Monday, August 29, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Baking: A Review

Publisher: Alpha Books, The Penguin Group
Copyright: 2011 Donna Diegal

Donna Diegel is no stranger to vegan baking, and her new cookbook, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Baking" is a testament to her expertise.

Baking vegan means baking without butter and eggs, among other ingredients, and using such items as soy lecithin, flax seed and tofu as substitutes for these baking staples.

Think the cookies, cakes and breads are going to taste dull, flat, or worse, like hippie food? Guess again.

I made Ms. Diegal's Classic Chocolate-Chip Cookies and they taste very close to the cookies made with butter and eggs. And to demonstrate further how solid this recipe really is, I used gluten-free flour.

That's right. I made gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies and they taste really good.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Baking" is more than a collection of recipes; it's a resource guide to being vegan in the kitchen. Ms. Diegal explains, in easy-to-understand terms, why some ingredients shouldn't be used and why the substitutes will work. After reading the "primer" at the beginning of the book, I had a clearer understanding of how baking vegan works.

But what I like best about this book is the recipes are foods I actually make, like white bread and blueberry muffins and peach cobbler, foods my family will actually eat.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
And now, I can make them vegan. Vegan butter spread and egg substitute means lower cholesterol content, an important part of my husband's and mine dietary needs. And it appears that many of the recipes are adaptable to gluten free flours.

If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, need to watch your cholesterol, and/or suffer from food sensitivities to dairy, this cookbook is for you. And if you are vegan already, this cookbook is an excellent addition to your cookbook collection.

The only drawback to this book is the absence of photos of the finished foods, but that's not such a problem. Contemporary cooks are familiar with these recipes already, so really, we're just learning how to make them for the vegans in our life.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review. This in no way influenced my review. The book is awesome.