Book review: Sweet & Simple by Christine Lane

Sweet and Simple cover on eatlivetravelwrite.comOne of the questions I get asked A LOT about blogging is “What do you DO with all that food?” Because, I mean, there’s a LOT of baking and cooking that goes on around here. Ok, maybe a little bit less cooking as I head into the final 5 (!) weeks before the first draft of my cookbook manuscript is due (I’ll be letting you in on a few of my “survival secrets” – aka How We Don’t Just End Up Eating Baked Goods All The Time – once that has been submitted – I’ve got a few secret weapons!) but there’s definitely baking. Every Day.

Fortunately, I have a lot of neighbours who are willing taste testers for my baking and, of course, there’s a whole staffroom of colleagues who are happy to help out too. Thankfully because otherwise we’d have a problem here!  Writing a cookbook is a little different from most of my “blog cooking” too because it’s meant I HAVE to make full batches of everything to make sure the recipes work. But when I’m “just” cooking for the blog, I can often be found, calculator and digital scale in hand doing what I love to do – minifying recipes so it makes just 2 serves of something. Because let’s be realistic. If I made something that serves 8 and there’s just 2 of us in the house, well… you do the math…. 😉 Minifying is one of the things I’ve become known for in the Tuesdays with Dorie and French Fridays circles – I mean, that’s a lot of food you’re making on a weekly basis so you gotta do what you gotta do….

Lots of people, though, DON’T want to do the math and minify – it’s too much trouble or they just want a recipe with the right amount of ingredients for the serves they want to make available without a mathematical component. And here’s where Christina Lane comes into the picture.

Baking for two? Christina’s your girl!  The genius mind behind the hugely popular blog Dessert for Two, Lane is the queen of minifying desserts and baked goods for one, two or just a few sweet lovers! Lane’s THIRD cookbook – Sweet & Simple – just hit bookstores last week and I took a little writing/ baking break of my own to check it out over the weekend!

The Sweet & Simple recipes are organised by type of baking pan and it will give you a new appreciation for pans which you most likely already have in your cupboards. Even if you only have a small kitchen with minimal cupboard space, you’ll likely be familiar with a Mini Baking Sheet, a Classic Loaf Pan, a Muffin Pan, Ramekins and Small Jars, an 8-inch Square Pan and 6-inch Round Cake Pans – right? If so, you’re good to go! There’s a handy ingredient guide at the start of the book followed by a comprehensive guide to the bakeware you’ll need for the recipes (and explanations about things like whether to choose light baking pans over dark and why, useful stuff like that!)

Sweet and Simple mini lattice pies on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe book is full of tempting recipes – batched DOWN versions of your favourite baked goods – and since each only makes servings for two, maybe four, go ahead and get baking! The cookie recipes, for example, only make between 6 and 10. A loaf pan brownie recipe will yield enough for two large brownies (because let’s be realistic, you can never just eat one brownie). Ramekins (also one of MY favourite things to bake in) make individual serves of things like cobblers, panna cotta, crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e, cheesecake pots, puddings and even little brownies. I love that there are recipes for from-scratch pastries but options to use store-bought as well (since if we’re keeping it simple, time can sometimes be a factor to consider as well). This is the book I wish I had had when I lived in Paris with only a tiny kitchen and (for a long time), mostly only me to feed!

Close up Sweet and Simple mini lattice pies on eatlivetravelwrite.comChristina’s gorgeous photos make you want to stick a Post-it in each page, marking it as “one to make”. I love the simple images she shoots – not overly propped or styled so the FOOD really shines. Indeed, I challenge you to flip through the book hungry and NOT want to immediately get in the kitchen and bake!

Oh and these?

Christina Lane Sweet and Simple mini lattice pies on eatlivetravelwrite.comSince I always have pastry lying around these days, I looked through the recipes to see what I might bake up with some pie dough I had in the fridge last weekend. I settled on these tiny lattice pies which are made with raspberries in the book but which I made with blackberries and blueberries as that’s what I had on hand. Made in muffin tins (brilliant!) they are tiny versions of the larger pie you might be tempted to have two pieces of. This, right here, is portion control at its best!

Icing sugar dusted Sweet and Simple mini lattice pies on eatlivetravelwrite.comAs you can see, my lattice needs a little bit of help but oh these were delicious. Two of them delivered to friends next door who were out on their front porch enjoying the unseasonably warm day on Monday and two enjoyed by me as an afternoon snack to keep me going well into the evening with my writing… And while they may look fussy, I love that they are, in a way. I like that even though you’re baking for only two, the desserts are not simplistic or boring. It’s nice to have a fancy dessert, even if it’s just you. It makes dessert (or anytime) feel special, right? Once I’m done with this first draft, I can’t wait to get baking even more treats for two!

Ready to bake?

(Psst: Canadians – win a signed copy of Sweet & Simple! Details here).

Sweet and Simple cover on eatlivetravelwrite.com



Buy Sweet & Simple for yourself on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store in your country) or for free worldwide shipping, buy from the Book Depository

Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!


Disclosure: I purchased Sweet & Simple myself (having been a longtime fan of Christina’s work).  I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing do. All opinions 100% my own. Christina has generously offered a copy of the book for a Canadian giveaway!

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2 Responses to Book review: Sweet & Simple by Christine Lane

  1. Nicoletta @sugarlovespices February 24, 2017 at 14:23 #

    Those mini pies are so cute and look delicious! I bake every other day, I love it, and usually I bake enough for us, the neighbours, few friends and my husband’s coworkers 🙂 . Having this book would really help 😉 . I am so excited for you and your new cookbook!

    • Mardi Michels February 25, 2017 at 20:20 #

      Yes my neighbours and co-workers love me too!

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