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Friday, December 2, 2011

A Gluten-Free Cook Book for Foodies at Last

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan (Chronicle Books $24.95)
  • Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan (Chronicle Books $24.95)

We usually don't review cookbooks by non-local authors here at SFoodie, but sometimes we'll make an exception in the case of something exciting or different that catches our eye.

There's no way around the fact that gluten-free cookbooks tend to be boring and bland. They are often written by unskilled chefs and geared towards the health food community rather than people who actually enjoy flavor. Fortunately, that's not the case with this book. Karen Morgan is not gluten-free by choice. The self-trained pastry chef was forced to give up gluten in 2002 after being diagnosed with Celiac disease.

After seven years of experimentation, Morgan has developed a repertoire of recipes for

rich, decadent, and over-the-top desserts. Her recipes are based on French baking and pastry methods, except she mixes all of the dry ingredients first, rather than creaming the butter and sugar and then adding the flour. She's found that this makes for a better final gluten-free product.

As with most gluten-free bakers, Morgan mixes several different flours together to get optimum results in different recipes. She relies mainly on cornstarch, and flours made from glutinous rice, almond, millet, sorghum, and tapioca.

Among the book's 75 recipes, you'll find gluten-free versions of traditional apple pie, buttermilk biscuits and chocolate chip cookies -- if that's what you're looking for. However, creative recipes like chesnut genoise hearts, young coconut cupcakes, basil infused custard with lemon chantilly cream, and white truffle infused honey pannacotta are what really makes this book stand out.

Out of the seven chapters, perhaps the most appealing is "Crepes and Pate a Choux." Morgan tackles gluten-free cream puffs like a pro, proving that she is a baker first and Celiac second.

Helpful baking tips and unique recipes are among the many reasons why I love this book. Plus, its unassuming size makes it easy to travel with or squeeze into an overstuffed bookshelf.

Marla Simon is a San Francisco-based chef, food stylist, and food writer.

Follow her on twitter at @Marla_Simon

Follow us at: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Marla Simon

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