By Prudence Wade
Christmas and Kim-Joy are a match made in heaven. The baker burst onto small screens as one of the finalists in the 2018 Great British Bake Off, winning a legion of fans for her adorable animal-inspired creations.
For Kim-Joy, writing a Christmas baking book was a no-brainer. “I love colour, cute things and all the Christmas flavours like cinnamon and cardamom and all those warming spices,” says the 29-year-old.
She admits Christmas might be “a bit weird and different this year” – and says that’s why “we need some good baking at home”.
The cookbook is everything we’ve come to love from Kim-Joy, full of sweet bakes made to look like cute animals and whimsical creatures. This includes snowmen meringues and reindeer Bakewell tarts, as well as recipes with more unusual flavours – like the matcha bamboo swiss roll decorated with festive pandas.
With such delicate and seemingly perfect decorations, some people might be put off trying to tackle Kim-Joy’s recipes themselves. However, the baker is all for giving things a go in the kitchen – regardless of the outcome. “I taught myself to bake and I definitely got to a decent level by messing up a ton,” she says. “And I still mess up – I just don’t talk about it as much!”
“Baking is one of those things that gives you a sense of purpose once you do it. It touches on all your senses, like feeling things, the smell of things and the taste of things, and it’s also an activity you can lose yourself in and forget about time. Not only that, but at the end you have a bake and you feel really productive. You can give it to somebody else and feel even more useful.”
250g salted butter
250g light brown muscovado sugar
¾tsp ground cinnamon
¼tsp ground nutmeg
⅛tsp ground white pepper
⅛tsp ground cloves
⅛tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of ground anise
¼tsp bicarbonate of soda
350g plain flour plus extra for dusting
You can also add the finely grated zest of 2 lemons or 2 oranges to flavour
For the sugar centre:
225g caster or granulated sugar
150g liquid glucose
Orange gel food dye
For the royal icing:
40g egg white
225g icing sugar
Plus extra egg white and icing sugar to adjust and get the right consistency
Black and orange gel
Sprinkles of your choice
For the cookie dough: line a baking sheet that you can fit in the fridge with baking paper and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment until the butter and sugar is soft, fluffy and paler in colour. Scrape the sides and base of the bowl occasionally.
Add all the spices, bicarbonate of soda and egg, then mix for a few more seconds until completely combined.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add all the flour. Use your hands to rub the butter and sugar mixture into the flour, then combine into a ball.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then use cutters to stamp out circles, about 7.5cm in diameter, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. On half the cookies, stamp out a smaller circle, about 4cm from the lower third area.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to colour. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
When the cookies are cool, make the sugar glass for the centre. Add the caster sugar, liquid glucose and water to a small saucepan and stir to combine. Add a drop of orange gel food dye to colour. Heat over a high heat, but don’t stir at all until the mixture reaches 150C. Remove the pan from the heat and use a large spoon to spoon the sugar syrup into the centre of the cookies. Immediately scatter over sprinkles. Leave the sugar syrup for 20 minutes, or until completely hardened, then peel off the baking paper.
Next, make the royal icing. Use a stand mixer (or handheld electric whisk) fitted with a balloon whisk attachment to combine the egg white and icing sugar until you get a smooth consistency. Then add tiny amounts of extra egg white and/or icing sugar to get the right consistency. Spoon one-third of the mixture into a piping bag, then divide the remaining icing between two bowls. Stir black food dye into one bowl and orange food dye into the other to colour.
Transfer each colour to a piping bag and cut a small opening on each. Use to pipe a robin design. The wings are an optional extra decoration.
Christmas With Kim-Joy: A Festive Collection Of Edible Cuteness by Kim-Joy is available now