(I am also posting this review to Amazon.com even though there are already tons of people there giving it rave reviews and I posted the above photo to the product page as well.)
I love this book. The Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal (amazon affiliate link).
Some background: Last January we found out my daughter was allergic to oats, corn, soy, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, milk, eggs, grapes, and some melon. We were also vegetarian to begin with and had no idea what we were going to eat after I cleared the pantry and fridge of all the food we couldn’t eat. I reserved every allergy related cookbook at the library and started trying recipes. It is funny, I usually would buy cookbooks because they were pretty or had one or two things I liked but when your entire way of eating has to change you venture beyond your comfort zone. The first recipe I tried were the snickerdoodles. I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients required so I made some substitutions and what do you know, they were great. I thought, if they were great without following the recipe properly, what if. . .? So I invested in the ingredients required and they were even better. I ran out of renewals on the book and it was time to get it to own. Not only is this book great, Cybele Pascal has really fostered an online community via her website, facebook, and twitter so you can ask questions if you have some off the beaten path allergies to contend with.
To keep my daughter safe we all eat allergen free in our house and this book has made it easier. There are more steps than you might be used to (mixing up flour mix before you even start baking if you run out of the batch you’d made previously) but that is all a part of learning a new way of cooking and eating. I have baked most of the recipes with guar gum but am now using corn free xanthan gum as well. . .
Here are the recipes I’ve made and my thoughts, there are 21 items below so if you are worried about getting your money’s worth with this book, never fear:
–Banana Flax Muffins (pg 25) – My 2 and a half year old LOVES these and will eat them for snacks, breakfast, you name it
–Blueberry Millet Muffins (pg 30) – We all love these, especially me, they are that good, the batter tastes like old school yellow cake mix to me and you can eat the batter because there’s nothing in it that isn’t okay to eat without baking
– Glazed Vanilla Scones (pg 36) – I like these but scones are really subjective so they’re not like scones I remember but they’re still tasty
– Flax Biscuits (pg 39) – We make these almost once a week now with vegan onion gravy and they are delicious, the flax gives them a great “nutty” taste and my daughter cuts a few into gingerbread man shapes
– Cinnamon Rolls (pg 41) – A bit of a time investment but we love these, I made them last as a new christmas morning tradition
– Chocolate Zucchini Bread (pg 45) – More like a moist, rich, chocolate cake; the chocolate baked goods shine I think because the cocoa powder masks some of the flavor that comes with rice flour
– Pumpkin Bread (pg 46) – Another favorite of my daughter and something I bake at least once a month
– Blueberry Boy Bait (pg 49) – I have made this with strawberries and it was a great summery cake
– Classic Chocolate Chip cookies (pg 54) – Great, just great
– Double Choco Chunk Cookies (pg 55) – These bake up like little cakes of chocolate deliciousness
– Snickerdoodles (pg 59) – So fun to make and a great flavor
– Orange Spritz Cookies (pg 65) – I serve these at parties and no one would ever know they are allergen free, I had one little girl come up to me and tell me she loved these and her mom actually has a cake baking/decorating business!
– SunButter Greenies (pg 70) – Never could get these to turn green but they’re yummy and freeze well, actually the spritz cookies do too
– Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats (pg 82) – I had to make some substitutions (brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup, etc.) but they’re great
– Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (pg 92) – Versatile and tasty
– Carrot Ginger Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting (pg 94) – I make these for my mother in law who loves carrot cake and she thinks they’re wonderful
– Chocolate Maple Cupcakes with Rice Milk Chocolate Ganache (pg 103) – My favorite of the cupcakes in this book, I refrigerate these and they take on a wonderful fudge texture, I use the ganache on strawberries to make chocolate dipped strawberries
– Strawberry Shortcake with Vegan Whipped Topping (pg 112) – One of my only misses with this book, I think it is because I can’t use cornstarch so it isn’t the fault of the book
– Focaccia (pg 168) – My husband loves this and he’s able to eat “real” bread when he’s at work so I think that is a high compliment
– Pizza Crust (pg 169) – I’ve only made this with guar gum and mean to try it with xanthan gum but it isn’t like the pizza crust you’ll remember but it is good though you have to not overbake it
– Continental Rolls (pg 175) – A nice basic roll, have only made it with guar gum so far and I suspect the right gum might improve the texture
If you are just starting with allergen free baking or are more “seasoned” I think you will like this book either way. The tone is friendly and the details and tips are crucial. Please be sure to read the introductory pages before delving in as many questions are answered there.