Who or what was your biggest inspiration to start baking?
Baking started as something I did with my family specifically my mum. At the weekends we’d make crumbles or scones and at Christmas we made what seemed like enough mince pies to serve the whole street. As I got older I was inspired by the baking I was seeing as I travelled and without really realising it I became hooked, I spent so much of my free time reading about baking or in the kitchen trying out a new recipe. It definitely became an obsession.
Where do you take inspiration from when creating new recipes?
Everywhere really. I have a notebook with me most of the time in which I jot down ideas should I see something that sparks an idea, that could be at a restaurant or a bakery but also just shopping for ingredients or when I’m on holiday. I also like to play a lot with nostalgia so I like to think about those recipes and those treats we had as kids and try and reinterpret them for today’s sensibilities. With my books it’s often sitting down and trying to plot out a new recipe, I might start with a central flavour and think about a pairing to complement it or it might start as a style of recipe and I try and craft flavour around that particular style.
Do you like to carefully plan or just start mixing ingredients and see where it takes you?
With baking there always has to be a plan. Generally I’ll jot down the rough idea of the recipe I’m testing, and then make adjustments once the first test run has happened. It’s trial and error to some degree but centred around accuracy so the recipe can be replicated at home by bakers of all skills.
What would you say your top 5 essential kitchen tools are?
A stand mixer is always at the top of my list because it really can make baking much more efficient but a good quality hand mixer will also be invaluable if you don’t invest in a stand mixer immediately.
Offset spatulas - this might seem like a funny choice but I use these constantly, larger ones for cake decorating and the smaller ones for endless tasks, they’re great for lifting cookies from a baking try, spreading batter into tins etc. Everytime I see them I buy one as I’m always losing them on shoots.
Sheet trays - these American style baking trays, with a lip that goes all around the tray, are invaluable. I like the larger trays (half sheet trays) as my go-to baking tray but even the smallest ones are great for prep to keep my kitchen tidy as I work.
Knives - I like cooking almost as much as I like baking and a good set of knives will help for both. For baking specifically I use my pairing knife and bread knife the most. I tend to prefer Japanese made knives but I also have a few knives made by small artisans here in the UK that are wonderful.
Small prep bowls - I have 20 or so little glass bowls so that I can weigh all my ingredients for a recipe before I start baking, it helps to keep organised.
How often do you treat yourself to new bakeware?
I definitely have a bakeware problem, as it’s my job I have cake tins and bread pans falling out of every cupboard, stashed under the bed and completely filling my loft. Thankfully if you buy good quality bakeware it lasts a very long time.
What is the most challenging bake you have ever attempted? Was it a success?
I think for bakers professional dough sheet croissants are definitely a challenge but they’re also something I love baking, I find the process really therapeutic even if perfecting them to standard I’d want is a definite challenge.
What was your experience like on bake off?
A blur. It’s now almost been 12 years since I applied for the show and both the experience of the show and life after have been a rollercoaster. The show was new to everyone including the people making it so it felt a little manic especially at the start, as everyone found their footing. The baking wasn’t necessarily the part that made me nervous it was the filming. We had to repeat so much, stop in the middle of something so the cameras could catch it, it took a while to get used to baking under that pressure. But really what I take away from it all these years later is fun. I had a brilliant time making the show and am really proud to have been a part of the very first series.
What would you say you enjoyed the most?
The whole experience was fun but hanging out with a great group of bakers and travelling around the country filming this show together was such a great experience because of those people. My fondest moment was the semi final in Mousehole, Cornwall. The baking that week didn’t feel challenging really, we were able to really enjoy the moment. The weather was great, the location was beautiful and for the first time in the whole filming period we all just seemed completely at ease.
And what were the most challenging bits of being on the show?
The practice baking between episodes. I don’t know how it is now but on that first season we filmed on the weekend and I was still working full time and practicing at night during the week, often until 1am. That baking was paid for out of our own pocket too so it actually ended up being surprisingly expensive to be on the show.
What have you been up to since finishing Bake-Off, aside from writing cookbooks? Any exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve made my career since the show primarily as a food writer so apart from my books I’ve written for most of the UK food magazines and am grateful that my writing and recipes have appeared in newspapers and magazines all over the world. But I’ve also been able to do some pretty special things in the last 10 years, things I’d never imagined might happen. I opened a pop-up bakery in Fortnum and Mason, my recent book was on one of the big screens in Time Sq in NYC, I was randomly mentioned in a Marvel TV show, I was flown to the US to film an advert for Yahoo. Life has definitely been more interesting since the show.
Your most recent cookbook – One Tin Bakes Easy – has been a huge success, what was your inspiration for it?
This book and it’s predecessor were all about my readers. I have always tried to make my books accessible and one of the questions I always get is ‘love the recipe can I make it in a different tin’. Not everyone has bakeware hidden all over their house like me so why not write a book that requires just one tin and why not make that tin something incredibly popular that lots of people already have. The book is all about making baking as easy and approachable as possible. When the first book in this series came out it was in the middle of a lockdown and so many people were baking for the first time, I wanted this follow up to be accessible but also very easy. I followed the same one tin format but made all of the recipe for this book even easier. It’s lots of one bowl cakes, no bake treats, recipes that only require 5 ingredients, basically super simple recipes that never compromise on flavour.
You can purchase Edd's latest book from us and as an added bonus if you order this week you can receive a signed copy! With the option to include whom it is addressed to, making it the ultimate gift for the baker in the family.
Lockdown’s have inspired a surge of interest in at home baking - what is the best piece of advice you’d be able to give someone looking to improve their baking skills?
Read the recipe a couple times, get your ingredients weighed out and prepped before you start and don’t go rogue with ingredients until you’ve built up some confidence. If the recipe is well written following it closely should be all you need for success. If you’re actively trying to improve your baking going back to basics will be the best way to improve, get your foundations of baking honed and you’ll be able to make anything.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’re able to share with us?
I have a Christmas collaboration coming in December with Chestnut Bakery here in London so for the first time in quite a while you’ll actually be able to get your hands on my baking!