If you want to dip your toe into the world of baking, you could do no better than to get hold of a copy of Dan Lepard’s book, Short & Sweet. But you don’t need to be a beginner to love this book. There’s heaps here for the mid to experienced baker too. Read my review to find out more.
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Following on from the whoopie pie experience in my last post, I’m delighted to announce that I have three copies of Short & Sweet to give away to my readers. Yes, that’s right, the publishers, Fourth Estate, have been very generous and are offering not one but three copies.
You’ll find details of the giveaway at the bottom of this post.
Short & Sweet
As already stated in my previous post, I’m very excited about this book. Dan Lepard’s renowned book The Handmade Loaf, together with his excellent baking forum and weekly baking column in the Guardian have established him as one of the best bakers in the UK. I ordered the book back in April and had to wait six long months before it finally arrived through my letterbox.
First off, this is a nice hefty book with over 550 pages and a distinctive tricolour cover. It’s bound in such a way that the page stays open at pretty much any point. Most unusual and very welcome. With over 280 recipes there’s plenty to keep pretty much anyone busy for a very long time.
There are ringing endorsements from the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. In fact Hugh sums it up very nicely by stating “Dan demystifies the baker’s art … all kinds of seductive treats become instantly achievable”.
In true Dan Lepard style, the recipes are inspirational. Yes, the basics are covered, but there’s an awful lot to pique one’s interest. Parsley pikelet fry-up anyone?
You can watch a 50 second video of Dan talking about his book here.
Book Sections & Chapters
I leapt straight to the section on cakes of course, but the book starts with the real stuff of life, bread. Other sections include biscuits, desserts, yeasted sweet bakes and there’s even one on how to make your own sweets.
Each section is itself divided into chapters. It’s like having several books all combined into one. The bread section, for example, covers: easy loaves, wholemeal loaves, rye loaves, soda breads, baps rolls and buns, flatbreads, sweet breads and sourdough.
Ever since my mother visited Sweden, she’s want to get hold of proper rye crispbreads. Well Dan has a recipe for extra-thin rye crispbreads, so I reckon I’d better put my baking apron on.
Despite the deceptive “sweet” in the title, I found plenty of savoury bakes. There is a whole section on supper which includes savoury pies, pizzas and scones. And I really want to get stuck in.
Baking Tips & Techniques
Each section starts with a few pages of extremely useful tips and techniques. And as if this wasn’t enough, I found various tips scattered throughout the book. When I read the tips and techniques chapter in the cake section, I noted several things I was unaware of.
I’m an inveterate forgetter of remembering to turn the oven on in time. I was particularly pleased therefore, to discover that it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t place the finished cake mixture immediately in the oven. If you transfer it very gently, the “rise” should not be affected.
Now, who would have thought that white chocolate made a good substitute for lard? Well that’s one of Dan’s tips and it’s one I’ve used to very good effect. Queue my Cornish splits.
Another top tip I’ve found really useful is to oil your hands and work surface when kneading bread. This gets around the age old problem of kneading on a floured board. Adding extra flour can make the dough dry and potentially tough.
Update October 2021
In fact, in the name of saving energy, more and more people are now baking from a cold oven. You may need to cook your bake for a few extra minutes in the oven, but bread and cakes in particular tend to work well.
What I Really Like
Dan has a particularly innovative approach to baking. I find this really appealing. He’s found his own way of doing things over the years and has introduced many new baking techniques. His method for kneading dough is quite different to anyone else’s, but it really works.
Some of the ingredients Dan uses in his cake recipes are quite unusual. They’re so up my street though. I love going off the beaten track. They include rye and hemp flours, ground porridge oats and condensed milk. That and some unusual techniques make for an intriguing baking experience.
The recipes really work. I’ve made a few now and they’ve all been delicious. Dan is an experienced home baker and he knows his stuff. There’s nothing more annoying than a bake fail.
As a librarian, I loved the detailed index. It makes the recipes really easy to find. Dan’s husband, David Whitehouse, not only edited the book, but created the index too. In my experience the indexing of many modern cookbooks leaves a lot to be desired.
What Could Be Better?
Although I like to think of myself as a serious cook, I do find I like to have photographs in my cookbooks. It’s always nice to have an idea of what your aiming for. And sometimes it’s the picture alone that seals the deal on whether you bake a particular recipe. This was my one disappointment with Short & Sweet. There are photographs and very enticing ones too, but they don’t cover every bake.
A book mark ribbon would also be a welcome addition, but I guess I can live without that.
Short & Sweet Details
Short & Sweet: the best of home baking*/ Dan Lepard. Published in hardback by Fourth Estate, 2011. RRP, £25. ISBN: 9780007391431.
As regular readers will know I always give my own views on any items I review. In this case I bought the book for myself so you can be doubly sure that I do indeed think it’s a classic and will make an excellent addition to any baking library. In fact it’s my favourite and most used baking book.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you have a copy of Short & Sweet, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Have you any top baking tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like to try some baking recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.
Short & Sweet. PIN IT.
Short & Sweet: Giveaway
So, to the giveaway and your chance to win one of the three copies. You must leave a comment on this post answering the question below. You have until midnight on Friday 21st October when the giveaway closes. The winners will be randomly selected after this date. Apologies to oversees visitors, but this is only open to those with a UK or Ireland postal address.
What cake recipe do you consider to be indispensable in a cookbook?
Additional entries can also be made by (but you must answer the question above for these to be eligible):
- Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect. Leave a separate comment here telling me you have done so.
- Follow me on Twitter. Leave a separate comment here telling me you have done so and include your Twitter handle.
- Tweet this message “win a copy of @dan_lepard Short & Sweet from Chocolate Log Blog @Choclette8 – bit.ly/pE6ARV”. Leave a separate comment here telling me you have done so
- Like this post on Facebook. Leave a separate comment here telling me you have done so.
Winners: 22 October Update
This giveaway is now closed. The three winners have been drawn using Random.Org as follows:
- 78 – Nursey
- 53 – Janice
- 37 – Dom
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