Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Review: Learning To Bake Allergen-Free
Finally, someone has put everything all in one place! Colette Martin, a veteran food blogger (http://www.learningtoeatallergyfree.com/) and a familiar face at the link parties and in the discussions around here, has just published a wonderful, comprehensive book explaining how to bake without common allergens. Hooray!
Not simply a recipe book, Learning To Bake Allergen-Free is more like a textbook for people who have just been thrown into scary world of cooking without food allergens. Subtitled "A crash course for busy parents on baking without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy or nuts," this carefully organized book functions like an in-home university, including detailed baking lessons and even a "baking lab" for students to practice what they've learned.
If you've ever tried to replace food allergens in your traditional recipes, you are familiar with the hidden pitfalls this entails. For example, white flour cannot be replaced with gluten-free flour in the same amount. The texture of the final product will not be the same, nor will the moisture level. Colette explains the science behind this paradox, and methodically details the adjustments you might need to make in your own kitchen.
As the mother of a child allergic to multiple foods, Colette understands the struggles inherent in cooking everything from scratch, using unfamiliar ingredients. Her baking lessons lay the foundation for a new way of looking at feeding the family, addressing how to replace wheat, milk, soy and eggs as you bake. Do you know why a gluten-free flour blend works better than using one single flour? What the role of gums are in baking? What flaxseed gel can do for you? Colette's lessons will enlighten you.
When you're ready to try out what you've learned, part two of the book gives you the chance to practice, with simple recipes interspersed with "crash courses" filling in blanks about baking. Start by working with batters, and make some simple muffins and quick breads. Learn about the difference between baking soda and baking powder while you're at it. Move on to trickier batters for scones and doughnuts, then it's off to butter-free cookies, tarts and pies. Yeast breads are next, then cakes, brownies, mousse and even puddings. Hungry yet?
The recipes are mouthwatering, from Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake to Cranberry Orange Scones. Tired of paying top dollar for gluten-free breads that don't taste very good? Make your own with Colette's recipes for sandwich bread, dinner rolls, bagels, English muffins, and even croissants! Feeling left out at parties? Bring your own pizza crust, Chocolate Cupcakes, Berry Crumble, or Lemon Tart.
Colette even addresses the individual challenges of brand-name baking mixes. Specific recipes are included for particular mixes, and the appropriate replacements for milk, butter, and eggs with each. How about some Raspberry Brownie Bites using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix? Or Pancakes with Chocolate Maple Syrup from Orgran Stonemilled Buckwheat Pancake Mix?
Beautifully photographed, this book is chock full of clear, useful information. It may just become your new baking bible! Click here to find Learning to Bake Allergen-Free on Amazon. Chef Ming Tsai, celebrity chef and owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA, says "This book will give you the depth of knowledge you need to be a successful allergen-free baker."
In addition to blogging at Learning to Eat Allergy Free, Colette Martin is also Vice-Chairperson on the Board of Directors for the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation, and a member of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, and of the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders.
Congratulations to Colette on a spectacular effort!