29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Alanna has produced an utterly gorgeous (no surprise) cookbook on baking with alternative (gluten-free) flours. I follow the Bojon Gourmet, so I was expecting jaw-dropping photographs, meticulously crafted recipes, easy-to-follow instructions, and tasty results. That's exactly what I got.
In a slight departure from what feels like normal, the discussion of each individual gluten-free flour, where to find it, what brand Alanna tested her recipes with, how to store it, how to use it, and it's nutritional impact is at the back of the book. The cookbook jumps quickly into recipes after a brief intro and a how-to-use-this-book list of the "easy", "intermediate", and "advanced" gluten-free flours and associated recipes.
Each recipe is accompanied by a photo of the finished product and a cute little header about where the recipe stems from. I've found several recipes that I'm extra excited to try because Alanna references them as being inspired by some of my favorite places in SF: Plow in Potrero Hill (Millet Skillet Cornbread with Cherries and Honey), Josey Baker Bread (Nut and Seed Loaf), and Tartine (Buckwheat Pear Galettes). Aside from an astonishing array of various gluten-free flours, Alanna's desserts rely on (delicious) ingredients like butter, creme fraiche or sour cream, cream, buttermilk, yogurt, maple syrup, and brown sugar. There are some (4) vegan recipes and one recipe I noticed labelled lactose-free. Many of these recipes could be adapted to specific dietary needs as necessary, but it may take a fair amount of trial and error for perfectly-created recipes like the pie and tart doughs.
The section on pies/tarts spans what feels like a third of the book, so if you aren't a huge fan of pies and/or making your own pie crust, that may not be an ideal proportion. However, I would strongly encourage everyone to give it a try. There's a very detailed two-page photo spread on making the perfect gluten-free pie crust, and the variety of pies is outstanding. I've already learned something new just from my quick read of Alternative Baker - maybe if I position my pies lower in the oven I'll have less trouble with soggy crusts. That seems like a "duh" idea now, but I'd never considered it.
These recipes range considerably in amount of time and energy required to prepare them. Plenty can be accomplished in under and hour, and some, like pies with fresh pie crust, will take more planning ahead. While I can do the math in my head, I do wish there was some indication at the top of each recipe for expected prep time.
In buying this cookbook, you are purchasing about 6 repeat recipes that are available on her blog (maybe more as time goes on). It's all upfront as celebratory posts gearing up or after release of this cookbook. In her blog posts she says they are from the book or slightly adapted from the cookbook. At first I thought I noticed even more and was a little disappointed, but spot-checking seems to indicate I was mistaken.
So far I've made only the blondies (with white chocolate, coconut flour (to avoid the weird texture of the flakes - hurray!), and cashews). They are fantastic, and any one, gluten-free or not, will love them. I'm looking forward to testing a lot of other recipes - I'm excited about at least 2/3 of the 140 recipes included in this cookbook.