Ipswich cake master has another shot at the Ekka
MAREE Harvey's knack for baking up a show-stopping fruit cake has been the result of 30 years of training.
A multiple Ipswich Show and Ekka champion and regular show judge, the baking expert knows just what the panel is looking for when it comes to that dense, fruity and rummy goodness that only the serious dark rich fruit cake competitors can deliver.
After cleaning up at the West Moreton and Brisbane Valley Sub Chamber final at Esk this year, Ms Harvey will represent her region at this year's Ekka.
Ms Harvey said she was excited to accept the regional trophy, which she won for Ipswich ahead of other entries from the likes of Gatton, Esk, Marburg and Toogoolawah.
"I enter seven local shows and the Ekka every year, as I have been for the past 30 years," she said.
"I was originally encouraged by my mum and our elderly neighbour."
The secret to success could well lie in the rum used to make one of Ms Harvey's fruit cakes.
On the advice of a fellow baker, she recently switched from the Queensland staple of Bundaberg Rum, to a more local drop, Beenleigh Rum, for its mellower flavour.
Ms Harvey also insists on cutting the fruit up and letting in soak in rum overnight.
"Presentation and a good recipe are a must," she said.
"My cakes are designed to eat. The judge's not only look at the cakes but taste them as well.
"I take my time making them. You bake them for four hours, starting at 140C and backing off the temperature by about 10C each hour."
In addition to entering this year's Ekka fruit cake competition, Ms Harvey will act as a judge in several other of the food categories. She is also a passionate baker of butter cakes, and enters jams and marmalades in the shows.