Jam-filled love letters piped with tiny black hearts; honey bee cookies with delicate slivered almond wings; a “Cat Paradise Cake” crowned with a sugar paste rainbow. Kim-Joy Hewlett became a fan-favorite on The Great British Bake-Off last year for her intricate, adorable baked goods, so it should come as no surprise that her debut cookbook, Baking with Kim-Joy: Cute and Creative Bakes to Make You Smile, is full of accordingly lovable recipes. Hewlett told me in a recent conversation that she believes taste starts with how things look, and decorated food can also create social moments—a talking point at a party, or a way to bring the family together for an afternoon of icing and frosting. However, if you’re new to baking, the idea of tackling detailed designs can be daunting.
Luckily, Hewlett shared some staple tools that bakers need for getting started, whether you’re looking to try out bread or make an ombré cake for your friends’ birthday. Piping bags and tips for decorating, Dutch ovens for rustic breads, and high-quality food dye are all on the list—she even included some unexpected baking tools as well, like shower caps. (We’ll get to that in a minute.) We can’t promise that you’ll make a perfect rendition of her Snowy Christmas cake (shown below) on the first try. But at the very least, you’ll have what you need to get started. Read on for her recommendations.
A turntable (or rotating cake stand) is incredibly helpful for decorating, allowing you to rotate a cake as you smooth the frosting and pipe the edges. (Yes, this is how ombré cakes are made.) Hewlett says it’s something you don’t have to splurge on—“I’ve had a really cheap one for ages, like 10 pounds [approx. $12]. That does the job.”
For beautiful icing designs, she says you’ll want piping bags and decorating tips—you’ll only need a few of the latter to create different shapes. “I wouldn’t start with too many because I’ve got loads and I don’t know what half of them do,” she jokes.
Wilton Borders Tips (Set of 4), $6 at surlatable.com Wilton Disposable 16" Decorating Bag (12-count), $7 at surlatable.com
“The supermarket food dye is really not very good,” she said. “And people end up with muted colors that don’t look great. There’s just certain things you’ve got to buy quality, and that’s food dye.”
Also known as an icing spatula, this tool is useful for applying and spreading buttercream icing, according to Hewlett.
Toothpicks are helpful for little things like fine details in icing, she says, and can also be used to check if a baked good (e.g. cake or brownies) is fully cooked.
Spatulas are a given when you’re baking, and Hewlett says she’d be lost without them. Use them to scrape down the sides of your food processor, help transfer batter from a mixing bowl to a baking tin, and more.
Whether you’re making biscuits, cookies, or pastries, Hewlett says cutters are good to have on hand. This Paderno set gives you the option to pick square or round shapes, with fluted or plain edges, too.
“I use that for bread and cakes,” Hewlett told me. “You can use [a dough scraper] to get any wet dough off the table, but you can also use it to smooth the edge of cakes. A little one. It’s got two purposes, which is really useful.”
Hewlett recommends getting a Dutch oven for breads, which she uses for the no-knead overnight caraway bread recipe found in her book. They trap the steam and get the bread to rise in a similar way to a professional bread oven—the end result is perfectly springy.
“You can get a nice, rustic bread, and it feels like you really, really achieved something,” she says.
In order to handle the Dutch oven, which you have to heat “to the maximum temperature,” she recommends owning a pair of good oven mitts. The Williams-Sonoma pair linked below has heat resistance up to 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Banneton (aka a Brotform) is a basket specially made to cradle dough, shaping it and helping it rise before you bake it.
Before you scratch your head, hear her out—shower caps are stretchy, and fit perfectly over a Banneton while the bread is rising. “I know a lot of bakers who collect them from different hotel rooms,” Hewlett told me. She’s used one for this purpose before, but also has a fabric cover specifically made for Bannetons.
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Jim: Just makes you wonder what blackmail Trump has on Graham. Pretty funny that the man admitted that he won't bother holding his oath to the Constitution to be an impartial juror for the senate trial. Since that went over about as well as a rock, he now has to change his tune to anything that he can to prevent having to uphold his oath. Everyone already knew that Trump's foreign policy is incoherent on pretty much all fronts. But the testimonies are clearly indicating that YES there was quid pro quo.
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