Published On: Wed, Oct 9th, 2019

Coffee and cake with… Kim-Joy

We chat to Kim-Joy, The Great British Bake Off 2018 finalist spills the beans on her new book and her plans for the future…

Congratulations on your new book Kim-Joy! Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Thank you! I’m so beyond excited about it! It’s everything I love about baking and decorating, all in one book! So everything is decorated, but there’s a mixture of difficulty levels so everyone can give it a go. Along with beautiful pictures (including step-by-step pics!), illustrations and feel-good motivational quotes. I wanted it to be informative and fun, but also I wanted it to be a little bit more than just your ordinary baking book. I wanted it to feel almost magical and make you feel happier and calmer as you look through it. And I’m so pleased because we’ve achieved exactly that! The whole team at Quadrille have been amazing.


Photograph by Ellis Parrinder

Did you face any challenges when creating your book and how did you overcome them?

You can feel a little pressured when writing a book on your own at home. Especially when you’re trying to make the same thing over and over, but need to keep tweaking it! I overcame it by reminding myself that this is a dream come true, and nowhere near as stressful as the Bake Off was! There is far less pressure. And actually I quite enjoy being at home alone baking, so writing the book was overall a joy.

Where do you get your inspiration from and what is your design process?

I get inspiration from everywhere! Art, flavours from travelling, bakes I come across, stories, colours and patterns. Whenever I get a new idea I try to note it down. Sometimes I will make it right away, and sometimes it’ll get buried in my brain for a while and then I’ll make it ages later. If I come across an image I find really inspiring on my phone, I’ll always screenshot it too. I love to create stories in my bakes, so I try to think about how I can weave that in. I want people to look at my bakes and identify with a character in there!


Photograph by Ellis Parrinder

How would you sum up your style in three words, and why?

Colourful, quirky and fun. I think my style of dress and style of baking are pretty similar too! So I guess that would describe both. I love colour because it just brings things to life and makes people feel better too. I always remember wearing an all-black dress to an interview years ago, and Nabil (my partner) telling me he’d never seen me look so miserable before!

We know your background has always been in caring roles – when did you first get into baking and do you think there is a link between baking and wellbeing?

I started dabbling a bit with baking when I went to University, though of course I was in a shared kitchen with one cupboard to myself so I didn’t do anything too fancy! I was mostly into bread initially; there’s something very relaxing about baking bread. And then there were periods in my life where I baked a little more than others. But I only got into decorating about 1-2 years before the Bake Off! I think there’s definitely a link between baking and wellbeing. There’s structure so that’s reassuring, but alongside that, you can also express your creativity. You can really make your bake your own. And when life feels a little out of control, that’s a nice feeling. It also requires you to focus and lose yourself in what you’re doing, and any hobby or activity that lets you be mindful like that is a very useful thing for your wellbeing.


Photography by Ellis Parrinder

How did you know when you were ready to take part in the Great British Bake Off?

I was in a really good place when I applied for the Bake Off. I was settled in Leeds with my partner Nabil, whereas before that I’d been moving house every year, just every time I changed job. I was moving jobs a lot because my aim was to get into clinical psychology, and I needed to keep climbing the ladder and getting lots of different experiences. I never really felt settled anywhere or had any reason to settle in one place. But when I met Nabil, he just encouraged me to do what made me happy, and he encouraged me to apply for the Bake Off, even though I thought there was no chance I’d actually get on. So I thought why not and applied, and somehow I got through first time! Plus I felt like, in terms of my baking experience, I had enough of a general knowledge to do it!

Do you have any top tips for baking beginners?

Do what you enjoy and then keep doing that until you get better at it. There will be mistakes all the time, but sometimes you can turn them into ingenious creations. Gradually you’ll build up your skills! What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to be on the show in the future? Just do it! Set aside a day and fill out that form properly. And if you don’t get in, lots of people get in second or third time round. If you haven’t done one area of baking (e.g. hot water crust pastry), then just do it at least once so you can say you’ve done it!


Photograph by Ellis Parrinder

What are you most proud of since becoming a GBBO finalist?

I’m proud that I’ve got a book out! And I’m writing a weekly baking column for the Guardian G2. I’m proud that I made it to the final, persevered and never gave up. I never thought I actually had the stamina and determination to do that! And the fact that people tell me that I make them happy just through being me. That’s a lovely feeling.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a lot of signings coming up for the book, plus there’s a few potential things I can’t mention! But I’m hoping to do more TV, and keep being creative and see what comes from it! I love board games and card games, so working on things with that. I’ve also written and drawn a short baking-themed comic for my friends who run a festival called Thought Bubble in Yorkshire, so that will be published among other peoples’ amazing comics! The profits all go to charity. I’m overall super excited about the future.

Thanks, Kim-Joy for chatting to us!

Read more from Kim-Joy here!

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