Edd Kimber: The Boy Who Bakes
by Amy Davies | 03 October 2011 | 0 commentsTweet
Edd Kimber reveals his journey from debt collector to Great British Bake Off winner, Raymond Blanc protégé, book publisher and macaron master.
Edd Kimber owes his success to a television programme which he very nearly didn't apply for. “I threw it away thinking it's not for me,” he tells us. “I thought I didn't want to be on TV, but eventually a few people convinced me that I had nothing to lose.” After a gruelling set of auditions, screen tests and mini-bake offs, he eventually made it to the final shows.
The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is filmed in an era of X Factor dramatics, so you'd be forgiven for assuming the set is as intense as they come. Edd, however, tells a different story. “It is intense, but it's definitely more relaxed than it appears on TV,” he explains. “It was a really nice environment to film in. There was an obvious stress element, but I quite enjoyed that.”
At least part of that stress can be attributed to the scrutiny of GBBO judges, the steely Paul Hollywood, and Mary 'Queen of Baking' Berry. It was the former who Edd was most keen to impress: “Paul definitely became the one whose opinion I really respected because he is the professional baker and his judging is very balanced.”
The Boy Who Bakes: The Book
Like Masterchef, winning GBBO carries no prize, but the kudos attached to it has seen him receive an invite to work in none other than Raymond Blanc's kitchen. And earlier this year, his first book The Boy Who Bakes (RRP: £16.99 or £9.69 from Amazon) took the best-seller lists by storm.
Creating his own book finally gave him the creative freedom he had so desperately longed for in his previous life as a “glorified debt collector”.
A keen photographer, Edd would often take the photos for his baking blog, so he has a definite eye for what he wanted when it came to his own book. “We had an amazing photographer, Yuki Sugiura, who has taken the most amazing photos,” he enthuses. “It was a very collaborative process, I chose the photographer, the designer, got to shop for props - it was very exciting.”
Edd has a very rich family history of baking from which he can draw recipes and inspiration from, even if it isn't always to his Mum's liking. “She found out I was messing around with her mum's recipes and gave me a stern telling off, so there's one recipe in there that's word for word how my Nana wrote it down.”
Other recipes in the book are Edd’s interpretations of classics, such as an orange and passionfruit cake, his twist on lemon drizzle.
One of the key skills Edd is known for is his mastery of the macaron. He says it was this recipe that was the hardest to put into words, due to its length. However, he also believes that it is his background in home baking that helps him convey his message to the average readers.
Yet, if you do find yourself struggling to get to grips with macarons, Edd runs classes, which have sold out every time he has hosted one.
Although spending time in Raymond Blanc’s kitchen gave Edd a good grounding in the fundamentals of a professional kitchen, he soon realised it’s not where he belongs. “I always wanted to be a baker, so while I loved working in the kitchen, it did confirm to me that it’s not what I want to do,” he says. “I like making things completely from start to finish, which you rarely do in a professional kitchen.”
Instead, Edd’s long term goal is to open his own bakery, which he is a little coy about but says he hopes will be at the heart of the community. For now, the focus is on his next book: “I love sweet things, but I’m learning more and more that people would like a few more savoury options, and I have a lot of ideas that I’d like to see in print,” he reveals.
Great British Bake Off 2011
This year’s series of the Great British Bake Off has been a smash hit for BBC2, with nearly 4 million watchers tuning in to watch the semi-final, finding a celebrity fan in Lily Allen who tweeted last week that it was the best thing on television.
But for Edd, watching it this year is a surreal experience. “It’s odd because I know the editing, I can see when people are being hidden away and I find it very interesting watching it from an insider’s perspective,” he says.
One of his favourite contestants, Mary-Ann, has made it all the way to the final. “I find her fascinating, she doesn’t really care what the judges think and she wants to do something a little bit different.”
Given the popularity of the show this year, the BBC would be mad not to re-commission the series, so if you’re thinking of applying next year, take some advice from Edd. “You can’t try and bulls**t the application, but you also have to be confident. Oh and don’t say you want to be on TV!”
The Great British Bake Off final will be shown on BBC2 at 8pm on Tuesday 4th October. Edd Kimber’s book, The Boy Who Bakes is available to buy now.
Photography by Yuki Sugiura