Meet Michel Mussett, a woman from Castlemaine who bakes some of the best biscuits in the country, all from her backyard bakery in Castlemaine. For around 20 years, Michel has been producing award-winning deliciously dense, rich and buttery biscuits under the label Michel's Fine Biscuit Co Castlemaine and Castlemaine Fine Biscuit Co. All from a shed that initially began its life as her late husband Bill's garage. Her passion for creating delectable treats is palpable.
However, her success within the industry has been anything but smooth. "When I started, I had been made redundant from my accounts payable job" says Michel. Who explained she returned home one Friday night with no job and said to her husband, "I think I want to start my own business and make fruit mince pies and short-breads, and then biscuits for the rest of the year." Luckily Bill thought it was a great idea and set out to turn his shed into the biscuit bakery. He made all the trolleys, trays and decked it out with stainless steel workbenches and shelving, and it still stands the test of time today.
This was not a spur of the moment idea. Michel grew up eating her mother's famous scones that were served in her family's restaurant in the Dandenongs. Baking is in her blood; she had forever made lovely little fruit mince pies and experimented with biscuits.
From here, she borrowed money and purchased a mixer, and nine months later, she had gathered a team around her and began hand rolling her delicious creations. "It did take a good five or six years before we started making money, which I thought we were never going to do", laughs Michel. "They're very much artisan biscuits, I was set on doing something different, and I didn't want to follow what the trends were," Michel says, before explaining she decided to fill her biscuits with chocolate and then experiment with fresh fruit. This led to the first biscuit being made - the pistachio and white Belgian chocolate. "That is when my business started to take off because of the point of difference" she says. Michel fails to mention this was huge; her creation was an explosion, the orders flooded in, including some from the top hotels in Melbourne!
Castlemaine Fine Biscuit Co also proudly sources as many local fresh and organic ingredients as possible. Their raspberries and blackberries are grown in the Yarra Valley. The lemons, limes and oranges used are grown in Mildura. Their salts and olive oils are from Mt Zero in the Grampians, and their pistachios, almonds and macadamias are all Australian. There are many more ingredients, all Australian grown, with many being purchased fresh at farmers markets that Michel attends herself. Are you wondering about the Couverture Chocolate used to fill the biscuits? Well, it's Belgian, and it is the world's finest – they haven't found any other chocolate of the same quality produced in Australia.
And once you taste any of the biscuits using the chocolate, you will understand why.
Quality is at the heart of Michel's Fine Biscuit Co, which is why Bridget needed to have her produce within The Hamilton Hamper. "I love being part of Bridget's Hampers; people love the small artisan producer, whether it be tea towels, jam or biscuits. They love the thought of it being Regional, handmade and special" she says, "we're only with one hamper company because they just don't normally work, but Bridget has made it work, and she has done it beautifully." When asked if being in the Hamper has been beneficial for her business, Michel explained it has and The Hamilton Hamper has become one of their top five retail clients and are a pleasure to work with. She also recounted this story, "a couple came into the bakery and mentioned they had been touring around regional Victoria and had found my biscuits within a store in Hamilton [The Hamilton hamper] and could not get over the quality or how delicious the biscuits were. Which in turn, led them to detour to Castlemaine to visit the bakery personally to buy more products." This is at the heart of the passion behind The Hamilton Hamper – quality produce from regional businesses.
So what are you waiting for? Head to Castlemaine Fine Biscuit Co website and order your goodies today; a few years ago, a survey was done to find the Top 5 Biscuits in Victoria, and they were voted No. 1! Even better still, go and visit Michel in Castlemaine.
We find it hard to pick a favourite from here tasty collection, as we love them all savoury or sweet something for all occasions. Michel recommends the Anzac with White Belgian Chocolate - a leading
We love the products that Michel and her team create and are immensely proud to feature them in our curated gourmet hampers.
Feel like doing some baking, why not some ANZAC biscuits - Michel has generously shared her recipe with us! Click here.