‘The Great British Baking Show’ winner Edd Kimber on his new cookbook and seducing with sweets

Now 13 seasons strong, The Great British Baking Show continues to mesmerize fans with the allure of a Paul Hollywood handshake and confectionary showstoppers. Way back in Season One, Edd Kimber, “the boy who bakes” from Bradford (about three hours north of London), set the bar high with a winning tea party that included chocolate and ginger tarts, lemon scones with passion fruit curd, raspberry choux buns, and finger sandwiches.

Six cookbooks later, the former debt collector has harnessed his culinary prowess for everyday bakers with a passion for patisserie. Kimber has also served as a role model for other LGBTQ chefs, home bakers, and cooking show contestants—this season’s Janusz Domagalacontinues the legacy of queer competitors.

Queerty caught up with Kimber at the end of his U.S. book tour for his latest title, Small Batch Bakes. Size isn’t everything in this collection of pastries, cookies, cakes, and breads. Kimber offers some sweet advice for those who want to level up their baking game, clean out the kitchen drawers of unnecessary utensils, and

Related: How queer chefs are rewriting the recipe for success

Your new book, Small Batch Bakes, offers scaled-down recipes for one to six people, but what is one sweet treat for which you can exhibit no self-control?

Nothing beats a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie, still a little warm with lots of melty chocolate. Just pure heaven.

You’re the OG Great British Bake Off winner. What advice would you give to amateur bakers who want to appear on a reality cooking show? And what was your big takeaway?

Go in with your eyes wide open! There are so many competition cooking shows on TV these days that if you’re going in thinking it’s going to make you rich and famous, know that the chances are slimmer than you think. Do it because you think it will be a fun experience and everything else is a bonus.

I have seen far too many people go on a show like The Great British Baking Show, quit their jobs because they’ve been sold an idea that it will change their lives, and to then completely crash when that doesn’t become their reality. If you do get on a show, know your sh*t. I think the people who do well on any of these shows are the people who really know their topic inside and out; it gives you confidence and helps you stay grounded when random challenges are thrown your way.

When the show ended for me, there was a big “well, what now?” and it took a while before I found what I actually wanted to pursue: writing cookbooks really suits my personality and the way I like to work, and I have been very single-minded on following that path. I found that the TV world is very fickle, and so whilst I love doing TV, it has never been in my long-term plan. If it comes along, I am very happy to do it but making it my aim would be setting myself up for a lot of disappointment. Also, if you’re going to do any type of show, you need a thick skin. Social media will comment [on] and criticize you for everything you do. You need to learn not to look at what people are saying about you; it can be nice, but it can also be completely brutal!

Related: Antoni Porowski says he never set out to become a sex symbol

Since first airing, The Great British Bake Off has continued to become even more popular and LGBTQ-inclusive. Is there a piece of pop culture—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, etc. that you consider a big part of your coming-out journey? Why does it stand out to you?

Oh, absolutely! When I was in my first year at university, just before I started to come out, I snuck into the LGBT Society’s film night and watched a couple of films. The first was The Laramie Project, a devastatingly sad film about the murder of Matthew Shepard.

The other was A Beautiful Thing, a British film that I would bet most British gay folks of a certain age will have seen, it was a 90’s classic. It’s an adaption of a Johnathan Harvey play, which I also had the pleasure of seeing when it was revived for its 20th anniversary a few years back. It’s a coming-of-age story between two teenage neighbors, and it has some sad and melancholic moments, but ultimately, it is just a beautiful love story. As sappy as it seems, I remember thinking how much I wanted that same sort of relationship, and like a lot of closeted teenagers, it gave me hope and a bit of a push to finally come out.

Related: Eric Kim on coming out, the perfect fried chicken, and why he prefers a round table

You’ve written six cookbooks and traveled extensively. Where is your favorite destination for baked goods, and what’s unique about it?

I don’t know if I can truly choose a single place. Traveling is one of my main sources of inspiration. I am like a sponge, just soaking up ideas wherever I go. I just finished my U.S. book tour, and after visiting countless bakeries and hanging out in the kitchens with a whole host of bakers, I have come back with some many ideas for new projects.

One of the most inspiring trips was my first visit to Japan. The traditional baking you find in Japan is completely different from what I would find in London, but the Japanese also seem to have a love for European and American baking, especially French baking. The marriage of the two traditions creates some really special baking that is really unique to Japan.

Who is the most famous person you’ve ever baked for? What was your experience like meeting them? Did they live up to your expectations?

Ooh, I’m not sure I am allowed to say who that was. I was commissioned by a well-known food writer to bake some Paris-Brest for one of the most famous people in food, and I was so thrilled to have done so, just because growing up that person was a big inspiration. Most of the famous people who have tried my food have been through different TV shows, although I was commissioned to make a birthday cake for the actor Mark Gatiss.

Let’s play “keep it or leave it.” What’s the most essential baking tool in your pantry? And what’s the most overrated?

Keep—electric mixer. You don’t need a super expensive model, but some form of electric mixer like a hand mixer or stand mixer can be so useful and time-saving.

Leave it—measuring cups! Just buy an electronic scale. They are cheap and make your baking so much more accurate, and most importantly, there’s also less washing up!

Same for ingredients—what do you love to bake with, and what’s a “not in my kitchen” item?

Keep—chocolate. My favorite ingredient, it is such a fun thing to use and can be paired in so many different ways that I never bore of using it.

Leave It—the combination of chocolate and raspberry. I love fruit with chocolate, but raspberry just doesn’t work well for me — I have never truly loved a dessert made with the two together.

Have you ever tried seducing a romantic interest with baked goods? If so, what did you make, and was it a success?

I am terrible on dates; I get super awkward and either play it way too keen but, more likely, way too coy. Thankfully, a pie did snag me my boyfriend, who I have been with for six years. Talk about cliches. On our second or third date, I said I would cook. It was in the middle of winter, so I made a warming chicken, mustard, and tarragon pie. The only problem was that I got flustered and forgot to make any sides, so when it came time for dinner, I just served a whole chicken pie on its own. Thankfully it must have been pretty decent because he still asks for it all these years later.

Who is another queer chef or baker that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

I love the work of my friend Nik Sharma, his scientific background makes his food writing different and really fascinating. Kelly Fields, formerly of the restaurant Willa Jean, has a wonderful book called The Good Book of Southern Baking. Jesse Szewczyk is another friend who has written a fabulous book, this one on cookies, called Cookies: The New Classics. I am also a big fan of Rick Martinez, whose recent book on Mexican food [Mi Cocina] is just brilliant!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *