The Australian Bush Christmas Cake Company holds a special place in my heart. I have worked for them every Christmas season for eleven years now. It is a passion of mine and makes for market fun every year and hanging and eating with foodies. It makes what I would consider (bias aside) the most delectable Christmas Cake on the planet. BUT – while it’s called The Australian Bush Christmas Cake Company because the cake is why the business started it is so much much more. For me it is fun and delicious and a way to feed my addictions on some of the nicest market delights you can eat. They make so many more products than the Christmas cake that are all on par for their excellence.
The company started twelve or thirteen years ago by husband and wife team, Annie and Ian Bradley, the parents of a friend of mine. I was between jobs and wanting more money so was offered to come in to their new factory and decorate cakes, placing the glaced fruit on top of the Xmas cake, spraying it with some brandy and making it look awesome. I also folded boxes at home and generally did whatever. The second year I started assisting at the markets and manning the stalls and have done it ever since. I love the product, the people and the markets and have no issue waking at 3am to get to the markets by 530am and set up to sell. We have gone through every weather you can imagine, ok excluding hurricanes and snow storms, in the last eleven years of markets but it just adds to the fun. It is all made worthwhile when you see a face light up as tastebuds dance with delight at the flavours of all the products. Annie and Ian have never been ones to shirk on the ingredients, you always get the best of the best ingredients and it makes a huge difference to tastebud delighting.
The company has grown from Annie making a Xmas cake every year for her family to sending them around the world. At last count we shipped cakes and other products from the extended range to 37 different countries! Annie and Ian owned a macadamia farm in the area of Byron Bay and Annie really started by looking for ways to use the macadamias herself to supplement the selling of them to the macadamia market of the country. The rest of the range could easily sell year round but the name that started the business hinders that slightly because people feel weird seeing the word Xmas at say, Easter time, and Annie and Ian actually are Mr and Mrs Klaus, they holiday when not required at the North Pole.
The Christmas Cake is a standard and delicious Christmas cake with so much more, most of which is Australian native herbs and fruits. Annie uses 10 different kinds of dried fruit, 10 spices, Macadamia Nuts, Glace Cherries, Australian Honey, Treacle and Rum. The mixture is marinated for days in a Dark Ale that has been brewed in Sydney since 1869. The warm cake is then finished with Brandy and more Glace Fruit. The cake is Dairy free and is made with Macadamia Oil instead of animal fats. In total there are around 38 separate ingredients in the cake. Several are indigenous to Australia: the Macadamia Nut and its Oil, Riberries (Lilli-pilli) Davidson’s Plum and Rosella (rainforest fruits not the bird), the leafy Aniseed and Lemon Myrtles, a spicy Mountain Pepper and ground Wattle Seed with its coffee-like flavour. These ingredients are gathered from Growers across Australia. The cake comes in multiple sizes to cater to your needs and gift requirements.
But besides the cake there is an entire world of delight at the stall, Annie used to come up with a new recipe every year for the stall. I kept enquiring if we could get a two storey stall to actually display all the goods but these, apparently, do not exist as yet. So when we reached peak stall capacity Annie settled on the following amazing foods to accompany the cake at the markets. Hands down, our best seller, the SAVOURY BISCUIT aka the CHEESE AND CHILLI BISCUIT. This one is like a heavenly morsel laced with cocaine to get you addicted, but alas, it is just Annie’s recipe and no cocaine :). It is originally based on the old Country Women’s Association Recipe for a CHEESE STRAW. But this mildly warming, not hot, chilli that warms the throat as you swallow is the ultimate BBQ biscuit, or hors d’oeuvre to accompany wine, or beer, or wine again. It is even used by many as an alternate to a crouton floating on a warm soup during winter. This one is so popular we even sell the addicts bags of the biscuits which are six of the single box inserts in a big package. My parental units get regular supplies of these for their home and BnB. There is also a superb Macadamia shortbread in the biscuit range and a large florentine made with macadamias instead of peanuts that will blow your tastebuds to heaven and back.
Another Mother and Father Christmas creation is a spectacular macadamia based Xmas pudding that Annie came up with. Most of the stuff Annie has made has been with a purpose, the Xmas cake because she wanted an additional use of the macadamias, the cheese and chilli biscuits so she had treats that her family became addicted to and would do anything she said for a biscuit, and the pudding to cater to the summer humidity of Australia. We are not having our Xmas in the UK, it is not snowing outside, there are no fireplaces going and funky Xmas jumpers to wear, it is H O T, it is the ying to the UK’s yang. It can be over 40 degrees celsius for an Australian summer and a thick hot pudding flaming and then served with a brandy cream is not the ideal summer Xmas dessert. The Australian Bush Christmas Pudding is a lighter style of steamed pudding; crammed with premium dried fruit and macadamia nut, made rich with spices and brandy; but with no suet, no breadcrumbs, no dairy, no added salt and no artificial flavours or colours. It is sold in the bowl in which it was made, which means less handling, better hygiene, recyclable packaging and greater convenience on a hot and busy day. I serve this one myself at Xmas every year, and once Annie taught me to flame the pudding with Brandy it is a spectacular entrance to the dining room with a cake on fire. 🙂
There is one other cake that must be mentioned – THE GINGER LOVER’S CAKE. Annie’s purpose for this recipe? She was annoyed at buying ginger cakes that really did not taste like ginger, they tasted like a tea cake with some ginger powder in them. If you want some serious ginger, then you want Annie’s GINGER LOVER’S CAKE. It has five styles of Ginger in the mix; from the fresh, raw ginger to the sweet and spicy preserved product. It has Macadamia Oil instead of animal fats, resulting in a cake that has less than 6 grams of Saturated Fat in total. I used to loathe ginger, such a warm food and one thing I have noticed after eleven years of markets, ginger is an older person’s taste, and I am now getting older, and now I love this cake, slightly warmed in the microwave (or oven) with some vanilla ice cream or, heaven forbid, full cream custard and OMGOMGOMG.
One final product I have to rave about and long for working my next market this coming Saturday. SALTED CARAMEL MACADAMIA NUTS, the title says it all – these are hands down my favourite thing to gobble down when Annie turns her back at the markets 🙂 When we offer samples to foodie market wanderers it is one for them and one for me haha LOVE LOVE LOVE
Annie and Ian have a fantastic website HERE, you can read more about the products, place orders, big and small, they also cater to corporate Xmas orders and they can send all the products including their amazing hampers and gift boxes all over the world for you. You can also suss out the complete list of which markets they, or we, are at for the rest of the year. All the food ranges in prices and make the perfect family Xmas presents, ideal corporate staff presents or stocking fillers for your parents if you are a little tacker on a little tacker budget. You will not be disappointed and once you taste you will never turn back and will join the list of addicts we see queuing to buy products annually. The company stays small, you can ONLY buy via the website or from the markets direct. Seriously get thee to a market stat as the samples and fellow foodies make for such a fun morning. Make sure you say hi and allow THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH CHRISTMAS CAKE COMPANY to commence your addiction :).