Edd Kimber sounds astonished to receive emails from doctoral students hoping to help with their theses on the cultural significance of The Great British Bake Off. His qualification, of course, is that he was the very first winner.
Ten years ago, the modest Bradford bank collector signed up for a brand new, quiet show on BBC2. He won, stopped collecting debts and just finished his fourth recipe book.
It is fitting that we catch up with Edd, just as the Covid crisis made us all fly to our ovens. And, he says, you don’t need a doctorate to understand why.
‘It’s about the joy of making something yourself, turning butter, sugar and flour into a million different recipes.
Moreover, it is an escape. You can almost turn your mind off. And you can do it with kids. ‘
Edd Kimber (pictured) from Bradford, the first ever winner of The Great British Bake Off, pondered his time on the BBC2 show
Much of his own work (contributing to several foodie magazines and regularly attending food shows) dried up at the close, and he wasn’t sure it was the right time to release a new book on baking .
I suggest his timing is unintentionally brilliant. The new book, One Tin Bakes, is out now – clever, each recipe is baked in a 23cm x 33cm pan, which he says is the most versatile you’ll find.
“People always say they are put off because they don’t have a particular look. I wanted to show that you can do 70 recipes in the same can and also customize your own recipes. ‘
Bakes range from a simple vanilla-skinned cake to an ambitious pistachio crème brûlée tart with honey-roasted apricots.
“Some recipes are very simple,” he says. “Others are for the more adventurous.”
It’s interesting how this Bake Off winner managed to create a career for himself without a blueprint. “If you win now, it is almost inevitable that you will make a book,” he says. “But I had no expectations but a career in the bakery.”
Edd was quite adrift when he signed up for a show that no one had heard of before. At the age of 24, he had a degree in politics, but he started working in a bank’s legal department – a job he hated.
Former bank debtor Edd explained that he has always had a passion for baking, and over the years Bake Off has become more about personalities than the history of baking. Pictured: Edd won the inaugural Bake Off trophy in 2010
Baking was his passion, but he was turned down for a place on a catering course. Then this niche show came about baking.
Remember the early Bake Offs with their (dare we say it) boring historical pieces that trace the origins of baked goods? It was very BBC2.
“It was commissioned by the BBC documentary folks,” says Edd, “and that’s why the historical pieces were there. Over the years it has become more about personalities. ‘
Doesn’t he mind that those who came after him enjoyed that side more? Nadiya Hussain has her own TV programs – about travel and cooking.
“She has magnetism,” he says. “I don’t think I have the exuberant personality for certain types of TV.”
He says he now “watches” the show, but doesn’t watch it addictively. “It’s hard when you’re on it.”
So does he still see Mary, Paul et al? “Before, but I haven’t seen presenters or jury members in years. I have beautiful memories and I will always be grateful, but how many people have lived with them since? Hundreds maybe. ‘
Recently it turned out that filming was stopped in the very first episode because presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc felt uncomfortable with the ‘unfriendly’ approach.
Edd (photo) and his four-year-old partner, a lawyer, have spent more time baking than usual
“In fact, we quit because they pointed cameras at the faces of the bakers and said,” Tell us about your dead grandma, “Sue revealed. “We had hard words.”
Edd remembers it well.
“I didn’t know what it was about then. I don’t remember it being dirty or hostile, but I do remember production temporarily stopping. I think it was the best decision because otherwise it just wouldn’t have been the same. ‘
Life turned for him after Bake Off. A period at Raymond Blanc’s Manoir aux Quat’Saisons near Oxford boosted his confidence and found personal happiness.
For the past four years, he has been with his partner, a lawyer, and when closed, they have both eaten more of Edd’s baking than usual.
“I usually have meetings and bring cakes. Or I would see friends. “The staff at a local restaurant took advantage of this, and friends and neighbors found random treats on the doorstep.
A home-baked cake, says Edd, is always received with a smile. “If someone has taken the time and effort to make something, it feels special.”