runpunkrun: silverware laid out on a cloth napkin (gather yon utensils)
[personal profile] runpunkrun posting in [community profile] gluten_free
A gorgeous and thoughtful cookbook where each chapter focuses on a specific flour.

Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours, by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein:

It took me a while to check this out of the library because nowhere on the cover does it say gluten free, but it is. Medrich's goal was to showcase these flours rather than use them as substitutes for wheat, and every chapter focuses on a single flour as the "hero" flour, either on its own or maybe with a little rice flour for support. It features rice, oat, corn, buckwheat, chestnut, teff, sorghum, nut, and coconut flours. Xanthan gum is used, though rarely, and flaxseed meal is used only when its flavor fits with the finished product. There's no added starch, either, no tapioca, no potato, no corn. I believe this means baked goods will take longer to go stale. Many of them have notes that say the flavor actually improves after a day or two of rest. Compare this to other gluten-free recipes that say an item is best eaten on the day it's made and if you can't eat an entire bundt cake in one sitting that's your problem.

The recipes are a nice mix of homey and classy, with cakes, cookies, tarts, crackers, and bars. It also throws in a few pancakes, waffles, and crepes, as well as a couple of gelatos and some frostings, glazes, and fillings. Measurements are in U.S. volume and metric (grams). Each recipe has storage advice and helpful head notes, many have flavor variations, but only about half have a color photo. There's an index by hero flour and then a more general index, which is usable, but not comprehensive. I had to find gelato under "ice cream," for example, and when I went to look up "Thai rice flour" it's not in the index at all, which is a problem because there are a lot of words in this book and I couldn't remember if it was covered in the introduction to the rice chapter, or the introduction to the book itself.

With that small exception, the book is beautifully organized and comes with a thoughtful introduction by Medrich where she describes her process of experimenting with these flours and what she learned. She goes on to say we don't need to know everything that went wrong, but it's in our best interest to follow her instructions exactly, especially when it comes to buckwheat, which is fussy and needs to be stirred the appropriate length of time or it gets weird. I often skip the introductions in cookbooks—especially those that cater to special diets because they can get preachy—but I think in this instance it's important to read the introductory text. It's all about process, so it's relevant to the recipes, and there's not a word about health.

If I could eat dairy, I'd be all over this book like ants on a log. Even with that limitation there are a few recipes that are dairy free (sponge cakes, chiffon cakes, the carrot cake, a pecan cookie), and a couple more where you could experiment with replacing the butter. Other recipes use yogurt, milk, clarified butter/ghee, and cream and would be harder to mess with, and because the flours are the star of the show, there's no discussion about how to substitute for them, but because the flours aren't usually mixed together you can just skip that chapter—if you can't do corn, for example—and not run into it elsewhere. Though if you can't do rice, the options are limited indeed.

The recipes make it easy to experiment with alternative flours without having to buy a lot of wacky ingredients to support them, and Medrich has an approachable tone and lots of tips for how to deal with the trickier aspects of baking.

I haven't made anything from this yet, but the teff brownies are on my to-do list.

This review appeared on my journal in a slightly different form.

Date: 2019-11-26 10:05 pm (UTC)
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
From: [personal profile] sonia
Ooh, that sounds interesting! Thanks for the review. I've been experimenting with changes to your lemon bars (I should post about that!) and mostly I've found out that I don't understand cassava flour.

Date: 2019-11-26 11:22 pm (UTC)
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
From: [personal profile] sonia
By the way it looks like there's a new edition from 2017 that does say Gluten-Free up front. I've put it on hold at the library.

Date: 2019-11-26 11:51 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Compare this to other gluten-free recipes that say an item is best eaten on the day it's made and if you can't eat an entire bundt cake in one sitting that's your problem.
This pain is all too real. Some cake recipes I've made have been inedible the following day even though they were amazing on the first day. UGH.

Thanks for this review! The book sounds useful and the magic words that had me instantly go to google to look it up were "without having to buy a lot of wacky ingredients to support them". Can't be arsed with all sorts of extras.