Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book review: Baby Cakes

I try....I try very hard. Baby Cakes was the first of my first experiments with gluten free, dairy free baking. Here is what has stood out to me so far:

~ I had to spend $50 on various flours, and other new baking ingredients. I thought this would keep me stocked for a long time, but no. I have already run out of many pantry items and need to restock. This is an expensive endeavor.

~The first recipe I tried was the chocolate chip blondies. I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty good. The next recipe I tried was for chocolate chip cookies. They tasted just like the blondies. As did the vanilla cake....

~I realized that all the recipes taste the same because the author uses predominantly coconut oil in every recipe. She then tries to mask it by several tablespoons of vanilla extract (which is also expensive, and I have used it all up as well).

~I then noticed that all the recipes- from cookies to brownies to scones- have the same texture. I'm assuming this is because these treats are lacking in what is supposed to give baked goods texture- gluten. Everything is very light, and slightly fall apart-y. This is great for a cake, but not for a cookie.

~Even though everything came out of the oven fairly the same, they did not all go in that way. I find this odd, because each recipe has very different ingredients. This brings me to my next point. In pastry school, we learned how to develop our own recipes based on basic quantities and ratios. For example, a cookie or cake usually has X amount of flour, Y amount of leavener, and Z amount of liquid. Even an avid baker can begin to recognize patterns in recipes, such as cookies commonly having two eggs and a teaspoon of baking soda. I noticed no pattern whatsoever in this book. One muffin recipe might use brown rice flour and potato starch, while another calls for spelt and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Even the sweeteners varied from evaporated cain juice to agave nectar to regular sugar. I can only guess that each recipe must have been developed by sheer trial and error. It felt more like chemistry to me than baking.

~All in all, the one recipe so far that I would make even if I didn't have to was the raspberry scones (I used blueberries). They were the closest to the texture of what I'm used to, and the coconut oil flavor actually worked with it

~Oh, one more thing: I noticed that if I freeze the cookies they almost taste normal.

1 comment:

The Saunders said...

Do you ever use the expeller pressed coconut oil? It has no flavor. I know a lot of people who pay a little extra for it because they are so sensitive to the coconut flavor. Just a thought. You can buy it here for much cheaper