Bake Off’s Edd Kimber: I never expected to win
PUBLISHED: 10:35 19 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:16 24 October 2015
The first ever winner of the Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber talks growing up in Yorkshire, inspiration, Patisserie Made Simple, and what’s next.
Firstly, hello! What have you been up to today?
Today, I’m currently working on a batch of new recipes for a proposal for a new book
Amazing, so your 4th book...
Yes, I’m just at very early stages, planning what it might be before we start pitching it to try and get it published - but it’s looking very nice (laughs).
How has life changed for you since the Great British Bake Off?
I always say that it changed in every way that I could want it to change, in a nice way. I had a job before that I didn’t really like and I kind of felt very stuck in a rut. So, doing the show for me was only ever about trying to somehow make baking into a career and into a life. Obviously, the main thing is that I have been able to do that everyday since. I have been offered amazing opportunities. I’ve written three books – the third is just about to be published in America. I do television regularly, I write for a food magazine – things I never expected.
What did you learn from the Great British Bake Off?
It gave me more confidence, definitely. I went on the show a little bit shy and with a little bit of low confidence and the show kind of beats that out of you. So, it gave me a boost personally, but also I think it gave me knowledge that I was probably better at baking than I actually assumed I was. Only because, when you bake for family and friends, there is always so much praise – when you go on a show and you have 10 strangers plus judges, presenters and crew all telling you that you’re really good, it boosts your ego a little bit. It made me think “actually, maybe I can do this job”.
What was the response like from your local community?
It was really funny, the local paper did an interview with me and they seem to rerun it every few months - some version of the interview gets rewritten, so that’s nice.
I actually lived in Bradford at the time and I was living there probably three or four months after the show, it was nice to go into Sainsbury’s where I used to work when I was a teenager and people would say ‘Hi’ and ‘congratulations’. I always say that Yorkshire is a very friendly place.
Are you still in touch with the other contestants?
Yeah, it gets tricky because everyone’s life is so busy, but I do keep in contact with everyone from the series, especially Ruth and Miranda, just because I get to see them more. We all got on really well on the show.. You meet people who have a very similar interest but come from a very different background so end up making some really nice friends, which is great.
Did you get a lot of interaction with the judges outside the tent?
No, you get none when you’re on the show. They try and keep it that way because they try to keep everyone from getting attached to make decisions fair. When you’re not filming the contestants are ushered to one area and presenters and judges to another. You have a little chat with them when you’re getting ready to film but generally you are kept apart.
When you take a break from baking, what are your favourite things to do in Yorkshire?
Yorkshire for me now is about family, when I come home it’s to see family and catch up. It’s the place I go to relax. London is a very busy, loud, smoggy city sometimes, so whilst I love it, I also love to escape so going home to see family is always a really nice thing to do.
How has growing up in Yorkshire influenced your baking?
I think in some ways it’s a bit of a joint thing because my mum is from Lancashire and my dad is from Yorkshire.
Growing up we didn’t really eat a lot of processed stuff and my mum is a very passionate cook, so we almost grew up baking and it was always very traditional. I would say though, because it was my mum that was doing the baking a lot of it was from Lancashire.
We joke to my mum that because she has lived in Yorkshire more than she ever did in Lancashire, she is now officially a Yorkshire resident. It’s a mix of very humble northern baking, like my nana’s Parkin recipe, Victoria sponge and puddings. It was all very simple, humble stuff and it definitely gave me my chance to start off.
Where do you like to go out for food in Yorkshire?
I don’t get home as often as I’d like to, I live in London now. When I do come home one of things my mum and dad always say to me is ‘do you want to go for a curry?’, because we live in Bradford and, surprisingly, it’s very difficult to get a good curry in London. So when I go home I definitely have a curry.
What inspires you most when baking?
My inspiration comes from all over the place really. It comes from family; my first book was filled with my mum and my nana and my grandma’s recipes. It comes from travel, I keep a notebook on me most of the time, so if I’m ever just wandering down a street and I see something in a shop window or if I’m at the fruit and veg shop and I see something, often an idea will spring up, but I have a terrible memory so I write them all down.
It happens when I’m on holiday as well, I was in Greece and there were these doughnuts, they were really classic Loukoumade’s and I kind of had this idea. I think because I write so many recipes a year I look at anything and everything to spark an idea.
What is your favourite thing to bake and to eat?
I’m one of those people where my mood can change very quickly and I can want something one minute and not another, so it really depends what I’m working on. If I’m working on a big project that’s all about baking then I can just crave something utterly opposite and savoury if I’m working on something savoury then my sweet tooth kicks in.
This morning I did some very, very sweet recipes, I may have tried I little bit too much, so right now I’m craving salad. I made these white chocolate biscuits and I kept checking the texture of the filling to make sure it was right. White chocolate is very sweet, so, now I have that slight sugar crash.
I think it’s one of those things where if you bake the way I do, you eat a little too much. If you’re just baking for your friends and family it’s not an issue. You know, it’s that balance thing, but for some reason, this morning I forgot about that.
What would your top tips be for our readers who want to take their creations to the next level?
I always say that one of the best things you can try is just something as simple as a Victoria sponge because it teaches you a lot about baking, it has the basic techniques. Also, it’s very easy to understand where you went wrong.
If you want to take things further, don’t feel scared to experiment and fail. When you do, you learn more through failure than you do success. If you made a cake perfectly once and assume you could make it that way every time, you haven’t learnt anything - but if you could understand what went wrong then you won’t make that mistake again.
You’ve written a recipe book, Patisserie Made Simple, and this was also a running theme in your Bake Off creations – what made you so interested in French baking?
It was Paris really, when I was a kid we would go there camping in the summer and I have lots of strong memories of being sent to the bakery in the mornings and buying croissants for my mum and dad. Then when I was 18, I was studying at university in my first year, we were watching some TV about Paris – and I’d never been before and we said ‘should we go to Paris this weekend?!’, so we did.
I fell in love with Paris from the get go, but it was when we were south of the river and we went to this place I’d never heard before called Pierre Herme, that it turnedout was home to one of the best pastry chef’s in the world. He had this beautiful patisserie and it was the first time I ever tried a macaron, it kind of blew me away. I came home and had this running through my head; I would practice and practice and practice until I mastered them. Ever since then, I’ve gone back to Paris a lot; it’s one of my favourite places.
We’ve simplified it (the book) and made it accessible for home bakers, with equipment you can normally find at home and ingredients you can find from the supermarket, because patisserie is normally a little exclusionary in that way. It’s turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done; it’s the most beautiful book I’ve ever written and I’m extremely proud of it.
It's getting near! The U.S. version of my book #patisseriemadesimple just popped into my postbox, it's published on the 7th of October! I wanted the book to be accessible and also accurate, it's about patisserie after all, so the book is in both cups and in grams. Tag your American friends who you think will like it! @kylebooksuk
If all this talk of baking has got you running for the kitchen, head over to Great British Life to find the best baking accessories. [ http://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/featured/baking ]
Edd’s latest book is Patisserie Made Simple, published by Kyle Books. Priced at £19.99. Photography by Laura Edwards