The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread is an ambitious cookbook aimed toward those with multiple food allergies, primarily gluten allergies, and also vegans with gluten allergies.
The best cookbooks for vegan or allergy diets have recipes that everyone finds delicious, not just vegans or those with allergies.
After all, how often does a group of people sitting down to eat together all follow the same diet?
It happens pretty rarely at my house, where diets range from dairy-free meat eater to ovo-lacto vegetarian to gluten-free vegan.
Since it's a lot of work to make multiple versions of the same dish, we all generally end up eating according to the most restricted diet.
That's why I was excited to receive The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free by Laurie Sadowski. Bread is one of the most challenging gluten-free items to get right and finding vegan gluten-free bread is even harder.
Sadowski's descriptions of the roles that the different gluten-free flours play in a recipe were the most useful part of her cookbook.
First I made gluten-free New York-Style Bagels. Sadowski got the texture right; they were as chewy as a wheat flour bagel which, according to a friend with Celiac Disease, is the most important quality in a gluten-free bagel. She loved them, but the gluten eaters who sampled them all said the taste was a bit off. Perhaps the unusual flours are an acquired taste.
Next I made Sadowski's gluten-free Essential Pizza Crust. Once again the texture was good and this time the taste was more acceptable to everyone, even the gluten lovers. Also, it's hard to make a homemade pizza that doesn't taste superior to chain pizza.
I didn't follow the pizza directions completely; instead of pressing the dough into a round as Sadowski says to in her recipe, I placed the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and rolled it out. That was easier and less messy.
The third recipe I tested was Gluten Free Old-Fashioned Gingerbread. This was by far the most popular bread I baked from The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, probably because the flavor of the spices and molasses covered up any odd flavors from the flours. The texture was a bit gritty (typical of gluten free flours), but that didin't stop the kids from enjoying it!
I do wish that The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread contained more pictures; except for a few uninspiring pictures on the cover, there are no images of the finished dishes.
Food for vegans and for those with allergies should be enjoyable for everyone, not just those who follow these diets. This book does not quite achieve that, but the recipes I tested got high marks from gluten-free eaters.
I admit that it can be hard to find baking products that are both gluten-free and vegan, or a good cookbook that caters to gluten-free vegans or vegans with multiple food allergies. The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread does this well, and I recommend it for those purposes.