Published on October 16 2012.
Australian-born and London-based, Dan is a baker, author, writer and photographer much loved for his innovative and earthy approach to the art of baking and his weekly column in The Guardian. His books, including Short and Sweet and The Handmade Loaf have been praised equally for their beautiful design and practicality.
Visit thanks to The Essential Ingredient
Q. Who did you learn to cook from?
A. The first inspiration was from my mother and her baking. Alastair Little was the biggest influence on my cooking as a chef.
Q. What grows in your backyard?
A. Gooseberries and redcurrants, sorrel, lots of herbs, and beans. London isn’t the ideal place to grow vegetables. We grow tomatoes sometimes but we use them mainly for pickling.
Q. Name the one ingredient you can’t live without and how you would cook it?
A. Potatoes – love them every way but baked simply in the oven, cut and spread with butter and sea salt is perfect. And I use them in bread baking.
Q. What’s your favourite dish on the menu right now?
A. A classic sourdough, with a very long 14 hour fermentation to give it a rich acidic tang. I love to eat it Catalan-style, grilled and spread with a puree of fresh ripe tomato, olive oil and salt.
Q. What do you do when you’re not in the kitchen cooking?
A. Write. I’m a library geek so often in old archives and bookshops. I keep quite fit now so a little boxing and cycling helps me relax.
Q. No 1 cooking tip for the amateur cook?
A. Make every bread recipe work for you by letting the dough rise by half not double before shaping, then by half not double before baking. You’ll get a fine loaf every time.
Q. What are you looking forward to experiencing in Melbourne?
A. The excellent bakeries and baking, some of the best in the world.