Kim-Joy shot to fame on the Great British Bake Off, where she charmed with her characterful bakes and eye for decoration. Her book Bake Me A Cat is a playful collection of cakes, cookies, desserts, breads and more - all with a feline theme! From Tiger buns to Meow bao and Kit-tea scones… there are more ways to bake a cat than you might imagine!
Bake Me A Cat by Kim-Joy (Quadrille, £16.99), Photography by Ellis Parrinder
What’s the one recipe to make anyone fall in love with your new book?
I’m so so proud of every recipe and think every person will have their own specific recipe that’ll make them fall in love with Bake Me a Cat. So my recipe photographer (Ellis Parrinder) is obsessed with the Ginger Snap Cats and their little grumpy faces. And they are a favourite of mine too because they’re so delicious and packed full of ginger, but also quick to make and satisfying to see how each one forms a crackled pattern on top. I just love that they have these grumpy faces, but are so cute all at the same time.
What ingredients are always stocked in your pantry?
We’ve renovated our house recently, and one of the most exciting things is that we now have a walk-in pantry! I never would’ve thought I’d ever have a walk-in pantry. It’s a total dream just being able to see all my ingredients. So I’ve always got food dyes, plain flour, baking powder, strong white flour, vegetable oil and vanilla bean paste (and many many other things).
How do you balance tradition and innovation in your cooking?
My favourite thing is thinking about my favourite traditional recipes and how I can make them cat themed. I always say that everything is better with a cat. So for instance, I love profiteroles and anything to do with cream and choux pastry. But pipe the cream into little cat shapes and it instantly goes from ‘delicious’ to ‘delicious AND cute’! And if I’m rushed with time, I’ll simply make a stack of ordinary profiteroles, and then make two or three on top cat themed.
What new tips, tricks or ideas have you learned while writing the book?
When I was making the ‘meowringue’ cats recipe on the actual book shoot, I realised that I could create a simpler and just as effective version for people who aren’t into piping, or are in a rush or have young kids who want to help.
I realised that instead of piping the meringue into neat cat shapes, I could show how you can make ‘scruffy’ cats by dolloping meringue onto baking paper, swirling through jam/chocolate/curd, sprinkling on freeze-dried fruit, and then just using fingers to pinch out the cat ear shapes and using edible eyes or food dye to create a little face.
What are the components of a fantastic meal for you?
Incredible flavours and proper seasoning (the salt balance is so crucial!). But also having the right ‘vibe’. Having a meal with good friends is the best experience for me. Nice chill vibes, nice chat, nice lighting (candles!) and nice ambiance. I love amazing presentation - not fancy expensive stuff, but just things that are well thought out. There’s something about a nice plate/bowl and a small spoon (or cake fork) that just makes a dessert a really lovely and mindful experience. And if it’s cat themed, well that’s even MORE AMEOWZING.
What will surprise people in your book?
There’s a huge variety of all sorts of delicious recipes, and each recipe has been given a number of ‘paws’ to indicate its general difficulty levels. There are loads of simple and quick recipes, as well as more showstopping bakes for celebrations!
Where do you find inspiration?
My cats (Inki and Mochi)have been very inspirational for Bake Me a Cat. And just cats in general because they are so wonderfully weird. I’m inspired by how cats squeeze themselves into tiny boxes; how they want to sit in plant pots; how they curl up and sleep; so many things. And all these personality traits and cat archetypes have been translated into baking form. That’s why there’s cats cosying up in fruit tarts, or kitten buns in flowerpots, and there’s even a Schrodinger’s cat box! Not to mention cat’s who’ve got the cream, and Ragamuffin cats (which obviously, had to be muffins!).
What recipes would you recommend we try first from the book?
There’s a section at the beginning on the key ways to create a cat in baked form, and once you master these techniques you can incorporate them into ANY bake! Definitely try the 3D cookie cats, as the dough takes 5 minutes to make, and is so soft and malleable - it feels almost like playdough.
Can you tell me about a particularly memorable meal you have had and what made it
Going for a big Chinese meal with my family for the Lunar New Year! It’s just so nice to have a massive meal together, and the fun of watching when everyone is getting really full towards the end, and everyone just telling everyone else to polish everything off! Mostly, I just love meals that have shared dishes in the centre, and you help yourself to whatever you want. That’s pretty much how me and my partner Nabil try to do every meal out. Having tastes of lots of different dishes is always better than having all of one dish. Unless that one dish is clearly the best of the lot!
What dish do you make most often?
At the moment, probably scones! Kit-tea scones!