Friday, October 22, 2010

Cookbooks: Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan

Let’s face it: it’s very difficult to make the words “Gluten Free” seem sexy. This is partly because of the way they sound -- how can “gluten” even sound appetizing? -- but also because most of us have had less than sterling experiences with food advertised in this way.

These are the main factors that contribute to the surprise you feel when you encounter Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free (Chronicle Books) by Karen Morgan. At first glance, it appears to be one of those superlative cookbooks that tantalize you with recipes for desserts that cause you to gain weight just by looking at them. In many ways, Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free is exactly that. But it’s also more. Or maybe less? All of which was Morgan’s plan for the book:
At the time of my diagnosis [with an auto-immune disease] in 2002, the available gluten-free products were so unsatisfactory, I took it upon myself to do something about it.
And what she did was quite a lot: living and working in France, a blog, an online bakeshop, and now, this gorgeous book.

This is gluten-free baking gone practically mainstream; a book stuffed full of all the favorites those who must avoid gluten miss the most: Sunday Morning Pancakes, Popovers, Scones, Pound Cakes, even Éclairs and Parfaits. Recipes for the kind of things people who can’t have them want the most, made with sensible and mostly easily attainable ingredients described in a straight-forward manner.

Everyone who likes baking will enjoy this book: great pictures, good, solid recipes, interesting new ideas. But for people who have to have gluten-free? It might just change their life. ◊

Monica Stark is an American writer and editor and a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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