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Cook the Books: Gluten Free Baking for the Holidays

gluten free baking for the holidays by jeanne sauvageI 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.

The interview

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!

The Rating

Author: Jeanne Sauvage
Format: Hard-cover, full color cookbook

Stars: 5/5
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

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