When Jean Duane contacted me about reviewing her wonderful cookbook, I have to admit, I was a little bit worried. I had seen some of her recipes online and was afraid that my own culinary skills might not measure up. In fact, I think I felt a little bit like Julie in the move Julie & Julia getting ready to make Boeuf Bourguignonne! I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover photo.
But I should not have worried so much. Jean's recipes are really accessible and the three items I have baked so far have turned out great!
The recipes in Bake Deliciously! Gluten & Dairy Free were attractive to me for several reasons. First of all, they were created originally with the intention of being gluten-free and diary-free. On purpose. Often GF cookbooks offer substitutions for the dairy part, kind of as an after-thought, and sometimes the substitutions do not create a product equal to the original recipe. But Ms. Duane triple tested her 150 original recipes. In addition, these recipes focus on whole grain, unprocessed flour mixes, offering a higher fiber content and low (or no) cholesterol. Each recipe has the caloric content and nutrition information, which I really appreciate.
Finally, although her recipes require mixing GF flours, the source of my anxiety, Ms. Duane makes it really easy. Her blends generally follow the ratio of 50% grain flour, 25% protein flour, and 25% starch. But here's the best part: her recipes usually have only 5 steps or less. The hardest part of her recipes is shopping for the flours, but once that's done, you're all set! She provides very helpful tips about the art and science of GFCF baking and for several recipes, she also has photos showing how the substitutions will change the appearance or texture of the final product. I learned a lot from her comparisons.
Many of her ingredient choices are truly inspired. I chose to make the vegetable crackers, which uses a "flour" that you make from dehydrated vegetables. I admit to having rolling pin phobia. I have NEVER made a GFCF cracker that turned out right. But these did! The Prince was delighted! I cut them into shapes using cookie cutters and was thrilled to sneak veggies into a snack for him!
The chocolate tahini icing was another hit. It uses only 3 ingredients: maple syrup, tahini, and cocoa powder and makes super-easy, really yummy frosting.
But the recipe that has endeared Ms. Duane to the Professor's heart forever are her mini-brownies. We are admitted chocoholics in our house. This brownie recipe uses mini-muffin cups to make the most adorable, delicious, morsels we have ever tasted. And the perfect portion size! We loved them!
Jean Duane also has a terrific website called, http://www.alternativecook.com/ where you can find many recipes and access her wonderful blog Ask Jean. She will also convert a non-GFCF recipe for you for a small fee. In addition, Ms. Duane also has a line of how to cook GFCF dvd's, including Kids Meals. You can sample several of her cooking videos on her You Tube Channel, which you can access from her website.
If you love to bake and are ready to go beyond ready-made mixes, then Bake Deliciously! Gluten & Dairy Free is the book for you!