“It’s all about simple things done well,” says baker and Christmas cake maker extraordinaire Andrew Fearnside. Andrew, the owner and artisan baker of Wild Wheat Bakery is a perfectionist and the secret of his perfect Christmas cake and authentic festive stollen is summed up by one word: patience!
Andrew’s passion for artisan baked products took him by surprise when he was working as a chef in London. When given the opportunity to work at the highly regarded in-house bakery of Le Pont de la Tour he realised he was in for a career change.
Andrew started Wild Wheat in 1999, opening his first shop in Auckland’s Mount Eden Road where he began turning out his now famous sour-dough artisan breads. Using the age-old sourdough process of fermentation based on a natural fermented apple starter, Andrew was able to generate natural yeasts to bake his breads. And this was when his patience began to ferment too. The time it takes to make one sourdough loaf from start to finish is around 36 hours. But the flavour, the texture and the crispy crust make every minute of the process worthwhile.
So it comes as no surprise that when Andrew decides to bake Christmas cakes, it’s not a last minute affair; he starts months before Christmas, soaking the fruit in a heady mix of rum and brandy before mixing in chocolate, almonds and a selection of spices. Once made he gives them all a hearty tipple of rum and brandy every day for three weeks before topping with toasted almonds and a rich marmalade glaze. Wild Wheat’s combination of patient technique and the best ingredients results in a moist, dark Christmas cake with exceptional flavour and keeping qualities. But buyers beware: it’s a case of first come first served. Like all true artists, there’s no mass-production here. Only 70 Wild Wheat Christmas cakes are made a year so be in quick with your order!
If you miss out on a cake, you might just be lucky enough to get hold of one of Wild Wheat’s Christmas Stollen. A yeasty festive loaf of German origin, the stollen has become increasingly popular in New Zealand over recent years. With the same attention to detail, Wild Wheat’s rustic stollen is bursting with rum-soaked fruit, mixed peel, red cherries and spicy flavour. Andrew’s special ingredient is the marzipan that runs through the middle of each loaf; he makes it himself and enhances it with a shot of Amaretto liqueur. Andrew says that he never tires of eating the stollen. No wonder! Wild Wheat bakes its sour-dough stollen right up until December 24th so there’s still time to get your order in.
Wild Wheat Handmade Christmas 1.5 kg Cake $50 and Wild Wheat 400 gram Christmas Stollen $9.50
Available from Wild Wheat Bakeries in Mount Eden, Belmont, Takapuna and Howick.
For orders phone 09 5775164 or visit the website www.wildwheat.co.nz.