Well, my dietary restrictions are beginning to add up. I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was a teen and have been vegetarian for a while now because of animal rights issues. Earlier this year when I learned that I was gluten intolerant, I wondered if there would be anything left for me to eat at all. I was glad to find out what was making me sick, but a little worried about how I would get along without bread—or even worse, cookies and cake.
After I climbed out of my little nest of self-pity, I started doing some research. I did a little experimentation with gluten-free flour mixes and baking, and was less than satisfied with the results. Although they were edible, they had a metallic, chalky taste from the flour that I couldn’t seem to mask. Luckily, I found Flying Apron, and have since found a number of baked goods I can whip up that fool even my most picky friends.
It’s not that much of a surprise that the book is so good—it’s written by Jennifer Katzinger, who is an expert in the world of gluten free delights. She owns several successful branches of the acclaimed gluten-free Flying Apron bakery in Seattle. To give you a heads up: the book is dairy-free and soy-free, along with being wheat free. I understand the sentiment: lots of people suffer from these allergens too, so why not just leave them out altogether. Be aware that you can add dairy in on your own, though, if you’re in need of some extra flavor.
I think the secret to the book’s success is the way it pairs rich flavors, to overcome any strange ones that may come up because of the unusual flour. Take the maple berry muffins, for example—they combine raspberries, blueberries, and maple syrup in a way that makes them wonderfully sweet and flavorful. Other recipes, like the hazelnut cookies, stay away from strange flour mixtures altogether, instead utilizing simpler ingredients like hazelnut or almond flour. My blueberry almond scones and apricot almond individuals turned out wonderfully as well. They were very moist and fluffy–you wouldn’t suspect that they were missing gluten at all. My one beef with the book are the bread recipes; the resulting bread turns out pretty crumbly, and is certainly not like bread in the usual sense. You can’t make a sandwich out of it, although it still tastes pretty good.
All in all, I give Flying Apron 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend it especially to any gluten free beginners. The presentation and photographs are beautiful, and the vast majority of the recipes turned out deliciously, as the pictures led me to believe.