Publisher: Robert Rose (2011)
Fewer than five years ago, a diagnosis of Celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder requiring a lifelong abstention from gluten) meant suffering through endless meals of rice, corn or potato side dishes and eschewing baked goods altogether. Bread, cookies and muffins did exist, but they were either hard as rocks, turned to sawdust upon handling or were worse than old kitchen sponges in both taste and texture. Thankfully, for those of us forced to live gluten free (or who love those who are), things have drastically improved in the baking world – hundreds of flours, mixes, starches, gums and recipes have become more or less commonplace in the market (especially on the internet). The science of those ingredients and how they work together has also grown by leaps and bounds, leading to a wealth of cookbooks. One of the books that caters exclusively to the bakers amongst us is The Gluten-Free Baking Book: 250 Small-Batch Recipes for Everything from Brownies to Cheesecake by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, and it strives to let the gluten-avoidant enjoy the craft again.
|Chocolate Chip Muffins (p. 161)
The recipes in this book are easy to understand, and contain nutritional information. They call for ingredients that people familiar with a gluten-free diet will recognize and likely stock in their pantries, and if not are available at many grocery and health food stores. The recipe pages are comprised of 250 bakes ranging from No-Knead Yeast Breads (p. 33) to Cakes & Cupcakes (p. 193) and even the conventionally challenging Pastry & Tarts (p. 233). A medley of recipes perfect for special occasions (yet don’t necessarily fit anywhere else) find a perfect home in Gluten Free Baking’s Holiday Baking section (p. 279) – readers will find items such as the decadent Individual Pavlovas (p. 286), which are a treat for the whole family and fun for kids to help make too. On the savoury side, bite-sized Broccoli Cheddar Mini Quiches (p. 295) are perfect for brunch buffets or as passed canapes at a cocktail party, and again will appeal to all ages as well as both gluten free and non.
|Orange Millet Muffins (p. 156)
To satisfy your brain’s hunger, the authors included an in-depth, 20 page primer on the various ingredients, equipment and other jargon used in Gluten Free Baking. This is a must-read for complete gluten-free newbies, but is worth a scan even for the seasoned pro. A well-done index makes finding almost any baked good in the book a breeze as well, and most of the recipes have their own tips in the sidebar. Photos are encapsulated in two “blocks” within the book – a fairly common Robert Rose practice), and reflect the actual foods readers can make, rather than appearing as stock photos.
Overall, Donna Washburn and Heather Butt accomplished the goal of making The Gluten-Free Baking Book: 250 Small-Batch Recipes for Everything from Brownies to Cheesecake an accessible, approachable, and inspiring resource for every baker. Gluten free or not, preferring savoury or sweet, cookie-holic or cake star, you’ll be able to find a wealth of temptations between the covers.