I make absolutely no secret of my love for Bettys. Last year the Yorkshire bakery narrowly but decisively pipped Riverford to the post in a mince-pie-off that I decided to have because I needed justification for eating all the pies. Then I spent a day last month making gorgeous Christmas goodies at the Bettys Cookery School in Harrogate. Basically, for me, Bettys = Christmas.
So I was delighted when the lovely team there got in touch and offered me the chance to try one of the bakery’s 2013 Christmas goodies. I asked what they recommended, and the Spiced Fruit Gugelhupf, a new addition to the seasonal collection, arrived in the post this week.
A gugelhupf is a traditional Bundt-style ring cake which hails from southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland; though there are regional variations in what’s added to the batter, this particular offering is studded with rum-soaked fruit, peel, almond nibs and chocolate chips and finished off with a drizzle of icing and a sprinkling of pistachios. Lightly spiced, it’s something of a heavier, distinctly more Swiss German version of a panettone. As I opened it, a cloud of rum-scented, cinammon-edged warmth hit me: Christmas in a box. It also had a faint hint of something like my mum’s melomakarona, though to my knowledge there’s no honey in it – must have been the whiff of fruit.
Cutting it open, it still looks quite heavy and solid, but when you bite into it it’s actually surprisingly light, and even a little crumbly. On first glance, I wondered if it should have been more packed with ‘bits’, but actually the balance is perfect – any more and it would have been a fruit cake. The spice is added with a delicate hand, letting the fruit shine, and actually the alcohol is more scent than flavour, which I prefer. Despite coming from a similar tradition, this has neither the stodginess nor the intense sweetness of something like stollen or lebkuchen, and the icing is a pleasant dash of sugar which complements rather than overwhelming.
This is a really good alternative for those who don’t like fruit cake and want a satisfying but not cloying sweet which is still essentially Christmassy. It’s not a budget choice at £13.95, but is packed with expensive ingredients and achingly fresh – it should be eaten within two days of delivery, but it can be frozen if you’re preparing ahead.
Bettys ships internationally for most items, but due to its freshness this item is only available in the UK.
Disclaimer: I was sent a Spiced Fruit Gugelhupf by Bettys for free to sample and review. I was not otherwise paid, nor was I required to write anything except my honest opinion.