The third series of The Great British Bake Off started this week and attracted its highest viewing figures. Over four million people tuned in to see the first episode proving the show’s continued success. At Great British Chefs we delighted to spend some time with the winner of the very first series, Edd Kimber, aka The Boy Who Bakes. Read on to find discover who influences him, his essential baking tools, top tips for pastry making and how to avoid that soggy bottom!
For newcomers to baking, which cakes would you say were the easiest to bake?
I always suggest people make a victoria sponge first, it’s a classic that most people love and its easy to make. It also shows you the basics of cake baking so is a useful one to find your feet in the kitchen
Who’s your all time favourite baker or chef?
That’s a tough question. One of the pastry chefs that inspired me was Pierre Herme in Paris. I visited his boutique shop almost 10 years ago now and the level of perfection really inspired me, it was through him that I was introduced to macarons which have become a firm favourite of mine, so much so that I even teach classes in how to make them. But one of the many others to inspire me is Claire Clark a brilliant British patissier who I hope will be opening something this side of the Atlantic. I also take a lot of inspiration from chocolatiers including Paul a Young who does wonderful things with flavour and William Curley whose nostalgia range I love.
What are your most essential baking utensils?
My favourite tool is an offset spatula, both a small and large model. They are my use all tool. I use the small one every day and the larger version is perfect for icing larger cakes, giving a great smooth coverage.
Chocolate or fruit? Which do you find features more often in your cakes?
Can I choose both? I love pairing fruit and chocolate just today I made a ganache which uses passionfruit instead of cream, a perfect pairing. In the end I would probably have to use chocolate I use an awful lot of the stuff.
What are your top tips for making pastry?
Keep it cool. Hot hands make greasy pastry so take care to chill the pastry properly and if you do struggle with hot hands you can make great pastry in a food processor, which is also faster too.
Which challenge did you find hardest or most nerve wracking during the show?
I loved filming the show but when we filmed it the time pressures were much harder, we only got each weeks recipe requests a few days ahead of time so practising our recipes whilst working full time was very tricky. In the last two series the recipe requests were sent out weeks in advance so they have more time to prepare. In terms of challenge I was expecting bread to be my biggest challenge, it wasnt something I was very confident with but Paul said I was actually very good at bread so that gave me a lot of confidence going forward.
Looking back on all the cakes you’ve made, what’s your ultimate “show stopper cake”?
In my new book Say It With Cake (out in Sept) I have made a macaron tower, think Croquembouche but made from macarons. It has two type of macarons that swirl there way around the tower, it is a stunning wedding cake and its pretty different from the normal sugarpaste covered cakes.
You’ve now started your own bakery business - how have you found baking for large numbers?
I enjoy baking in larger numbers and actually dont find it that much different from baking a single batch, there is a rhythm and a flow to batch baking I really enjoy, I can’t wait to get started on the business and the first weekend at Maltby Street Market will be the 8th of September.
You were lucky enough to work in the pastry kitchen of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, what were some of the most valuable lessons you gained from that experience?
I was so lucky that the first professional kitchen I ever worked in was Le Manoir, it was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot. Not necessarily recipes but how a restaurant kitchen works, it was also my first experience of service so overall it was a great experience.
Finally, (have to ask this) what’s the best way to ensure you don’t get a soggy bottom?
Blind baking is the best way. Pre-baking gives the pastry a little extra chance and if you are using a very liquid filling like a lemon tart once you have blind baked the tart you can also brush with an egg yolk before adding the filling, this will create an extra barrier and help ensure a crisp base.