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Monday 16 January 2012

Book Review: Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet

If you've got foodie friends, you may have heard them singing the praises of Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet, which covers every aspect of baking from bread to pies to bagels to biscuits and cakes. You might have taken a look at your collection of a dozen cook books, pondered the vast repository of recipes on the internet, and decided against on yet another book with recipes you're too busy to bake. You're wrong to dismiss it, and here are ten reasons why.

1) The recipes actually bloody work. And they look like the photos. I've tried so many naan recipes that I didn't hold out much hope for the frying pan naans, but they turned out puffed-up and soft. Marbled chocolate crumble cake, a recipe I'd usually have dismissed as too complex and doomed to failure, turned out beautifully and took less than an hour. And I am a sloooow baker.

Marbled chocolate crumble cake

2) Dan explains why the recipes work in an interesting intro to each chapter, making it more likely you'll dive in and have a go.

3) He favours a no-knead bread method, meaning a decent loaf only takes about 20 minutes work (plus a lot of sitting around waiting for it to rise. He hasn't reduced that, he's not a miracle worker).

4) You won't be made to feel bad for using cheaper ingredients. By page 13 Dan's confessed to using cheap strong flour, and told you not to bother with extra virgin olive oil. You won't have to 'source' any obscure ingredients. In fact, chances are you'll have most of them at home. Got butter, eggs, flour, sugar and baking powder? You're well on your way to tackling most of these recipes.


Picture courtesy of badmissk
6) Dan will give you a hand over Twitter if you ask nicely - @dan_lepard. He helped my friend Kate with her rough-puff pastry (ooooh).

7) The book has double-fan adhesive binding. Why does that matter? Because it opens flat, meaning you can consult it as you cook. It's meant to be used, not just read.

8) "I truly believe that life is improved by cake" is a philosophy I can get behind. The chapter on cake covers the classics and throws in some more unusual ones like marmalade layer cake and ginger root cake, made with turnip. These are cakes that sit around looking pretty but taste of sickly sugar. These are hearty cakes that demand you sit down with a slice and a cup of tea. They'll keep for a week if you can exercise moderation around them.

9) He writes like an old friend getting excited about a new recipe. "Icing can add magic to a cake." "Like a puppy, a fruit cake is not just for Christmas."

10) There's more than breads, cakes, doughnuts and pastries. Turn to the supper section to make a spiced aubergine and lentil pie, chorizo and tomato tart, or hot crust sausage roll.

Whether you're a novice baker looking to tackle your first loaf, or a seasoned cook looking for new challenges, you will find recipes you'll want to try. Reboot the classics (pigs in duvets, made with brioche), try something innovative (flash loaf made in two hours) or test something that makes you raise your eyebrows (tripe and suet mincemeat).

Short and Sweet is only £12.50 on Amazon. Buy it now, choose express delivery,  report back to us with your favourite recipes.


  1. ALL OF THEM are my favourites. The only thing I found tricky was the toffee for the toffee apple buns, but they were still delicious.

  2. ooooh, I've been eyeing this up for ages! Might have found a book worthy of my Christmas book vouchers, yay!

  3. Toffee sounds hard to make! I've always been too scared of hot sugar to try making caramel/fudge/toffee etc.

  4. And Devon Claire - assuming you've already bought the Domestic Sluttery book (ahem), this one should be next on your list

  5. You are naughty. I really don't need anymore cookbooks but clearly I'm going to have to buy this now. Off to amazon I go.

  6. I made the cinnamon cake with blackberries for a birthday cake recently - went down very well, and not difficult at all! And the book just looks so lovely! I'm a fan.

  7. Sara - already proud owner of sluttery book! *beams* Loved it so much I bought a copy for my best friend for Christmas and she was thoroughly inspired by it!

  8. Mrsf - excellent! Let us know how you get on. As sesp points out, the cinnamon and blueberry cake is fantastic.

    Devon Claire, get to the front of the class! *awards you a gold star*


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