March 23, 2010 by Flora Dawn
In my quest for gluten free recipes I have been pretty disappointed. I love cookbooks, so going gluten free was a great excuse to buy a bunch of new cookbooks. Let’s just say I have been underwhelmed with the results.
The first gluten free cookbook I have actually been pleased with is Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. Wow! This cookbook is fabulous. I have the revised and expanded second edition, which has over forty new recipes.
Things I love about this cookbook:
- These gluten free baked goods taste wonderful; no weird textures and flavors here
- The recipe instructions are clear.
- Roberts provides a lot of information about gluten free baking, in fact each chapter begins with a page or two explaining the baking methods, pan sizes, oven temperatures etc that are needed in that section. I find her tips very helpful.
- Roberts give a nice paragraph introducing each recipe. Personally, I like this touch. I think it gives a little story or background on that particular recipe.
- Each recipe also clearly states how to store the food and if freezing is an option-gotta love that!
- The flour blends she uses are pretty healthy compared to the ones I have been using. They contain things like sorghum, millet, and brown rice, which I haven’t had a lot of luck baking with before.
- She includes three, YES THREE, doughnut recipes. I haven’t tried them yet, but if her other recipes are any indication, these are going to be good.
I have baked a lot of the recipes in the cookbook. Here are some of my thoughts.
- Hamburger and Hotdog Buns -I didn’t use the fancy pans she suggest, I just made the hamburger buns in individual tart pans I already had (you could also use large ramekins).
- Buttermilk Pancakes and Waffles-Very thin, but cooked and tasted like regular pancakes. This recipe calls for buttermilk powder + water; I also made them with regular 1% milk with no problem. Make sure and double the recipe if making waffles, or you’ll only end up with enough waffles for one person.
- Rustic Flat Bread “Focaccia” -Although not crusty like focaccia, this bread was very easy and very good.
- Pizza– The best pizza crust recipe I have made from scratch; reminds me of Whole Foods 365 mix.
- Brownies– This makes a very good brownie that everyone will love.
- Chocolate Chip Cookies– These are very good, but also very thin and small. We think these taste best warm from the oven. The dough freezes really well, which I love.
- Yellow Layer Cake– This recipe is worth the price of the cookbook in my opinion. It is moist and high like traditional cakes. Truly the perfect birthday cake. We topped it with chocolate ganache, but any buttercream or chocolate frosting would be great. Seriously, no one will ever guess that it is gluten free.
Ok, so there are a few things I didn’t really love about this cookbook.
- Other than the cover, this book contains no color photos. There are a few black and white ones, but nothing special. With all the beautifully photographed cookbooks on the market, this was was a disappointment visually.
- There are notes to the reader all over the margins of the cookbook. I find this distracting and somewhat annoying. Although these tips were extremely helpful, I felt like the editor or author must have ADD.
- The introduction to each chapter lists the recipes, but doesn’t give page numbers. Why?
- Banana Muffins. These got mixed reviews, half my family liked them, half didn’t. But honestly, these were the most disappointing recipe, and not even “throw in the garbage” bad.
- I am not sure this is so much a miss, but more a warning, she uses three flour mixes in this cookbook, one requiring a special flour. Her brown rice flour blend calls for Authentic Foods Brown Rice Flour Superfine and it can be hard to find locally. I tried her recipes with my regular old Bob’s Redmill brown rice flour, and with the exclusion of pizza, her recipes did not turn out. When I finally broke down and got some of the Authentic Foods Superfine, all the recipes worked beautifully. She only uses the brown rice blend for the non-yeasted breads, so you could still enjoy quite a few of her recipes if you don’t want to buy the special flour, but the brownies, cakes, cookies, etc all require the superfine flour, and YES it does really matter. So, although I really recommend the cookbook, it is probably only worth buying if you are going to also buy the special flour.
In a nutshell: This cookbook is amazing. If you buy her suggested flour and read her tips, I think even a novice baker will produce great gluten free baked goods. Although, there are few things about the cookbook that weren’t perfect, the recipes make up for any shortcomings. Honestly, the best gluten free cookbook I have used in the last six months. If you are going to buy just one gluten free baking book, this is truly is the one to buy.