In Conversations With Baking Mastermind Edd Kimber

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Most of you will know Edd Kimber. As the original Bake Off winner with subsequent cookbooks full of star-bakes, he’s the baker all of us wannabes aspire to.

Now that we’re giving away his book Patisserie Made Simple, an ode to everything French patisserie with the aim of bringing macarons to the masses, we caught up with him to talk all things from the book, his go-to kitchen essential and the three skills any aspiring baker needs to master.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
“I am a baker, food writer, occasional food stylist and wannabe food photographer. Basically if there is food involved I’m into it!”

Tell us a little about the book and how it differs from your previous ones?
“This is the book I’m proudest off, by far. To research it I travelled across France and spent a lot of time eating as many pastries as I could whilst exploring this country that I love. I also spent a good chunk of time in Paris which to be honest I would be doing even if I wasn’t writing the book, I’m obsessed with french baking and I have spent more time in France than in any other country except back home in the UK. The reputation of french baking and of patisserie is that its fussy and impossible for the home baker to replicate and my aim with this book was to make patisserie approachable and achievable for the home baker. This meant simplifying recipes where possible and trying to use equipment an avid homemaker might already have rather than expensive professional kit. Because it is aimed at home bakers the recipes stretch from the simplest cookies and desserts all the way up to elegant layered cakes you find in the most beautiful patisseries.”

What’s your favourite recipe from the book?
“That’s the impossible question! Its difficult but I would say the recipe I personally make the most is the chocolate sables. It is a simple chocolate cookie but I refer to it as the little black dress of cookies, its adaptable and can suit all different types of occasions, plus its pretty damn tasty too!”

What or who inspires you?
“I have been doing this job now for nearly eight years and the thing that inspires me more and more is travel. I love travelling to a new country, soaking up everything it has to offer, eating my around the country, discovering new things. I never get bored of it! I get so excited by a new place I end up with so many recipe ideas that end up taking me months if not years to get tried out.”

What’s your can’t-live-without kitchen essential?
“It has to be my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. It’s the piece of kit that really helps me do my job more efficiently, I have a beautiful orange model that I’m kind of obsessed with.”

What’s your go-to comfort food?
“I make a beef shin ragu that is pure comfort in a bowl. It takes hours of gentle cooking, one of those dishes that fills the kitchen with wonderful aromas. On a cold London weekend, I can’t think of anything better than being curled up with my boyfriend, watching a crappy movie, only half paying attention, a big pot of this ragu cooking, and a wonderful bottle of red wine.”

What’re 3 essential skills any aspiring baker needs to master?
“Accuracy, patience and muscle memory. The first is obvious, baking has a lot in common with science so following a recipe to the letter is key, especially when you are starting out. Patience is also probably a given, baking takes time and its hard to rush, so slow down and enjoy the relaxing side of baking. Now the third one might seem a little strange but like with most skills, the more you do it the easier it becomes. When baking things like bread your intuition comes into play in a big way, use your hands to see how a dough feels, feel the texture of a finished buttercream. In no time recipes, you make all the time will become second nature.”

Who in the world would you most like to cook for?
“My Nanna. She sadly passed away when I was three so I don’t have really strong memories of her. She still managed to play a big role in my life and especially in my baking though. Her recipes, especially her Sticky Gingerbread (published in my first book The Boy Who Bakes), are legendary in our family and I grew up hearing many stories about her baking. I’d like to think I would have made her proud doing what I do and I would love to cook her a meal and hear her stories firsthand.”

edd kimber

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what/where would you be?
“I have thought about this a lot over the years and the only job I can imagine gaining as much satisfaction from and being any good at would be a food photographer. It marries my two passions and I’m doing more and more of it anyway so who knows, maybe one day I’ll end up shooting my own books.”

Where’s home for you?
“I live in Hackney, London. I moved to London 7 years ago and I absolutely love it, despite it occasionally being an incredibly frustrating place to live.”

Favourite local coffee shop there?
“Allpress Dalston is one of my regular haunts, they serve great coffee and it’s a massive coffee shop so I will often go there to write.”

Favourite places to eat out?
“I am a huge fan of Jose Pizzaro’s Spanish cooking and I’m a big tapas fan so I love his original restaurant Jose on Bermondsey Street, it has wonderful food of course but also a brilliant environment and the welcome is so friendly, I love it.”

What do you khoollect?
“I don’t think I actively collect anything although my selection of ceramics and vintage cookware for my food styling is growing so large it could have its own small museum!”

Favourite item in your khoollection?
“That’s almost too hard to narrow down, maybe my vintage pie plates I picked up at a flea market in Brooklyn a couple years back.”

What advice do you have for people trying to get into the food industry?
“I think this goes for all jobs really but the best piece of advice I was ever given was ‘do what you love’. Every job is hard and has its peculiarities and frustrations but at least if you love what you are doing you will enjoy every minute. I have always put my enjoyment and satisfaction with work ahead of money, as much as I can anyway.”

What’s one piece of advice you have for your younger self?
“Stop caring what other people think of you, life has a way of working itself out and if you try and please everyone but yourself you’ll end up miserable.”


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