Friday Book Review, Dec 2

This week, let's take on Gluten-free Baking Classics, by Annalise G. Roberts.  Yet again, I pulled this book off the shelf of the library to play with, though it's widely available in bookstores.
My first flip through this book was a little disappointing.  No glossy pages.  No color pictures.  No cute fonts.  And, in fact, some of the font choices are a little hard on the eyes.  Visually, it's about as interesting as one of the "Dummies" series books.  It also starts a little slow.  The first three chapters discuss gluten intolerance in general and then detail some of the strategies for baking gluten-free.  Finally we reach the meat of the book, chapters on muffins, cakes, pies and tarts, cookies, other sweets, breads and pizzas, and other savory baked goods.

Don't judge a book by it's cover.  Or even by it's overall graphic design.  What this book lacks in the "wowie zowie" visuals, it makes up for in the quality of the baked goods its recipes produce.  Most of them are decent dopplegangers for their wheat flour counterparts.  The only exception to this is that a few of them do tend to be a bit over-crumbly.   This may be due to the use of relatively minimal amounts of binders (xanthan or guar gum) and tends to only occur in those products that are also light in the egg department.

The other nice thing about this book is that it covers a lot of "classic" recipes, such as gingersnaps and German chocolate cake, that many people miss deeply when going gluten-free.

So often, gluten-free cookbooks also feel the need to accomodate other special dietary requirements as well - dairy, soy, sugar, vegan, etc.  But the more you restrict the ingredients available, the more sacrifices you make in the end product.  Which is what makes this book a small treasure, and one that I intend to add to my own collection when I can.  (I promise, I'll take this copy back to the library for someone else to discover).


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