The Great British Bake Off’s Kimberley: “I didn’t take it too seriously”

Psychologist Kimberley says she wanted to have a good time in the tent, but is surprised by how venomous people can be on social media

Kimberley, 30, is passionate about baking and has wowed with her various collections of flavours. The finalist has been keen to ignore her nerves and have a good time, but admits the social media response has been quite shocking… 


Why do you think more women bake than men?

Cold hands, warm oven? I think there’s still a split. It’s cool for men to bake bread because it’s manly and you eat it with stew, whereas women make cupcakes and buns. Hopefully that’s changing because it’s ridiculous. You can’t genderise food.

Do you have cold hands, as the saying goes?

I have Raynaud’s syndrome [which affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body] so I often have cold hands.

How long have you been baking?

I wasn’t really taught. I took food technology GCSE at school and I’ve been cooking ever since. I’m more of a cook than a baker.

Why did you apply?

To see whether I was any good! A friend and I were thinking of setting up a market stall to sell cakes, but I didn’t really know if I was any good. You can sit in your kitchen and think, “Oh, that’s quite tasty,” but you don’t have any objective opinions.

You seem very confident…

I was nervous but I’m also trying to enjoy it. For me, the whole experience is supposed to be fun. I didn’t want to go in there dreading it and worrying about what would go wrong. I didn’t take it too seriously. I called it Bake Camp: I went in every week, baked cakes and had a good time with my friends – and then went home.

Most hair-raising bake?

My toadstool novelty cake in the quarter-finals because I know that I lag behind the others in design-led tasks. I’m not creative or artistic in any way. I went in thinking, “I just need to do a decent job that doesn’t look like a pile of crumbs covered in icing.” When I got good comments I was really proud of myself for managing to do something that felt completely outside my comfort zone.

Do you follow it on Twitter?

I am quite engaged on Twitter. It’s just really lovely when people are being supportive and saying nice things so you thank them and you appreciate that they are being kind. I do try to get back to everybody who says something to me on Twitter, just to say thank you.

How do you cope with the negative comments?

The most difficult part is that people are responding to a very brief representation of you rather than the whole you. They don’t know what kind of person you are or how you are at home. What they see is a brief snippet that has been put together in a way that is perhaps more dramatic than it probably was. Whether people like you or dislike you is really nothing to do with you but it becomes personal when people start directing their interpretations of you at you.
I have so far resisted the temptation to respond to the negative stuff because there just isn’t any point in arguing on Twitter. But it’s difficult when people feel as if they have the freedom to be nasty.

Did it shock you?

It did. The thing that is more shocking is how venomous people can be. It’s a show about baking!

What’s next?

I’d love to have a little shop that would be part of the community, with ten percent of our profits going to community interests and charities. We would close once a month and run birthday parties for children whose families couldn’t afford to host parties. I grew up very poor and never really had the great birthdays my friends did, so it’s an ambition close to my heart.

The Great British Bake Off final – Tuesday, 8:00pm, BBC2