Kim-Joy filled the tent with colour and creative treats when she starred on The Great British Bake Off last year. With her new cookbook, Baking with Kim-Joy, available now, we're thrilled that we have a go at making our own Kim-Joy-style cakes and bakes! The book includes such tempting treats as llama cookies, choux-bun turtles and cakes that will be talk of any party. When we asked Kim-Joy where and how she comes up with her unique ideas, we couldn't wait to share her answers with you.
How did you discover your love of baking?
I baked when I was at university on and off, and then I started getting into making bread. About 2 or so years before the Bake Off, I started baking more and getting into different styles of baking and, of course, decorating!
You're known for your creative bakes, how do you come up with ideas for new recipes?
Sometimes I start with a flavour in mind, and then from there think about a theme to decorate it with. Sometimes it's the other way around, and sometimes it's a mixture of the two. So for instance, in the book I made 'pigfiteroles' which are profiteroles but with little strawberry cream-flavoured 'pigs' and covered with chocolate to represent 'mud'. I was inspired because it's the Chinese year of the pig, so I wanted to do something pig themed, and the idea of chocolate being mud seemed really fun. Plus, the name 'pigfiteroles' seemed so perfect - I just had to do it!
What's your favourite recipe from your new book?
It's hard to pick a favourite recipe as I genuinely love them all and put so much time and care into them all. But in particular, I love my recipe for a tiered underwater whale-themed cake. It looks striking but actually I think it is quite achievable by both beginner bakers and more experienced bakers. There are some easy techniques in there which not everyone may have come across, and they look very impressive and difficult to do (but they're actually not!)
How did your time on Bake Off prepare you for writing your cookbook?
For both the Bake Off and writing a cookbook, you have to manage your own time really well, so that definitely prepared me. The Bake Off had a lot more stress too because you're in a competition environment, so in comparison it was lovely to write a book and just have my recipes judged by friends! But mostly, the Bake Off boosted my confidence and helped me believe in my ideas and recognise that they are good enough.
What was the best thing about creating your own cookbook?
The best thing was seeing everything come together: the words, the photos, the layout and illustrations. It's an incredible feeling to think 'I actually did that!' - and it looks amazing and I love it all! I feel like it's a true reflection of me and everything I love, all wrapped up in one book.
What does your kitchen look like?
My kitchen is always in one of two states. It's either super messy and all the surfaces (and floor) is covered because I've been creating something all day; OR it's super tidy because I've just whizzed around to clean it all up. We do use the kitchen a lot though because home-cooked food is a joy, so it's not often in the super tidy state. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Your Bake Off showstoppers were usually quite a spectacle, what's the most elaborate bake you've ever done?
I think some of the most elaborate bakes I have done were in the Bake Off, because they set some very exciting challenges! Creating the Lost City of Atlantis in the final was definitely elaborate. Though it did look a lot better at home (as does everything we practice!), particularly as I was so tired by the time it got to the final! It was really fun to create though. And I've actually used a lot of the techniques I learnt creating that edible landscape to create one of my cakes in the book - which is an ethereal whale underwater cake.
What's your advice for aspiring bakers?
Do what you love, and keep doing it. Most things won't be perfect, but you'll learn lots along the way, and actually some mistakes might turn into the best thing you've ever made. Keep learning things one step at a time, and one day you'll step back and see how far you've come.
Don't forget to get your copy of Baking with Kim-Joy and start creating your own fun bakes. Who knows maybe this time next year, you'll be applying for The Great British Bake Off yourself!