Carol Fenster could easily be referred to as the mother of gluten-free baking. When it comes to gluten-free bread she has worked every angle. An abundance of grains and blends grace her now extensive repertoire, which she shares within Gluten-Free 101. Carol knows her gluten free bread.
While Gluten-Free 101 does include a chapter for Main Dishes and Miscellaneous recipes, this is really a baking book. Filled with loads of bread and dessert recipes, Carol goes straight for the major weaknesses of a gluten-free diet.
Unlike many cookbooks, Gluten-Free 101 is not just about the recipes. Carol begins with a large section of easy reference guides and how-to’s. I loved the excellent flour primer that explained the many options available (far more than I could believe) and how they should be used in baking or as a thickener. She also included a “hidden gluten” list, kitchen tips, and quick recipes for her basic flour blends.
As for the recipes, there are many options to choose from. I was dying to trial one of the very cool yeast-based loaf bread recipes (each has a charted ingredient list for making different amounts or using different sized loaf pans). However, based upon the ingredients I had on hand, I decided to go for the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins first. They were beautiful, delicious, and quite “glutinous.” In fact, they were very near the perfect texture. Both my husband and I noted that the chocolate chips were a bit over-powering against the delicately flavored background, but mini-chips (from say Enjoy Life) may have faired better.
Baking gluten-free does require some special ingredients, though once you acquire a few baseline ingredients, this cookbook will carry you through numerous options. While I did have the xanthan gum and flour blends on hand for the Banana Muffins, I was lacking in unflavored gelatin powder, guar gum, and some of the starches that the other recipes called for. However, should I decide to get more in depth into gluten-free baking, these really are pantry staples, and fairly affordable for the amount used in each recipe.
My Extra Notes & Tips:
- The book itself is nothing fancy. A simple cover with inexpensive paper and no photos. However, the layout is perfect. One neat and tidy recipe per page, nicely designed, easy to follow, and easy to find what you are looking for.
- Gluten-Free 101 is completely wheat and gluten-free, with enough options to refer to it as a good dairy-free / casein-free resource also. Nonetheless, these recipes do rely quite a bit on eggs. If you are seeking a gluten, dairy, and egg-free cookbook, then I recommend one of Carol’s other titles, Cooking Free. I haven’t trialed it myself as of yet, but I hear that it is an excellent resource.
- All of Carol Fenster’s books are gluten-free.