Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dan Lepard, What Are You Reading?

Dan Lepard is known for how well he knows bread and his artisanal approach to baking. I’ve baked from and mentioned the books Exceptional Breads and Exceptional Cakes which he co-wrote, and his other books include Baking with Passion and The Handmade Loaf. Most recently, Dan has written the British chapter in the French language Dictionnaire Universel du Pain to be published by Laffont Paris in October 2010. He also has two new books that will be published next year including a collection of recipes from his Guardian newspaper column, and the long-awaited book on traditional British baking. And, you'll find great information about baking and recipes on his site. He’s an incredible baker, writer, and photographer, and I knew he’d have an interesting answer when I asked him what are you reading?

Most of my time out of the kitchen is spent studying old baking methods in cookbooks and manuscripts, even though my regular work is about trying to write recipes that have a modern, inventive edge to them. Dipping into the past is a reminder of all the ideas that have been stirred into our baking soup over the centuries. Yep, for all the tweeting, blogging, and general web stuff I do, I’m still sat reading old books.

I’m always on the hunt for things to eat with bread, so I’ve been working my way through a series from the 1960s called The Compleat Imbiber, filled with essays on food and drink, edited by Cyril Ray. The design and typography has a good boldness to it, and just looking at volume five on my desk here, there are essays by Elizabeth David on first eating pork cooked with prunes at the Rôtisserie Tourangelle, in Tours, France, and how she came to write her own recipe for it. Another by Isak Dinesen on wine drinking by soldiers in biblical Palestine. It’s all stirring and fascinating.

The other book here is a reprint by Persephone Books, in Bloomsbury, London of Florence White’s Good Things in England, first published in 1932. It’s a collection of recipes and thoughts on cooking and local traditions around England, most of them lost and forgotten. It’s a book I reread often, and this summer it’s on my desk again. Simple recipes for a North Yorkshire fruit bread rich with allspice, pork lard, and raisins, another for a raised red gooseberry pie from Sussex.

Thank you for participating, Dan. Check back to see who answers the question next time and what other books are recommended.

Previous WAYR posts:
Jaden Hair
Michael Ruhlman
Monica Bhide
Michael Natkin
Sara Roahen
Andrea Nguyen
David Lebovitz
Rick Bayless
Tara Austen Weaver
Mollie Katzen
Deborah Madison
Soup Peddler
Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan
Robb Walsh
Kim Severson
David Leite


  1. That book about old English food particularly interests me!



  2. Thanks so much for this introduction to Dan Lepard. Because I am not much of a baker (but would really like to learn more), I am not familiar with his work. His book choices are fascinating, particularly Good Things in England. The newest publication get the most attention but it's gems like this where we find 'new' old treasures and reconnect with traditions in danger of disappearing.

  3. Wow, a book published in 1932 that still delights and educates. Now, that's a classic if there ever was one.

  4. Intrigued by that " Good Things in England" :)

  5. I am so intrigued about the Good Things in England book, I will definitely be on the look out for that one. Sounds like a super interesting read.

  6. Lisa, I was hoping you would get Dan on your site talking about his reading material!

    He is by far my favorite bread author - (I almost wrote "breadie"... :-)

    Loved to see him "featured"


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