I buy a bunch of new cookbooks and cooking magazines. I read them, cook from them and let you know if they are worth your purchase or not. Read on for my review of one of my latest purchases, Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays: 60 Recipes for Traditional Festive Treats.
Jeanne is one of the long-time members of the gluten-free blogging community, and writes a blog called The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. Basically, she is an expert.
Jeanne and I tweet back and forth on occasion, and I was stoked when I heard she was working on this book. Because the first Christmas that I was gluten-free was the worst. There were mediocre cakes, bad cookies and many traditions that were skipped. I resented my diet. For someone who misses their favorite traditional baked goods, this book is a savior.
The baked goods in this book range from cookies to cakes to savory items. She managed to work in traditional baked goods I have only dreamed about making again. There are cookies from Sweden and Germany (there seem to be more German-heritage recipes than others in the book, but I am ok with that). There are traditional Kwanzaa cookies and a cake for Hanukkah.
This book is a treat, and all 60 recipes sounded like ones I wanted to try. My only criticism? She doesn’t have a recipe for my grandma’s bon bon cookies.
I also pestered her into answering some questions about the book.
Why did you decide to write this book?
Chronicle Books approached me to write this book. They had seen a series I did on my blog about holiday baking and they thought it would be nice to expand it and turn it into a book. And that’s what happened!
What are the most important keys to success for the gluten-free baker?
I think it is important to read and follow the directions at first–before you start altering recipes. And it’s important to make sure you use gluten-free ingredients. Gluten hides in odd things like grain-sweetened chocolate chips. And it’s important to have fun. Baking is supposed to be enjoyable!
What was the hardest part about learning to bake gluten-free?
When I was diagnosed, in 2000, there was very little information out about gluten-free baking. Those of us who were doing it were kind of making it up as we went along. So, it was like re-learning to bake all over again. Luckily, I discovered some good guides, like the books of Bettte Hagman (The Gluten-Free Gourmet) that really helped me in my learning process. Also, ingredients like gluten-free flours were much harder to find–I did a lot of online ordering to get the ingredients I needed. They are so much more available nowadays.
What is your favorite recipe from the book?
This is always a tough one for me to answer. I love all of them! I think my two favorite recipes right now are the Rugelach and the Gingerbread (the cookies and the house)–because they are so good and they are fun to make. But, really, I love it all. Also, I’ve made the Buche de Noel several times this fall for events and it is a hit every single time–so that one is near and dear to my heart right now.
Did you learn anything about gluten-free baking while writing your book and what was it?
I did a lot more research into the science of baking as I wrote my book. I really wanted to be sure I was giving out good information about how and why things work or don’t work. So, I learned a lot about the “hows” of wheat baking and then translated those into the “hows” of gluten-free baking.
Are there plans for more cookbooks?
Oh, yes! I hope to write more. I really enjoyed this process and I hope to do it again. I am working on a proposal for another one, but I can’t share what it’s on right now!
Author: Jeanne Sauvage
Format: Hard-cover, full color cookbook
Buy it or Forget it: Buy it (and be the talk of the cookie swap this year)
Must try recipes: Specuulas & Orange Scented Olive Oil Bundt Cake