You probably already know Peter Reinhart from his much-loved bread baking books The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Artisan Breads Every Day. Heck, this is the guy who taught many of us how to bake in the first place! So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that his latest book was not another tome on pizza crust or the perfect baguette, but rather a collection of gluten-free and sugar-free recipes. But I figure that if anyone can develop gluten-free breads and treats worthy of a bakery display case, Peter Reinhart can.
• Who wrote it: Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace
• Who published it: Ten Speed Press
• Number of recipes: 80 recipes covering breads, pizza, crackers, breakfast treats, cookies, cakes, and pies
• Recipes for right now: Toasting Bread, Simple Cloverleaf Rolls, Tomato Basil Pizza Crust, Cinnamon-Apple Muffins, Chocolate-Coconut Scones, Hazelnut-Vanilla Cookies, Pecan Sandies, Cocoa-Nut Brownies, Carrot Cake, Apple Crumble Pie, Pumpkin Pie
• Other highlights: The recipes are mostly reliant on almond meal as the main flour, and pull in a nice variety of other grains and flours as supporting actors. The recipes were developed to use either Splenda or Stevia Extract as the sweetener, though the authors say that you can substitute regular sugar if you don't need to keep a sugar-free diet. The recipes themselves also cover a terrific range of basic everyday recipes and special occasion treats that sound truly mouthwatering.
But I have to be honest: I'm left feeling a little confused and unsettled by this cookbook. For people who need to keep close watch on their diet for health reasons like diabetes and celiac disease, this cookbook is an absolute gift. No question. But I also feel like there are parts that read like a weight-loss diet book and that just perpetuate the "you can have your cake and eat it too" no-guilt mentality that has ruled our diet industry for decades. Ingredients like margarine, butter-flavored sprinkles, diet soda, and even Splenda itself also give me a confusing health message: these are the kinds of industrialized artificial ingredients that I would typically avoid in recipes (personally speaking), but here they are part of a healthy daily diet?
I really admire Peter Reinhart, and have great faith that the recipes in this book have been thoroughly tested, tasted, and perfected. Even as someone who doesn't need to eat gluten-free or sugar-free, there are actually a great many recipes that appeal to me. (That Apple Crumble Pie with Almond-Pecan Pie Crust is so going to be on my Thanksgiving table.)
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. Have you taken a look at this cookbook or made any of the recipes yet? What's your impression?
• Who would enjoy this book? Diabetics, people with celiacs, and other people on restricted diets (or people who are cooking and baking for people on restricted diets)
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking: 80 Low-Carb Recipes that Offer Solutions for Celiac Disease, Diabetes, and Weight Loss by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace
More from Peter Reinhart The Kitchn:
• Peter Reinhart's Best Pizza Dough Ever
• What Makes Bread So Special? Peter Reinhart's Speech from the Taste3 Conference
• Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day
• The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
(Images: Emma Christensen)