themselves now for this price.
This is a cake I buy most seasons because it has a lot of benefits. Firstly the taste- it is a moist rich cake and it has a very strong brandy flavour as if you have just fed and laced a home baked cake. It is however not a dark traditional cake, it's as if the treacle has been omitted so it is more like a boozy fruit cake than a traditional heavy wedding recipe. The cake itself is very attractive and is presented in a good size box and it has a pretty red ribbon bow to decorate. The entire look is festive and the red and white simple design is set off beautifully by a gold sparkle trim on the edge of the ribbon. It doesn't slice well though and tends to fall apart making it difficult to serve a slice to a guest being more a fair slice of cake surrounded by crumbs of icing and marzipan. This being the case I feel it is better for a forgiving family situation than a dinner party where you were cooking to impress! I don't tend to have dinner parties but some do and might appreciate this fact! The icing is quite soft so you don't need to book an appointment with the dentist for the morning after you eat it! I am always a little disappointed by this aspect of the cake as it has a very thin layer of icing and marzipan but I think this is because when I make cakes like this myself I usually layer many icing blankets resulting in a snow scene and risking a cracked filling or two!
What really impresses me about this cake is that the ingredients are fair trade and the sultanas and raisins are sourced from the Orange River in South Africa. The weather here is dry and the area is isolated as it is situated near to the Kalahari Desert. This poses a difficult set of conditions for farmers to try and make a living from agriculture but there is a business opportunity for some drying grapes. The problem is that it takes three years for a new farmer to see their first crop and getting started needs financial investment as well as a guaranteed purchase price. Working together with a company called SAD Vine Fruit Ltd, Traidcraft is supporting these farmers and their fruit is the main ingredient in this delicious cake. The sugar used is also Fair trade.
The ingredients are listed below which I have sourced from Traidcraft themselves and the cake is vegetarian.
Sultanas* (24%), Marzipan [17%]: [Sugar, Almonds, Water, Glucose Syrup, Humectant: Sorbitol, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Flavour], White Icing [9%]: [Icing, Glucose Syrup, Water, Sugar, Humectant: Glycerine, Stabiliser: Tragacanth, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Egg Albumin], Glace Cherries [8%]: [Cherries, Glucose Syrup, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Colour: Anthocyanin, Preservative: Sulphur Dioxide], Brown Sugar* (8.9%), Whole Free Range Egg, Wheat Flour, Butter, Glucose Syrup, Brandy (1.7%), Soya Flour, Humectant: Sorbitol, Colour: Caramel, Whey Powder (from Milk), Emulsifiers: Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Raising Agents: Sodium Bicarbonate, Diphosphates, Salt.
I think if you love a real dark Christmas cake then this is not really one for you but it is much better for someone who prefers a lighter and less dense cake. I was in Starbucks recently and if you go there try the Christmas cake because it is made by the baker who made Madonna's wedding cake. It is the darkest and most moist cake I have ever eaten and one which is the Queen of all rich fruit cakes. This Traidcraft one is a different kind of cake but one which I buy each year as it is enjoyed by all the family especially when the thought of one more mince pie seems a bit too much! You can't buy it as a real Christmas cake but you can enjoy the difference and it is great for New Years day when after a light salad you just fancy a hint of what you enjoyed in abundance over the festive season.
I often stock up on these when they are on offer and if you go to your local Oxfam they are often languishing on the shelves after Christmas waiting to be taken home to adorn your table with some festive cheer. January is often a cold month and when the snow is on the ground I can't think of anything more tempting than a slice of this delight with a steaming mug of coffee. I just did just that and spent a few quiet moments staring out of my French doors and saw the first great tit pair of the year going in and out of my bird box heralding the promise of the spring to come. These birds are planning a new start and I feel by buying one or two of these fair trade foods we may be helping others to have one too.
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I received this cake as part of a Traidcraft hamper. A lovely gift and one that I shall probably review separately.
It's not a huge cake, measuring 17cm in diameter, but sufficient for a family in which most people don't actually like Christmas cake and only have a small slither to maintain tradition. The cake is simply presented, on a round silver base and trimmed with red ribbon around the outside and a red, gold edged bow on top.
I say that most people in my family don't like Christmas cake, but this statement does not apply to me. I love it! I like a rich dark cake with a bit of bite, thick icing and a thin coating of marzipan. Thin, marzipan because this is the part of the cake I dislike and I have been known to peel the icing off, attempt to remove the marzipan from it and then restick the icing to my cake!
I really wanted to be able to give this cake a positive review. It was purchased from traidcraft whose slogan is 'Fighting poverty through trade' and this is an organisation that I support. It seems particularly fitting at Christmas, a time when we get sucked into commercialism and tend to forget about the lives of the producers of our goods, that at least something on my Christmas table has helped others less fortunate in some way. For this reason I have to give it five stars to start off with. The final star rating will come from the cutting experience, taste test and price.
The cake fights back as you cut into it, as all good Christmas cakes should, however, the centre crumbles away and it is difficult to cut a tidy slice. Inside, the cake is disappointingly light in colour, plus points for the thinness of the marzipan layer but this is negated by the even thinner layer of icing. At first glance there is an even ratio of fruit to cake, fair enough, but I prefer my Christmas cake fruity. I am disappointed by the smell of the cake. It does not have the pungent richness of other cakes I have tried.
The cake is pleasantly moist (and remains so for the five days that it takes us to finish it). It does not crumble immediately on chewing so is a pleasant eat. The thin layer of icing ensures that each bite is not overpoweringly sweet, but this cake cannot compare to home made cake for richness. I'm guessing a 'dash of brandy' as described on the packaging wasn't enough. The ingredients (which I will not bore you by listing) include 8% glacier cherries. They must have chopped them very finely because I haven't spotted any. Overall, this is little more than a fruit cake dressed up for the occasion.
Bought separately from traidcraftshop.co.uk this initially retailed at £9.95 but is currently on sale for £4.95. If buying the cake myself I would pay the sale price, but not the full.
Would I buy this cake again?
Well, it was a gift in the first place, and a well considered one. Despite my complaints I would buy it for my family. It is the only Christmas cake that my children would eat this year. They take one look at the darker versions and turn their noses up. I also like to think that the centre piece of our Christmas tea has helped, in some small way, other families somewhere in the world. That's what the spirit of Christmas should be about after all.