Anyone who saw Kimberley Wilson’s stunning bakes on her way to the final of the last series of the Great British Bake Off could not have guessed that she entered not knowing if she was really any good.
The 32-year-old, who lives south of the river in Wimbledon, said: “Before the show, a friend and I had been talking about setting up a very small baking business and a percentage of our profits would go to charity.
“For me, part of applying for the show was a kind of serious acid test.
“I didn’t want to have an X Factor experience where you think you can do something and you discover to your horror and dismay that you absolutely can’t.
“I really wanted to know whether I was capable of creating things that tasted good and that people would want to buy.”
The answer was unequivocally that she could. Kimberley impressed judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry at all turns and seemed to always have a smile on her face.
But underneath the laughs, psychologist Kimberley was working furiously.
She said: “It absolutely fills every moment. You have got the full 14 days at the weekends when you are filming and if you get through you spend the whole week practising for the next weekend, as well as doing your job.
“I was baking every spare minute until 3am and trying to go to work and it was really, really full-on and tiring.”
Being watched by cameras on set was understandably hard to adapt to as well.
“It’s really different from being in your kitchen with the radio on and chilling out,” Kimberley laughed.
Since finishing the show, Kimberley has continued at her day job but has had no shortage of other, baking-related, offers and she is mulling over many.
Her latest project is with Persil, which has created a new dual action laundry capsule which combines deep cleaning with stain removal.
To tie in, Kimberley has created a series of dual action jams with flavours which sound like they shouldn’t work but miraculously do; strawberry and black pepper, blackberry and vanilla, raspberry and basil, and orange and cardamom.
Kimberley said: “It works out really nicely because I have been developing a line of jams because I am going to start selling my own so it was a beautiful marriage.”
The unusual duo flavours were a welcome challenge for the baker, too.
She said: “That’s kind of my style. I quite like experimenting and trying new things and things that people wouldn’t necessarily put together.
“It’s about having a bit of an adventure with flavour.
“I’m not saying I haven’t had some horrible mistakes but with these ones, the flavours are fairly well established.
“Strawberry and black pepper is something that has been around for a couple of years and the others, like blackberry and vanilla, you knew they would be happy together – the sharp and the creamy.
“Raspberry and basil was a little bit more unusual but that was one of the flavour combinations I used in the Bake Off and it worked quite well, so I had a little bit of confidence in that already.”
Go to persil.co.uk for more recipes.
RECIPE: Kimberley Wilson’s Blackberry and Vanilla jam
Makes 1x 17oz or 0.5lt jar
You will need:
300g tart blackberries
300g granulated sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1 vanilla pod
1 Chop any large fruits in half and place in a pan with the sugar.
2 Over a low heat stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.
3 Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat and boil until the temperature reads 106C.
4 Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before stirring in the vanilla paste. Cut the vanilla pod to about 1cm shorter than the height of the jar.
5 Ladle the jam into the jar. Press the vanilla pod into the centre of the jam, seal and cool before storing in a cool dry place. Leave to sit for a month before use.