Cookbook: The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen
Overall Impression: This book is for all former gluten-lovers who are now gluten-free. It’s a comprehensive guide to making and baking all of your old favorites without sacrificing any of the taste or texture!
As someone who has been gluten-free for almost ten years, it's fun to see the evolution and progression in gluten-free baking — from inedible loaves of dense bread and sad-looking treats, to cookies and cakes that fool my gluten-eating family on a regular basis! We've come a long way, baby! This book is totally a part of that. It's a celebration of knowledge, striving to deliver results that are as much like the "real thing" as possible.
Recipes I Tried
- Buttermilk Waffles, pg. 42-43
- Chocolate Chip Cookies, pg. 212-213
- Quinoa Salad with Bell Pepper and Cilantro, pg. 82-83
Reading The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook is just as much textbook as it is filled with recipes. If you crack it open, they immediately school you on the science of gluten, what it is, and what it does. The book is in depth and thorough. They explain their special flour blend for this book, as developed by America's Test Kitchen (ATK), and the reasons why it works the way that it does. If you have an inner science geek living inside your brain (like I do), you're going to love it!
Beyond the science-y stuff, the cooks at ATK break down different gluten-free grains with a thorough description of each. There are charts comparing different gluten-free products on the market as rated by a tasting panel, determining things like which gluten-free breads and pastas they would recommend straight off the shelf. I had never seen something like that done before, so it was fun to read and gave me some good ideas on new products I might want to consider.
The Recipes + Cooking From The Book
In order to get a real sense of what this cookbook can do, you're going to have to whip up The America's Test Kitchen Gluten Free Flour Blend (located on page 13). Like many gluten-free flour blends, there are quite a few ingredients that go into it. This one is a mixture of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and some nonfat milk powder.
If you don't have all of those items already in your kitchen, it can be a rather pricey hurdle just for making a loaf of bread. I get it. I've been there. The cooks at ATK have also taken the time to compare the way their flour blend bakes up against some of the leading blends in each recipe. Say you don't have tapioca starch, but you do have a bag of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour on hand — you're not out of luck. They have included a section for each baked recipe on how to get the best results with flour substitutions. I thought this was thoughtful and handy, and something that will be majorly appreciated by those who feel overwhelmed by making, or simply don't have the time to make, a batch of flour blend every time they go to bake a few treats.
However, I will say that my results with the ATK Gluten Free Flour Blend were pretty incredible!
I let my gluten-loving husband pick the recipes we were going to test from the book. His first pick was waffles! I wasn't surprised since he's a total breakfast junkie. We broke out our waffle iron, whipped up the batter, and voila! They were beautiful. Oh, and the crunch! I love a waffle that gets crispy on the outside. They weren't super dense or spongy or soggy like other gluten-free waffles.
I asked my husband why these tasted different and he simply said "Because, Gina, they taste like regular waffles." Yup, indeed they did. I would definitely make them again!
That same weekend, we also tested the book's Chocolate Chip Cookies. I always feel a chocolate chip cookie is a baseline for testing any cookbook (or, maybe I just really LOVE chocolate chip cookies).
I followed the recipe to a "T" but my cookies came out differently than what was pictured in the book. Mine were cake-y and slightly smaller with less spread. This was slightly disappointing since I usually opt for the gooey, flat cookies with crispy edges. However, their flavor was on point! They were really delicious.
My mom also came by that day and snagged a cookie off the counter. When I went for my own cookie, she actually warned me they weren't gluten-free! I had to explain to her that they came from a gluten-free cookbook I was trying out. She also compared them to the cookies that my grandmother used to make around Christmas. You don't know my grandmother, but if you did, you'd know that is some serious praise! Bravo, America's Test Kitchen! You get granny points. If that isn't an actual measure of rating baked goods, I think we can all agree it should be.
Although the book is loaded with sweets and baked goods, it also covers everything from homemade gluten-free pasta to savory dishes and salads. I'm definitely going to try their Baked Macaroni and Cheese! Look at that thing! Hubba hubba.
What Could Be Better
My only complaint is that it can be pricey and impractical to bake gluten-free — though this could be a complaint of any gluten-free cookbook. The amount of ingredients you have to source and buy in order to make a gluten-free flour blend can be stressful. But the reason that this book succeeds is because of its really great, thoughtfully put together flour blend. So you trade a little bit of stress for a big pay off! In my opinion, that's a small price to pay if you want to eat waffles that taste EXACTLY like waffles.
The book is smart, well thought out, and full of useful explanations about how gluten-free baking works. It's a science lesson with a side of really great-looking recipes! This is the perfect book for that family member who needs to go gluten-free, but worries they'll never get to eat a real-deal piece of cake again. Its recipes are very comprehensive, spanning breakfast all the way through classic American dinner dishes like fried chicken and meatloaf. This book is an amazing asset for anyone with a gluten issue.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.