Dan Lepard

Dan Lepard

Baker and food writer

https://www.danlepard.com
Dan Lepard is a London-based baker and food writer. His books, which combine easy-going style with an in-depth understanding of the science of baking, have established him as the alternative baking guru for a generation of young cooks and chefs. His first book, Baking With Passion (1999), was also the first book to champion an artisan bakery in Britain and went on to win the Guild of Food Writers’ Cook Book of the Year Award and was short-listed for the André Simon Food Book of the Year. His next book, The Handmade Loaf (2004) combined his writing with his skills as a photographer and gained a cult following as it encouraged long-process dough making at a time when bakeries were still speeding their production. He followed this with the baking chapter of The Cook's Book (2005) which won the James Beard Foundation Book Award in the USA and has sold over 400,000 copies. On the side he photographed Giorgio Locatelli's masterwork Made In Italy (2005), winner of the Glenfiddich and World Gourmand awards; wrote the British chapter in the Dictionnaire Universel Du Pain (Laffont Paris, 2010); photographed Hawksmoor At Home (2011); and co-authored and photographed Comptoir Libanais (2013) and Comptoir Libanais Express (2014). His latest book, Short & Sweet (4th Estate) has been a best-seller since its launch in 2011, and won the UK’s prestigious Andre Simon Award, Cook Book of the Year, 2011. He writes a monthly baking column for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food section, and for 8 years prior to that had a weekly baking column in The Guardian (UK) newspaper. Dan lives in London with his partner David.

Dan's favorite cookbooks

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

By Simone Beck, Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle

Arguably taught generations of cooks how to appreciate the detail and skills found in traditional French cooking, explained in outrageous detail with recipes that ran for many pages. It was the first recipe book I bought in 1991 when I started cooking, and it both fascinated and alarmed me about what preparation of good traditional French food involves. Still charming and inspiring cooks today.

The Joy of Cooking

The Joy of Cooking

By Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker

The Joy of Cooking (1896) is the kitchen bible for many home cooks in America, still a bestseller. I found a battered, coverless but complete 1943 edition at the Strand Bookshop NYC in 1993 and somehow still have it. When I wanted to know the traditional way to bake a chocolate brownie, make cornbread, it was the book I went to. Rombauer called it a “record of our American way of life”, back in 1943, and it’s remarkable that she recorded it so thoroughly.

Cuisine Gourmande

Cuisine Gourmande

By Michel Guérard

The excellent Americanisation — by Paris-based culinary historians Phillip and Mary Hyman — of famed chef Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Gourmande (1979) did two things to inspired cooks. Firstly it taught them, perhaps not so admirably, to polish their dinner plates and arrange small portions of food into patterns, so you can point the blame-finger here. But much more importantly, Guérard showed everyone – from chefs to home cooks – that grand food could light and delicate, that vegetables and broths could be considered remarkable and breathtaking. I see his influence everywhere, without him this fresh aspect in modern chef menus would not exist today

Available on ckbk now
Keep it Simple

Keep it Simple

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

During the mid-1980s in London the chef Alastair Little, the original university-graduate cook in England, changed the way restaurant menus looked. Before him in the UK, food was heavily cooked and sauced, year-round comfort food with barely a fresh vegetable in sight. He combined Italian cooking with Japanese techniques, introduced the concept of organic ingredients outside of health-food shops to chefs, and bravely broke away from the seasonal menu into a daily-changing one inspired by whatever he could find at nearby Berwick Street Market in London’s Soho. A decade late his book, Keep it Simple (1993) was published and quickly became a bestseller, a handbook for small restaurants, and the new-trend of gastro pubs in Britain.

Real Fast Food

Real Fast Food

By Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater developed a style of conversational food writing and friendly approach to recipes that spoke to the reader as if they were close friends with the author, a style somewhat unknown to UK readers in the 1980s, similar to MFK Fisher but more succinct and encouraging with simplicity. His first big success was with Real Fast Food (1993), where he identified the idea of the time-poor cook who wanted to spend fewer hours in the kitchen and instead cook simply. I’d argue that he even created the genre of “quick easy recipes”, but with utter good taste and sweetness.

New Food

New Food

By Jill Dupleix

Though I’m a huge fan of food writers and stylists with a pared-back simplicity in their approach, such as Donna Hay, the influence for their work – certainly in Australia – stems from the food writer Jill Dupliex who a decade earlier in the 1990s was reassuring cooks that a simple salad and roasted vegetables could be remarkable meal without any fuss. A feast, seen through Dupliex’s eyes, could be as simple as a fresh pear with a little goats cheese, or grilled fish with lemon and garden herbs. Her approach championed fresh ingredients and looked for ways to preserve that freshness from the market to the table. A single recipe would hop from country to country for inspiration: audacious then but commonplace today. Her book New Food (1996) summed up how dining was changing and reflected simple food ideas, at times almost a dadaist approach to eating, rather than fussy complex recipes.

Available on ckbk now
The Silver Palate Cookbook

The Silver Palate Cookbook

By Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

It’s hard to describe just how influential this small NYC food shop was in the 1980s and onward, founded by Sheila Lukins & Julee Rosso. The Silver Palate was a small gourmet deli that cooked food in the store and took inspiration from America, France and Italy in a way way that had rarely been combined before. Arguably it inspired, through a few generations, the modern bakery delis we see everywhere today. The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982) was a tightly packed collection of essential recipes from brunches, lunches and very easy supper meals, a huge success and the book to be found in casual dining kitchens from then on. It was about eating with friends and family with a charm and gusto, and still today is a extremely useful cookbook.

Nose to Tail Eating

Nose to Tail Eating

By Fergus Henderson

The bible of tattooed bearded geeky chefs the world over. Fergus Henderson, though self-described as a dutiful cook inspired by French bourgeois cooking, is known for rediscovering a kind of British cooking and returning vigour and boldness to modern kitchen menus. His restaurant St. John, a simple school dining hall configuration, coat-hooks and all, starkly painted white, became the meeting place for artists, writers and alternative cooks in London when it opened in 1994 and encouraged the eating of everything possible, from carrot tops to pigs tails. The book Nose to Tail Eating (1999), published five years after the restaurant opened, only added to it’s fame.

Bread Alone

Bread Alone

By Daniel Leader

Sourdough bread is commonplace today, but back in the 1980s not so much. So when the artisan baker Daniel Leader in upstate New York published his book Bread Alone (1993) it honestly changed things. Suddenly any baker who felt alarmed by the increasing softness and tastelessness of commercial bread had a hero, and Daniels book inspired so many bakers – like myself – to almost take a luddite approach in their baking, throw a spanner in the bread mixer and slow everything down. Suddenly the grain mattered, stone milling became essential, long fermentation and a slow cool rise were the buzz phrases for new breed of baker known as the “artisan”. This book, alongside Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery (1996), drove the artisan baker revolution.

The Bread Builders

The Bread Builders

By Daniel Wing

The Australian oven crafter Alan Scott was one of the few who believed back then that an large woodfired oven could be central to a community, built using volunteer help over a weekend, becoming a shared resource to cook in. So though his book, The Bread Builders (1999) written with Daniel Wing, appears on the surface to be about oven building and sourdough baking, but it was their premise that the sourdough leaven could be a metaphor for social change and the way we approach food and cooking that enchanted many bakers around the world. Across the US, like a Johnny Appleseed of oven crafters, Scott built ovens during the 1970s onward and in turn, reconnected small communities with central oven baking. Still inspiring sourdough bakers today.