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Where do you get your ideas for recipes?

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Edd Kimber Edd Kimber | 16:21 UK time, Friday, 1 October 2010

Competing in The Great British Bake Off was the best experience I have ever had. If I think back a year, I would never have imagined where I'd be today. I wouldn't ever have considered applying for a TV show, never mind winning it!

Edd Kimber winning The Great British Bake Off


I was inspired to start baking mainly because of my mum. I had always baked with her as a child, especially at Christmas when I would help to make mince pies, and my passion grew out of that. I got more serious about baking as I left university and one of the books that I started out with was Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”, an excellent encyclopaedic book bursting with ideas. While I have many other baking books now, it is still the one I refer back to.

I found out about the first audition only a day before it happened, so I didn’t have a huge amount of time to come up with new ideas. I had been playing around with a recipe for Bakewell tart for a while and I thought making something traditional might be a good idea. I also made a mint and chocolate cake, which was similar to the one I ended up doing on the show. The idea for that was based on something I had made from one of my favourite recent baking books "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking". I decided to keep the flavour idea, but went with a mint Italian meringue frosting in the middle and a ganache coating on the outside.

During the filming of the programme I was working full-time, so my evenings - and some very late nights - were spent practicing and coming up with new ideas. This really was a challenge. I should probably apologise to my old boss because I spent a bit too much time at work thinking about new ideas and looking up recipes!

When I had my recipe idea, I tested it in the evening and, if there was something to change, that could result in a very late night. Sometimes there just wasn’t enough time for multiple testing. In the first week I wanted to make a good first impression, so I started with something a little different, a caramel and cinnamon cake. I love salted caramel and wanted to put this in the cake somehow. I had heard of cinnamon and dulce de leche cakes, so my cake was a play on that idea.

'Bread week' was more daunting. I’d actually had a nightmare about Paul criticising what I made, so I decided to play it a bit simpler that week. Adding seeds to a loaf was (in my head at least) the simplest way of adding flavour without making the recipe too complex. All I wanted to do was get through another week so that I could make something I was more comfortable with, and that strategy seemed to work well.

It was challenging getting inspired and coming up with ideas for each show. Sometimes I went for more traditional flavours, such as the curd tart or combinations like chocolate and mint. Other times I tried to be more creative. Whatever the recipe I always approached it in the same way. I thought it best to make something that I love because I think we bake best when we do it with love and passion. Whenever I was stuck for an idea I just thought "what would I want to eat?” and I think that worked well.

Not all of my ideas for the show worked out though. In episode two I made oatmeal and raisin cookies using milk powder and white chocolate to add a creaminess, and glucose to give a chewiness. I took them a step further by adding a dessert wine to soak the raisins, inspired by a trip to France where I had eaten raisins soaked in dessert wine and coated in chocolate. Paul wasn’t a fan. He said the flavour wasn't discernible and the recipe really didn’t need the wine. I guess sometimes it’s best to keep it simple.

I absolutely loved the whole competition process even though there were a few stressful moments! In the future I'll look abroad for ideas, as well as trying to be inspired by the people around me. If the show taught me one thing, it’s that the people around you can have great ideas too.

So over to you... How do you get your ideas for recipes, what inspired you to cook and have you ever had any completely off-the-wall recipes that somehow worked? (And go on, admit to those that didn’t.)

Edd Kimber was the winner of BBC Two series The Great British Bake Off.

Read judge Paul Hollywood’s tips about baking and Mary Berry’s advice on buying utensils for baking.


  • Comment number 1.

    Firstly, congratulations on winning; it was well deserved.

    I'm surprised there wasn't a lot more work needed on the more original flavours you used in your cakes etc. Even after over 30 years of baking I still sometimes make mistakes about the effect a change of ingredient will have on a recipe. I'm only really confident when making changes which don't affect the basic ratios of fat, flour, sugar and liquid (including eggs) - eg changing the added dry ingredients such as nuts and dried fruit is usually OK.

    Recently, I've found the greatest inspiration comes from blogs, American ones in particular, where bakers are prepared to be a bit more adventurous in adapting basic recipes and using new flavours. British baking books still seem very conservative in comparison.

    It's interesting that you use Dorie Greenspan's book as one of your main sources, as she certainly is very influential with US bloggers - do you bake with cups or convert the recipes to metric weights?

    One of my best cakes was an adaptation of a basic Madeira cake recipe to make a pistachio and lemon marble loaf - not exactly off the wall, but it took a while to get it right.

    I've also been trying to find the perfect blondie base recipe since I started blogging, and think I've got there at last.

    As for something which didn't work - I tried to make a courgette and pineapple cake, based on a carrot cake recipe. The final result wasn't inedible, but it wasn't much of a cake either - very dense and wet. I still don't really know what went wrong though.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks for your congratulations Sue. Yes I take a lot of influence from American baking and Dorie's books are definitely prolific. When I first started I did bake with cups and think it can be a good way for people to have a go without it seeming too daunting, but I rarely bake with them anymore. I like the accuracy of grams and I think a good electronic scale is a baker’s best friend. So Dorie's book is more like one of those books I have a fondness for rather than one I regularly use.

  • Comment number 3.

    Congratulations on your win Edd.
    I really enjoyed the series and yours is my favourite of the food blogs to date. It's nice to have some decent content and to hear from someone who contributed to a programme rather than being on the other side of the fence as it were.

    Best of luck for the future.

  • Comment number 4.

    Re: Food Blogs

    I agree with Frillz's comment above - a great series and a fine blog post that helps us understand what it was really like to be in the competition and on TV! It must have been really difficult to keep the result shtum for so long.

    Congtratulations all round - looking forward to the nex GB Bake Off


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