Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Short and Sweet - Dan Lepard

This blog turned 10 sometime back in August and one reason for carrying on with it is that the older I get the more useful I find it to refer back to. I’m baking Christmas cakes at the moment which makes me look back too - I made my first one in December 2011 using a cut out and kept for a year Dan Lepard recipe back from when he wrote a column in The Guardian. D had bought me a Kitchen Aid for my birthday, but it was so new, and the quantities of ingredients so generous that I hand mixed it that first time.

Since then I’ve made this cake dozens of times - as many as 7 in various sizes one Christmas - it’s a very good cake, although the year I got a new oven I managed to utterly over cook them after it turned out the old oven needed at least 3 times as long to cook something as the new one did. Making them isn’t the longest standing tradition but it’s important to me.

Dan Lepard has got further into my Christmas when I turned to ‘Short and Sweet’ (the blog tells me it was a Christmas present in 2011, and that initially I wasn’t as grateful for it as I am now) for a Christmas pudding recipe. His simple Christmas pudding based on a 1930’s recipe has been a winner with everyone who’s tried it.

As baking books go it’s a genuine classic - if I only had space for one baking book it’s probably the one I’d keep, but as an incorrigible collector of cookbooks there’s always something with a bit of novelty value to look at. It’s this time of year that I reach for ‘Short and Sweet’, and this time of year that I realise again how good it is.

It’s still in print, and if you don’t know it, it’s worth seeking out. Still thinking about Christmas I’ve just found a good looking mincemeat recipe that doesn’t need to be matured. I would contend that making your own mincemeat is one of life’s pleasures - something that makes you slow down and enjoy the process of what you’re doing. Which is what I think Christmas baking should be about, if you don’t enjoy doing it there’s no point, but if you do it’s surprisingly mindful (mindful is not a word I love, but it’s accurate enough here).

As I’m currently time rich I’m going to go beyond the Christmas staples and have some fun with this book over the next couple of months (starting with some orange and almond biscuits). I can’t remember exactly who gave me this (it would have been my mother or my sister) but they deserve another thank you.


  1. Thank you for such a great blog! I've been luring around reading your posts for years. My Dan Lepard is my go-to baking book. You inspired me to try out the Christmas pudding recipe which has been a staple of our Christmases for the last few years. I also regularly make the cherry and sherry cake which in one of my all time favourites.

  2. I too am a fan of Short and Sweet, even though the recipes don't always work for me. I have the US edition and many times things come out too dry. I suspect when they bring out a new edition of a cookbook for an overseas market, the publisher may just convert the units without actually retesting the recipes. Or perhaps Lepard lives in a particularly dank part of the UK?

  3. Think it's more likely that something has got lost in translation between measures in mils and cups. What a shame. I find different flours can make quite a difference too - some absorb much more liquid than others so ingredients don't always translate well either.