on 30 September 2011
I first heard about Dan's recipes from my sister. You must follow his recipes in the Guardian she said - they always work and they turn out exactly as they do in the picture. She was right and I've cooked so many of Dan's recipes and they always work every time. (In fact I have a sourdough loaf baking in the oven as I write this review!) I've make the Lemon curd today and The dark aniseed cake is amazing ( page 162)
It's got straight to the top of my book shelf as the ultimate baking bible and in one word it's a classic - it's been designed beautifully and practically. The typeface means you don't have to squint to read it as you bake and the pages lie flat as you open to book to top marks to usability.
The photographs are stunning an focus on the food without any overstyling and the recipes are sandwiched between the chapter foreword giving you the sort of advice you could only get from a baker who wants you to succeed.
The editing has kept Dan's clear voice and straightforward instructions so I feel as though I have a friend in the kitchen with me anticipating every aspect and holding my hand at each step.
So what else am I going to make? Well there's something for every occasion you could imagine. Savoury suppers, beef pies for the football match, breads, tarts, muffins, cheesecakes, and dreamy cakes as well as a whole chapter on sweets which my children will just love! There are lots of gift idea's which is just what I need and the biscuits and cookies such as Toll house Yo-yo's look utterly divine .. oh and the marmalade layer cake with the bittersweet orange and vanilla cream looks like a slice of heaven .. . I could go on .. but really if I had one thing to say it's buy this book .. you'll never need another baking book again .. seriously this has got to the best baking book I've seen .. ever.
on 4 January 2012
I bought this for myself as a christmas pressie after my hubby saw a review of it. This has to be the best baking book I have ever read! Normally when I read through a recipe book after buying it (especially off the internet), I only find a handful of recipes that I would actually want to make. This book is totally different, there are only 2 recipes in the entire book that I'm not desperate to try (and that's because they contain coffee and I can't stand the stuff!). It's nicely written, it's easy to follow, even with a toddler hanging round my legs and trying to 'help', I still made a totally new kind of cake without any stress or head scratching! It's mostly cakes and biscuits but there is savoury baking as well, so covers all eventualities. My friend who is an avid baker and blogger swears by his bread. I can't recommend this book highly enough (this is the first review I have ever left I like the book that much!!)
on 9 October 2011
Dan Lepard's much anticipated baking book is (almost) every bit as good as fans of his Guardian column want it to be. I can think of no baking book that I am likely to use more frequently. The book is an intelligent extension of his column and, unlike most of his previous books, is aimed squarely at the home baker.
The book is divided into 8 sections: bread (including sourdough and a sensational lentil-stffed flatbread); cakes (try the apple walnut and custard cake as soon as you buy the book); small things (aka modish muffins, cupcakes and whoopee pies); biscuits and cookies (already worked my way through a batch of the spelt and ginger cookies); doughnuts, batters and babas; sugar sugar (sweets, frosting, ice cream etc); desserts (cherry and polenta pudding, anyone?); and supper (pizzas to pasties).
If I'm absolutely honest, I would have preferred more space devoted to real cakes and rather less to such of-the-moment items as whoopee pies and cupcakes - but given the quality of the ideas here, he might convert me. The recipes are faultless, clearly described and deliver the results you hope for. What's best about the book, however, is that Lepard doesn't presume that the reader is stupid. He treats us to some basic science, explains potential pitfalls and points out subtle, but important differences between ingredients - his advice on the relative merits of British and European butters in pastry making is both fascinating and invaluable. In fact, Lepard is probably best when he's explaining pastry-making. He's given me the confidence to finally going to give rough puff a go.
I have 2 caveats. Firstly, I would have love to have seen some more of Lepard's greatest hits from the Guardian included (neither of my favourite of his cake recipes make it into the book). But my real gripe is the cover - and the paper used throughout. The cover was clearly designed my someone who doesn't use a cookery book in the kitchen. It scuffs as soon as you look at it and seems to attract dirt, water and oil like a magnet. It will soon become a very unappealing-looking object. Similarly, the paper used inside is the wrong side of cheap.
on 3 December 2012
Like all keen bakers I have quite a collection of baking books. This is amongst the best and certainly the most used. I the recipes are easy to follow and have that slightly novel twist that one associates with the author. I am particularly addicted to the Marrakesh date loaf. Absolutely yummy. Dan's breadmaking techniques, produce consistently good results, although his book The Hanmade Loaf amplifies this more thoroughly, if you are looking for an interesting all round baking book this is definitely one to add to your collection. Other reviewers have commented on the quality of production. Personally I wouldn't say that detracts from the quality of the contents. We seem to have come to expect big glossy editions with lots of superfluous photographs. It's nice to have a photo of something that may be slightly unusual but, in my opinion, unnecessary to have full page glossies of every recipe. I don't find the binding or paper quality a problem. Most of my cookery books are a bit stained and annotated anyway so it's not an issue for me.
on 22 June 2012
I was dithering about getting this book for a while because of its expense (I'm a student and everything seems a massive expense to me!) I wish I had not worried and just got it because it's one of the best baking books out there. It will have a lifetime of use! I love the fact that there are things which are quite 'classic' but Dan has his own twist on them to make them so much better. For instance the marble cake which is in a lot of the books I already own, but which he adds a chocolate crumble on top! So no matter how many baking books you have this will always offer something different! I have used it as reference to check if Dan has a better method than the one in the book I am currently using ( for instance lemon curd and meringue) and he often does. I know what people mean about the cover but I like that it feels like a fiction book and find it quite refreshing from the highly stylised books on the market currently .
What can I say - I have now made numerous recipes from this book in the 2 or so months I have had it. I love it! Things I've made include:
* bagels (so delicious and something I never thought one could make at home, yet they were actually very easy and rather fun to make!)
* scones (came out perfectly)
* soya & linseed loaf (this is now my go-to loaf. As someone who used to be obsessed with sourdough, I now prefer making this. It uses normal fast-acting yeast but has a to-die-for taste and also keeps really well. Very quick and easy to make)
* steak, swede & mustard pasties (again, easier than I expected them to be. I'd never bought dripping before until I made these!)
* spelt & ginger cookies (fabulous! Though funnily enough, the first time I made them they were amazing, the second time they were a bit too dense. I think I mis- read the recipe the second time round)
* sweet potato crescents (I think these were the first things I made from the book. Delicious, kept well too, I thought they might go soft but they didn't)
* big match beef pies (first time I had ever bought lard, used in the everyday shortcrust pastry. The pies were very tasty, really old-school in the best way).
I can't fault this book. Small things the author does that I likes include specifying temps for both fan and non-fan oven. Appreciate that's not rocket science but it's really helped as I do find some cookbooks only give you one temp and it can make a big difference as my fan oven runs quite hot. Dan also includes a lot of practical advice throughout the book (which is huge).
This really does feel like one of those books that you will use and come back to over and over again. Very highly recommended.
on 13 August 2012
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.
In true Dan Lepard style, the recipes are inspirational. I leapt straight to the chapter on cakes of course, but the book starts with the real staff of life - bread. Other sections include biscuits, desserts, savoury pies, yeasted sweet bakes and even a chapter on making your own sweets. Each chapter starts with a few pages of techniques; tips are scattered throughout the book. On reading the tips and techniques section of the cake chapter, 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.
Dan uses some unusual ingredients in his cake recipes including rye and hemp flours, ground porridge oats and condensed milk. That and some unusual techniques make for an intriguing baking experience. Apart from the chocolate ones (of course), some of the cakes I'm looking forward to making include: cherry beet cake, sticky lemon & poppy seed cake, coconut milk layer cake and saffron peach cake.
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.
on 5 December 2012
I'm extremely impressed with this book. Other reviewers have already elaborated on the different types of baked goods covered in this book, so I needn't go into that. But I felt the need to review it after just completing my first recipe from it, for Vanilla Sweet Shortcrust Pastry. I used it for mince pies, for which I had already made my own mincemeat. Though I'm an experienced home cook and reasonably experienced baker, pastry is something I've never felt entirely comfortable with, as I'm sure many people can relate to. However, his recipes give just the right amount of instruction, and the pastry came out better than any I'd made before. This is despite the fact that I completely doubted my ability to make pastry by hand (I'd always used a food processor before), but it proved easy and It will certainly be the only recipe I bother with for shortcrust in the future!
Lepard introduces each section in his book with general instructions for the type of baked good, and then goes into the specific recipes. The tone of his writing is so accessible and friendly that nothing is intimidating. I'm going to try my hand at some of the choux pastry creations next.
on 8 December 2011
Short and Sweet is one of those recipe books you will have forever, and will wonder how you ever baked without it, I for one wish I'd had this book years ago, if I had I would have been a much better baker than I am now. Short and Sweet is packed full of recipes, its not packed with photographs but this is not to the detriment of what his book is offering. Its not so much a recipe book or a recipe book giving baking instructions or advice on 'how to get the best of', its more like a baking recipe reference book, its been called a 'baking bible' and I could not describe it better.
There are more than 280 recipes in this book and its one that any home baker/cake maker/pastry cook/bread lover will turn to time and time again, both for new and inspirational recipes, for traditional favourites and for advice on such things as how to get the best cake crumb, loaf or rise. The chapters cover everything from bread, cakes, small things, biscuits and cookies, doughnuts, batters and baba's, sugar, sugar (sweets), desserts and supper.
I have given this book quite a road test and so far I have made...
Ginger root cake with turnip (pictured above)
Cinnamon cake with blackberries
Dark chocolate chunk cookies (pictured above)
Basic white loaf
Shortcrust pastry (pictured above)
All of these were a triumph, these are the most recipes I have made from any one book this year.
The bread was so good, a lovely open texture, a nice crust...that two of us scoffed the whole loaf the same evening I made it...was "too nice to spoil with jam" according to chief taster. I think it was the best loaf I ever made,
The Ginger root cake (yes it had turnip in it) was the springiest cake ever, and had a remarkable keeping time, it seemed to get better and better each day it lasted. The chocolate cookies were easy to make and a delight. The shortcrust pastry rose like puff pastry and melted in the mouth (just ask my brother and sister in law).
If you know someone that loves to bake then do consider buying this book for them for Christmas, they will repay you back a thousand fold with some lovely baking (out of sheer gratitude) AND...they will love you for giving them a baking bible they will treasure forever (trust me!). This book would suit a cook new to baking and a more experienced baker alike, its THE baking book to own and I know a lot of people who are already wishing for this for Christmas.
on 20 January 2012
I believe this is the first book I pre-ordered, as soon as I read it was coming out, in to my Amazon basket it went - before I even knew, exactly, what the premise of the book was. The reason for this is that pretty much every time I've used one of Dan Lepard's recipes before, it's been (a) a bit different and (b) a bit, or a good deal, better than every other version I've come across.
It turned out to be a wise decision. Short & Sweet is entertaining, full of personality, friendly, but most importantly in a cookbook, practical. Each section talks you through techniques, from basics like bread and pastry, to fancies like doughnuts and desserts, but also offers some neat little tips that I haven't seen anywhere else (which you should buy the book to find out). I've tried a handful of the recipes and they've all worked, the peanut butter biscuits being particularly memorable. I'm looking forward to trying the fancier recipes because I have no doubt that they will work; Dan Lepard's book is going to join my Marguerite Patten baking book as a reliable source. Unfortunately this means the beautifully designed book is going to get a bit messy and dog-eared, but I think that's a compliment to a cookbook - the last thing I think a good food writer wants is to produce a coffee-table tome and there is no danger of that here!