I had an epiphany recently. Fruitcake doesn't always have to suck, especially when it comes from Collin Street Bakery.
I nearly missed out on this revelation because I didn't know where I had landed when I stopped for a quick cup of tea and a bathroom en route to Dallas for a conference. I was about 50 miles outside the city and any establishment with the word "bakery" in its title sounded infinitely more appealing than a fast-food restaurant.
Inside shiny white Collin Street Bakery was a cafe serving sandwiches, a full bakery case with shelves of cookies and cupcakes, and a large display of tinned fruitcakes. "Meh," I said -- I think out loud -- to the last item. At an early age, I learned that certain foods were by definition laughable and gross, and high on that list was fruitcake. Pee-wee Herman reinforced this fact during the Christmas Special in which he nearly lost it after receiving only fruitcakes as presents.
So, I left Collin Street Bakery with only a beverage and skedaddled off to Dallas. But when I mentioned to a colleague at the conference that I had stopped at Collin Street Bakery and partook of nothing but tea (and the bathroom), she almost shook me.
"You didn't get a fruitcake? Or even have a slice? Don't you know how famous they are for fruitcakes???" (And seeing my disbelieving expression) "Theirs are actually good."
She made me promise to stop by the bakery on our way back to Houston and I happily, albeit sheepishly, agreed.
During my second visit to Collin Street Bakery in fewer than 48 hours, I again balked at buying a whole fruitcake. "I can't imagine I'll like it that much," I told my friend, who sighed but kindly refrained from calling me out on my narrow-mindededness. She bought two small fruitcakes in festive tins and urged me to try at least a lil' bit of one.
Later that evening, I sampled a slice, expecting to bite into an overly dense brick studded with saccharine candied fruit. I mean, abysmal texture and cloying taste is why we mock the fruitcake, yes? I couldn't, however, find much to ridicule with Collin Street's version. It was firm yet still supple, moist with syrup and rich in winter spices. Yes, there were candied cherries, pineapples and dates in abundance, but their fruity sugars were wonderfully balanced by a preponderance of salty pecan chunks.
Dang it, Pee-wee. This isn't the first time you've let me down. Oh well. At least I now have one more type of cake to love.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.