Finding Fantastic Free Foods with Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book

January 19th, 2010 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

When I say free, what I mean is free of some things, such as: dairy, eggs, refined sweeteners, gluten and highly-refined flours. The recipes in Jennifer Katzinger’s Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book are long awaited options for many of us used to walking past bakery windows full of enticing treats without a second glance. The recipes are not free of all common allergens, if you happen to be allergic to nuts or soy or corn then there are a few recipes you would need to augment, but these recipes open the door to decadent desserts and savoury staples for those who make culinary choices based on personal and ethical considerations (although, the author does include honey in her definition of veganism).

I flipped through this book as soon as it arrived and was immediately tempted by the salad options in the last chapter-everything sounded so fresh and flavourful. So, that’s where my journey with Jennifer began. I was tempted by all of the recipes featuring my personal favourite salad star – kale, but I decided to push myself to try something new and outside my regular lunch roster (it is 2010 after all).

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the Millet with Basil Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts for a holiday potluck. I added some white navy beans to increase the heartiness of the dish (since I thought it may be the solitary vegan offering at the affair). The dish is colourful, full of flavour and texture contrasts and certainly satisfies as an entree.
The Hijiki Carrot Slaw was another spectacular salad. I love finding news ways to enjoy sea vegetables. I’m not one for anything that tastes fishy – so the addition of a little toasted sesame oil makes for a lovely Asian twist on this simple vegetable combination.
After trying these terrific salads I was tempted by the soups and sandwiches but I thought since this was a bakery book I should really move on to some of the sweeter confections it contains.
Now, I should confess that I have very little practice with gluten-free flours. I don’t have a stock pile of xanthumgum or brown rice flour. I wasn’t prepared to revamp my pantry until I was certain that the results would be worth the investment. With this in mind I turned to some of the sweet recipes that would be possible to enjoy without searching out specialty ingredients.

The Chocolate Walnut Triangles are the simplest treat in the book. With just 5 ingredients and a couple of minutes of hands-on time this decadent dessert is the perfect treat to share with friends who are avoiding conventional confections (full of animal-products and gluten!). You could easily vary this recipe with the addition of your favourite spice or extract.
Next, I prepared a loaf of the protein-rich Quinoa Bread. I wasn’t sure how the loaf should look when I removed it from the oven but the texture was relatively light and the flavour had a lovely, nutty note. Since this loaf does not contain any gluten the texture is more crumbly then you might be used to but if you are accustomed to gluten-free baking then I’m sure this would satisfy your carb cravings.
I enjoyed a slice with a small slather of almond butter and a few banana slices – the perfect compliment to quinoa’s hearty flavour.

And here is my failed attempt at the Hazelnut Honey Cookies (I know, I was sad too). I don’t use honey as it doesn’t fit in my definition of vegan food so I substituted agave, something I have done successfully numerous times before. However, after placing this wet cookie batter on the baking sheet using the suggested scoop size, I found the batter all ran together to form a bubbling, sticky, sweet mess. The flavour is amazing – with the addition of lavender and dried cherries to the hazelnut flour and agave, but the mess did not resemble cookies.
Jennifer’s book is a comprehensive collection of all the recipes you would expect to find at her Seattle bakery, including: cakes, cookies, scones, pies, cupcakes, breads, soups, salads and savoury entrees. If you are already comfortable with gluten-free baking, then I’m sure you’ll love exploring the array of recipes in this book. If you are unfamiliar with vegan and gluten-free baking you may want to start with a book that contains more tips about texture and technique that will ensure a fantastic result.
As someone with a number of allergies I appreciate what Jennifer has created with her bakery and cookbook, an oasis for those who constantly worry about cross-contamination and misread labels when consuming an otherwise benign dessert.
I would love to hear your vegan and gluten-free baking success stories. I tend to stick to raw desserts since they are less impacted by the chemistry involved in traditional treats. I know, its the easy road.

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    it all looks great! i've eaten most of the things at the bakery and they even did my wedding cake! great company, love the author.

  2. Posted January 20, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for this review, I have heard so many mixed things about that book. The chocolate walnut triangles look really amazing!

  3. Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Bitt,
    I would love to hear about the items you've enjoyed at the bakery-it would entice me to attempt more recipes. I'm worried about my gluten-free baking inadequacies but inspired to prepare some fantastic treats for my gluten-free friends.

    Mihl,
    I know, I've read about a few other baking failures as well. I think like the reviews of Babycakes, new ingredients require learning some new basic techniques. Let me know if you give any of the recipes a try.

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