Pros: excelent photography, useful wide ranging recipes
Cons: print face is small and can be diffitult to read
Some of you have been following my struggle to find my cooking comfort zone with my newly found gluten free lifestyle. Going gluten free isn’t as easy as one might think and many of the commercially prepared gluten free items are lacking in flavor, and tend to be dry, crumbly and well they are a poor alternative to the “real” breads and items made with regular flour. My search for decent useable gluten free cookbooks has resulted in just a very small handful of books that are “ok”. Those books can produce several decent recipes that either on their own or with some tweaks can produce items that are not awful to eat, but are rarely good enough to serve to those not relegated to living gluten free lifestyle. Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking may just be the bridge between those who have to live GF and those who do not.
If you have ever read a GF (gluten free) cookbook, you know that most will provide you with their version of GF baking flour. Everyone has a different idea of what combinations of flours should go into the perfect GF baking flour mix. So to be completely fair to this book I chose to make and use their version of GF flour. In all honesty, I am still searching for a blend that I like so trying their version was not a hardship for me. They use a combination of rice, sorghum, and potato flour, several starches, and other ingredients in their GF flour. I used this flour for the recipe I made.
One of the most important, and first hurdle the person on a GF diet has to face is bread. This was very hard for me as homemade bread fresh out of the oven slathered with melted butter is my big weakness. I mourned the loss of this culinary delight when I finally knew I could no longer eat bread the way I was used to. So naturally the first and most definitive recipe in any GF cookbook is its bread recipe. To put it in the vernacular of today’s generation…OMG, this is a very nice recipe.
Let me start by saying, any recipe I can make before 6am is a good one. This recipe was not only easy to follow but made sure the reader knew what to expect at each step. (i.e.: foam on the warm milk and yeast mixture when it is active) The dough, unlike many GF bread dough, is quite workable and after about 1 hr had risen quite well. There are 2 tests for a good GF bread in my opinion. How is it warm? And how is it cold? Seems simple enough but not if your used to GF breads. Some are quite nice warm but the loaf will “gum” up if you cut it warm, and others when cold are dry and crumbly and are not really easy to use in the “normal” bread type uses. The bread didn’t rise up quite as much as I hoped but was a fine size for sandwiches. This bread was moist and flavorful when hot. It didn’t get “gummy” when sliced, and the texture was quite pleasant. Impressive, I thought, but how would it be in a few hours when it had completely cooled? Well, my answer came and it was fabulous.
Perhaps it is the multipurpose flour blend the husband and wife team have developed or their many years of trial and error but I for one gluten free person will gladly benefit from their labors. This book covers many different cooking appetites from the everyday to the elegant. The pictures , which by the way are taken by the authors husband, are great in focus close up actual pictures of the items. A little side note here…many other GF cookbooks seem to think a picture of a pitiful 1 ½ inch muffin that looks dry and tasteless is sufficient, not this book. All the pictures show lovely items that ACTUALLY look as good as the finished product you can produce at home. Imagine that?!
Overall I am quite pleased not only with this book but with the flour blend. I look forward to trying many more recipes from this cookbook. If you are a home cook or a chef cooking for someone on a gluten free diet, this book is a definite needed addition to your book shelf.
Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf
1 ¾ cups Milk (2%)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
3 egg whites
3 cups Artisan GF Flour Blend ( page 16)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, scald the milk with the sugar, butter, and salt whisking occasionally (until the sugar and salt dissolve, and the butter melts). Remove from the heat and allow to cool just until warm (about 115 F - any hotter and you might kill the yeast or scramble the eggs in step 2)
- Add the yeast and let stand until the mixture foams, about 5 minutes. The foam means your yeast is alive and ready to go. Add the egg whites and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and xanthan gum. Add to the milk mixture in the saucepan, and stir until well mixed.
- Transfer the dough to a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Bake for 40 minutes. When done baking, allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For an egg-free bread, increase the milk to 2 ½ cups, omit the eggs, and increase the xanthan gum to 1 teaspoon. Follow the same steps to make the bread.