Maryborough cook Robert Ullmann received a placement in every cooking entry at this year's Brisbane Ekka.
Maryborough cook Robert Ullmann received a placement in every cooking entry at this year's Brisbane Ekka. boni holmes

The master reveals his ingredient

ROBERT Ullmann has literally taken the cake at this year's Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane.

The baking-obsessed Maryborough man managed to place in every cake competition he entered, no small feat even for a person with 20 years experience in regional and state show competitions.

Mr Ullmann was chuffed to return to the Heritage City with ribbons and rosettes, declared the fruit cake champion at the Brisbane Ekka.

Although humbled by his winnings, Mr Ullmann was proud to have mastered the perfect dark rich fruit cake with a modified recipe of his mother's.

"My daughter used the same recipe and came in second," he said.

"The secret is rum."

It is the only secret ingredient Mr Ullmann was willing to give away.

"I use an old conventional oven - nothing fancy," he said.

"I am very particular with my cake, especially lining the tin, make sure it is nice and square.

"I have no idea why it is such a winner."

A comment from one of the state judges was 'a good cake indeed, with nicely presented appearance and well prepared fruit, baking is evenly achieved. First, second and third were very even - a result to be pleased with'.

Mr Ullmann had entered seven cakes at this year's Ekka - winning three first places, three second places and one third place.

"This has never happened where all my entries have got a placement in the 20-plus years I have been entering," he beamed.

"I was pretty chuffed.

"It's also pretty good to win the state and the Ekka in the same year."

Robert received three rosettes for his efforts - including one for Most Successful Fruit Cake exhibitor.

Robert said after winning the Ekka five years in a row he would give it a miss.

"What I do works - it is successful for me.

"I might have to retract that statement."

There was plenty of professional representation of the Fraser Coast at this year's Ekka, with award winning liqueur makers Lychee Divine a popular stop for visitors.


Smithfield Street, Market Gympie. John Pool from Lychee Divine, Tinana selling award winning Liquers.   Photo Greg Miller / Gympie Times
John Pool from Lychee Divine, Tinana with his award winning Liqueurs. Greg Miller

Fraser Coast lychee grower John Pool and store assistant Chloe Oakes had a stall in the main food pavilion with a selection of drinks which have been a mainstay of the Ekka for about five years.

"It's a great way of promoting our products and the region," John said.

"We've been growing lychees for over 20 years and we have been on the coast for about 12 years.

"In 2010, we won our first awards for our liqueurs and we have grown from there."

Using a special machine to peel and de-seed the fruit, John said turning the fruit into liquid consumables took significant effort.

"Our production season is over the Christmas period from late December to February," he said.

About 50 tonnes of the fruit is sent to market And the remaining 10 tonnes is processed for the bottles of alcohol.

Last year, there was barely a crop because of unseasonable weather but John expects his crop to reach its full potential this year.

"Last year we had a very warm winter so the cold weather was not there to initiate the flowering," John said.

"This year, we have had some cold temperatures and the trees look like they are going to flower as normal."