Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan from Chronicle Books (review)

I just made the tallest gluten free, (almost) casein-free cornbread I have ever made. From scratch. And it is delicious! The recipe is one I adapted (I made my own "buttermilk" using casein-free milk-substitute and lemon juice; I did use the real butter called for in the recipe) from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free This recipe for southern-style corn bread (page 31) is among our favorites.

Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan is a beautiful 224-page hardback cookbook that gives readers and bakers 75 recipes for desserts and pastries that are gluten free and made from scratch. The photographs inside are so gorgeous, I want to try almost every one of them. (I am not a fan of the savory caramelized alsatian onion tart.) I have blueberries in the refrigerator for the cobbler recipe, and I'll make that cobbler if there are enough blueberries left after my family has been nibbling at them. That shortbread on the cover has me thinking about strawberry shortcake, too. Or a mix of strawberries and blackberries with shortcake. (We have no organic strawberries in the supermarket at the moment; I looked for them all weekend.)

In addition to an intro, notes on ingredients, a resources section, index, and table of equivalents, Morgan gives us seven chapters covering "biscuits, muffins & sweet breads; cookies & bars; tarts, pies & cobblers; cakes, big & small; crepes & pâte à choux; custards, puddings & ice cream; and dinner-party showstoppers".

Blackbird Bakey Gluten-Free is another cookbook that we girls oooh and aaaah over together; it's quite the backdrop for relationship building in our autism intervention. Looking together at the recipes and pictures and dreaming about what we want to make and for what occasion is a wonderful experience. The fact that we can make something that ALL of us can eat makes it even better. ;)

Check out some of the photos here. You'll want to own the cookbook when you see the photos. ;)

Morgan uses a different blend/ratio of flours for each recipe, which sets her recipes apart from the folks who develop a blend that you mix, store, and have ready to use in any recipe. While having that one blend ready to go is convenient, (and I do like convenience!), having recipes that are developed individually is attractive, too, because I trust that they've been tested and tested and that the recipe developer knows the recipes are better for the flour blend having been individualized for each recipe. I think there's room for both kinds of gluten-free cookbooks on my bookshelf.

I seem to be stuck on blogging about the topic of cornbread recipes. I have a one recipe that is good fried on the stove in a little oil, like johnnycakes, yet I keep searching for a baked cornbread recipe that is a little more like what I grew up with. This one's closer to the one my grandmother makes. (We never put a can of whole kernel corn in our cornbread growing up; the corn adds something special.)

No, this is not an allergen free cookbook. If you, like me, are more than gluten-free, you'll need to know how to make your own substitutes. Gluten-free recipes are a great starting point, though, when the flour substitutions have already been made for me. I sense myself becoming braver than I used to be; I am ready to try Morgan's strawberry tartlets with vanilla pastry cream using coconut based milks instead of cream and half-and-half.

My friend Amy made the lemon bars from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free. Click here to read about the lemon bars.

Check out the Blackbird Bakery web site here; follow on facebook here. Morgan provides readers hints, tips, and recipes, and offers an occasional giveaway.

Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free is a fantastic cookbook for gluten-free baking. I look forward to baking my way through it.

Chronicle Books sent me a copy of Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free for review purposes. I am not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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