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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Baking theory good, recipes a little disappointing, 18 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World's Premier Culinary College (Paperback)
I bought this in Borders in a hurry one day.

I was attracted to the book as it is a product of the Culinary Institute of America, so there is some pedigree there; and because it contained a good 40 pages on the theory and chemistry of gluten-free baking. This is something I needed to learn: I have a good understanding of regular (wheat) baking, but had begun to realise that there was more to gluten-free baking than finding a substitute for wheat. Why did one commercially-available GF bread contain only rice flour, but another had rice flour and potato starch, and yet another had tapioca? Why does one GF recipe use buckwheat and not amaranth? Surely there was some reason beyond just happening to have one, and not the other, in the cupboard?

Well, this book explains all that. It also gives 5 different flour blends suited to different baked goods, and provides lists of what to avoid and what to buy, as well as recommending a range of equipment, together with care advice. In addition, there's some interesting ingredients used, such as cola, sparkling water. Marvellous.

I'm normally someone who makes full use of every cookery book I get, but I found this one a bit of a letdown. Geared to the US market, the 150 recipes are undoubtedly wonderful, but I have no real use for the likes of Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Jalapeno Cheese Bread, Bialys, or Whoopie Pie, etc. I want a toasting loaf, a sandwich loaf, something I can turn into bread-and-butter pudding, and replacements for crusty breads, wholewheat, malted multigrain and rye bread. Bread, bread, bread, bread, bread, bread. Not 30 variations on a muffin.

On the other hand, what our colonial cousins do well, they do outstandingly: I personally wouldn't dream of putting buttermilk and Coke together - except maybe on the same shelf in the fridge - but the Cola Cake is sinfully delicious. Even my husband, not a cake lover, was demanding more. The Irish Soda Bread is the best imitation I have tasted since - well, real soda bread. Unbelieveably, it's even better than Darina Allen's - it might even be good enough to use as the basis of a fruit soda. A little soft in the crust, and I might not use as much sugar next time, but fantastic. And I see recipes for pie crust, pasta and puff pastry which will have to be investigated...
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