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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Cookbook!
Having to switch to gluten free baking was challenging enough, but I have to avoid dairy, nuts and nut flours, soy, too. Baked goods have tried my patience for the past 8.5 years. Because my child has sensitivity to soy, I can't buy a lot of GFCF mixes that are on the market. And many years I lost count of the absolute flops that went straight to the trash can. GFCF baked...
Published on December 30, 2009 by Penny

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wish it was better
I'm an average from-scratch cook and I love eating, so helping my son with his allergen-free diet is both a shock and a learning experience. I'd hoped that The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook could help fill in the holes that our new diet created, but no luck so far. Unlike the gluten-free cookbooks, this book recognizes the need to eliminate eggs, soy, and dairy as well...
Published on March 6, 2012 by K. Dyer


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126 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Cookbook!, December 30, 2009
This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
Having to switch to gluten free baking was challenging enough, but I have to avoid dairy, nuts and nut flours, soy, too. Baked goods have tried my patience for the past 8.5 years. Because my child has sensitivity to soy, I can't buy a lot of GFCF mixes that are on the market. And many years I lost count of the absolute flops that went straight to the trash can. GFCF baked goods can be gritty and gummy, especially when you are avoiding eggs, too. (Because we rotate eggs, sometimes I need to bake without them.)

The demands of a child with autism monopolized my time, and I have, over the years, found a cake mix, a brownie mix and a pancake mix that I like and have stuck with them, and that's pretty much it.

Gluten free flours, xanthan gum, and all the "tricks" to GFCFSFEF+++ baking are expensive. They take up a lot of space in kitchen cupboards. Spending the money and time to try a recipe only to have turn out gritty or gummy is frustrating, and I admit, I gave up in a big way. (Gluten was the first big allergen that we removed 8.5 years ago, and I remember it being so very challenging at the time. Little did I know I'd have to remove a lot more and that I would envy folks who are simply gluten free -- I think that would be so easy!)

I simply never understood the science to baking GFCFSFEF+++ breads, cookies, cakes and other baked goods. I didn't have the time or the background to try to figure it out.

Until now. Now, I'm getting an education about the alchemy of baking without traditional baking ingredients like milk, wheat and eggs: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, How To Bake without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree nuts, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal. Cybele Pascal is a chef who happens to be the mother of a child with severe food allergies. She went to work adapting all of our favorite baked items and put her collection of successes into a beautiful cookbook. And yes, there are color photos of some of the recipes (I like photos!).

I. Adore. This. Cookbook! This book is not just a collection of recipes. Instead, Pascal takes the time to teach me about baking allergen free with almost the same restrictions we have at my house. The section called, "The Dry Goods Pantry" in Chapter 1, Stocking your Allergen-Free Pantry, combined with all of Chapter 2, "How To Bake Allergen-Free" provide a mini-baking school, and I would like these pages + the resource section in the back of the book available in a purse sized tri-fold to take with me to the grocery store. Pascal offers suggestions for replacing eggs, dairy, and wheat flour that have me looking through "regular" cookbooks with a new perspective.

I wish I'd had this cookbook nine years ago.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE BAKING BOOK!, December 30, 2009
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This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
I was so impressed with this book! It is truly a one of a kind piece of art, from the fantastic recipes to the gorgeous photos. The pantry list contained in the beginning of the book is an extensive, easy to read, detailed list of what to keep on hand, from food items to the types of appliances and tools-- wow, what a help! This is one gigantic step in making baking a lot easier and very motivating if you are not someone who normally bakes. Just one flip through this book and you'll find yourself inspired and preheating the oven!
This book is for everyone because most adults and children, though not considered "allergic" to anything, DO have sensitivities of some kind. Unfortunately, without being tested, most of us just go around feeling "lousy" (headaches, sinus problems, brain fog, ADD/ADHD) after eating the trigger foods. As a busy working mom, I do not have the time to research healthy recipes and figure out what ingredients to eliminate and exchange. It is also so disappointing when you do all that work and the final product doesn't taste good. This book does the preliminary work and provides delicious recipes with ingredients that "do not disturb". Knowing that I am giving my kids great desserts that have been "screened" is so satisfying. They absolutely loved the Morning Glory Muffins and the Chocolate Zucchini Bread and have asked for them to be put into their lunchboxes. I am thrilled with this book and consider the whole "allergen-free" experience quite an upgrade for my family-- a must have for every kitchen!

Linda Rossi NY
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid recipes, beautiful book; note that flour mix contains potato, August 13, 2010
By 
archivonaut (East Coast, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
As others have noted, this is a beautiful book -- the kind of photos that motivate me to get baking! The author includes lots of great detail in the introductory sections where she explains the different types of ingredients involved in this type of baking. Although I had figured out most of them already, I wish I'd had this reference earlier, and can imagine what a time-saver this would be for someone who is new to GF/allergen-free baking. The recipes give specific instructions without seeming overly complicated.

Pascal offers recipes that are appealing and straightforward to make. She specifically instructs readers not to make substitutions, but in my case that was necessary in order to make the cookbook usable. In addition to dairy, eggs, gluten, I'm avoiding nightshades (and yeast), and the basic flour mix for these recipes includes more than a cup of potato starch. I knew this when I ordered the book, but hoped that arrowroot would work as a substitute for the potato starch in the basic mix. So far it seems to working pretty well (see notes below).

There are quite a few recipes that call for Ener-G egg replacer, which also contains potato, so for now I'm starting with recipes that use other leaveners/binders. I did splurge for the recommended Authentic Foods superfine rice flour, which was almost $14 for a 3lb bag at my local health food store. Can't tell yet if I think it's worth the extra cost.

I appreciate the range of different recipes included in this book, from cupcakes to scones to tarts and pies. I'm eager to try the Morning Glory Muffins, which look to be a hearty, less-sweet muffin (shredded carrots, apple, sunflower seeds ...). I'm also intrigued by the idea of using pureed prunes (babyfood) as an egg replacer. I figure if I get at least 3 solid recipes from this book, it will have been worth ordering.

Note: I have now made 3 recipes -- they are all things I would make again. This book has turned out to be a good purchase.

**************

Notes on specific recipes:

In each of these I did a one-for-one replacement of arrowroot powder for potato starch in the flour mix.

Chocolate cupcakes -- I used Ghiradelli cocoa powder, which I find has a very nice flavor (though people with need to be ultra-strict about cross contamination of soy, nuts, etc. should check the label b/f using). The cupcakes smelled great and had a great flavor. They took longer to bake than the recipe's suggested time (despite my oven thermometer) so I just left them in a little longer. The flavor was great and I loved the texture of the top of the cupcakes (reminded me of my mom's homemade cupcakes). The texture on the bottom didn't have quite as much "structure" as I would have liked, but it did improve once they cooled completely. I am not sure if they would "pass" with gluten-eaters; then again, the unmodified recipe (with potato) might be better. I would definitely make them for myself again.

Chocolate zucchini bread recipe -- love texture (dense and moist), and it's a great way to use up the zucchini from the CSA share! I found this recipe to be way sweeter than I can handle: it calls for a cup of agave and a cup of chocolate chips (in addition to cocoa powder). Next time I'll try cutting back on the chocolate chips, or possibly omit them altogether. I'm also not a huge fan of cinnamon with chocolate, so may also try omitting that and just sticking with the vanilla. I sliced most of the loaf and wrapped individual slices in cling-wrap and then put them in a big ziplock bag and froze them. Works really well to pull out individual servings! [Note: I tried omitting the chips and that didn't work so well -- they might be important for masking certain flavors and improving texture]

Buckwheat muffins -- The batter was really thick and I had to pile it up in the muffin liners, but these baked up nice and tall. I subbed blueberries for the diced apple (I like blueberries and had them on hand). These also froze really well. The straight buckwheat definitely has an "earthy" flavor, that some may not care for.

-----

Blackberry quinoa muffins (with agave) -- These also baked up nice and tall. I subbed blueberries for blackberries (just b/c that's what I had in the freezer) and subbed sorghum flour instead of corn flour (I'm trying to cut back on corn, and I didn't have corn flour on hand anyway). This recipe doesn't use any potato, so I didn't have to sub there. I've just eaten one warm out of the oven, and I like that they're not so sweet. They definitely have a quinoa flavor, which I like just fine. If you can eat sugar, these might nice with a little sugar sprinkled on top to finish them bakery-style.

Recently I've adapted the recipe to use a different flour blend, b/c I make these often and was going through my quinoa flour really quickly. In this version, I reduce the quinoa and also eliminate the corn flour:

1 c. quinoa
1 c. millet
1/4 c. buckwheat
3/4 c. sorghum

-----

Banana muffins -- Just made for the first time tonight. These are tasty -- banana and cinnamon, dense and moist in the middle (The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of bananas and I was a little short so I made up the difference with applesauce.) Another winner, also nightshade-free.

Hm ... given the number of useable recipes I've gotten out of this, I should probably bump my rating up to 5 stars.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Dessert Book for Food allergies, April 15, 2010
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This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
I have been diagnosed with several food intolerances: Gluten, soy, egg, and dairy. This book finally addresses these issues in most of its recipes. The chocolate cake recipe with no eggs and dairy is the best GF cake recipe I have made. Even my non GF friends love this cake. The texture and taste is as good if not better than any regular cake I have had in the past. Most recipe books for GF baking still use egg, soy or dairy in their recipes so when I try to substitute ingredients they don't fare as well. This book has already tried and tested to come up with the perfect final product. With this book, I need no other for perfect desserts.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have been baking from this book constantly for over a year!, April 4, 2011
By 
Homa Woodrum (NV United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
I love this book.

Some background: Last January we found out my daughter was allergic to oats, corn, soy, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, milk, eggs, grapes, and some melon. We were also vegetarian to begin with and had no idea what we were going to eat after I cleared the pantry and fridge of all the food we couldn't eat. I reserved every allergy related cookbook at the library and started trying recipes. It is funny, I usually would buy cookbooks because they were pretty or had one or two things I liked but when your entire way of eating has to change you venture beyond your comfort zone. The first recipe I tried were the snickerdoodles. I didn't have a lot of the ingredients required so I made some substitutions and what do you know, they were great. I thought, if they were great without following the recipe properly, what if. . .? So I invested in the ingredients required and they were even better. I ran out of renewals on the book and it was time to get it to own. Not only is this book great, Cybele Pascal has really fostered an online community via her website, facebook, and twitter so you can ask questions if you have some off the beaten path allergies to contend with.

To keep my daughter safe we all eat allergen free in our house and this book has made it easier. There are more steps than you might be used to (mixing up flour mix before you even start baking if you run out of the batch you'd made previously) but that is all a part of learning a new way of cooking and eating. I have baked most of the recipes with guar gum but am now using corn free xanthan gum as well. . .

Here are the recipes I've made and my thoughts, there are 21 items below so if you are worried about getting your money's worth with this book, never fear:

--Banana Flax Muffins (pg 25) - My 2 and a half year old LOVES these and will eat them for snacks, breakfast, you name it
--Blueberry Millet Muffins (pg 30) - We all love these, especially me, they are that good, the batter tastes like old school yellow cake mix to me and you can eat the batter because there's nothing in it that isn't okay to eat without baking
-- Glazed Vanilla Scones (pg 36) - I like these but scones are really subjective so they're not like scones I remember but they're still tasty
-- Flax Biscuits (pg 39) - We make these almost once a week now with vegan onion gravy and they are delicious, the flax gives them a great "nutty" taste and my daughter cuts a few into gingerbread man shapes
-- Cinnamon Rolls (pg 41) - A bit of a time investment but we love these, I made them last as a new christmas morning tradition
-- Chocolate Zucchini Bread (pg 45) - More like a moist, rich, chocolate cake; the chocolate baked goods shine I think because the cocoa powder masks some of the flavor that comes with rice flour
-- Pumpkin Bread (pg 46) - Another favorite of my daughter and something I bake at least once a month
-- Blueberry Boy Bait (pg 49) - I have made this with strawberries and it was a great summery cake
-- Classic Chocolate Chip cookies (pg 54) - Great, just great
-- Double Choco Chunk Cookies (pg 55) - These bake up like little cakes of chocolate deliciousness
-- Snickerdoodles (pg 59) - So fun to make and a great flavor
-- Orange Spritz Cookies (pg 65) - I serve these at parties and no one would ever know they are allergen free, I had one little girl come up to me and tell me she loved these and her mom actually has a cake baking/decorating business!
-- SunButter Greenies (pg 70) - Never could get these to turn green but they're yummy and freeze well, actually the spritz cookies do too
-- Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats (pg 82) - I had to make some substitutions (brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup, etc.) but they're great
-- Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (pg 92) - Versatile and tasty
-- Carrot Ginger Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting (pg 94) - I make these for my mother in law who loves carrot cake and she thinks they're wonderful
-- Chocolate Maple Cupcakes with Rice Milk Chocolate Ganache (pg 103) - My favorite of the cupcakes in this book, I refrigerate these and they take on a wonderful fudge texture, I use the ganache on strawberries to make chocolate dipped strawberries
-- Strawberry Shortcake with Vegan Whipped Topping (pg 112) - One of my only misses with this book, I think it is because I can't use cornstarch so it isn't the fault of the book
-- Focaccia (pg 168) - My husband loves this and he's able to eat "real" bread when he's at work so I think that is a high compliment
-- Pizza Crust (pg 169) - I've only made this with guar gum and mean to try it with xanthan gum but it isn't like the pizza crust you'll remember but it is good though you have to not overbake it
-- Continental Rolls (pg 175) - A nice basic roll, have only made it with guar gum so far and I suspect the right gum might improve the texture

If you are just starting with allergen free baking or are more "seasoned" I think you will like this book either way. The tone is friendly and the details and tips are crucial. Please be sure to read the introductory pages before delving in as many questions are answered there.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.

EDITED 4/24/11 to add: I tried the Pizza Crust with corn free xanthan gum. Oh. My. It is so different and really good, just goes to show you really need to invest in your ingredients, the guar gum one was okay but this was pizza-eque. I have already made it for my family again.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recipes with rigorous attention to cross-contamination issues, August 9, 2010
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This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
An allergen-free cookbook that will make you feel like you aren't missing anything!

As head cook and pantry mistress in my house, I manage both life-threatening food allergies and multiple intolerances. The offenders have come and gone over the years. When my daughter was a baby, eggs and dairy were out. A few years later they were back in but peanuts and tree nuts were out. Ten years and many lab tests later, peanuts are still very out, tree nuts are back in and the entire family is now gluten-, dairy-, egg-, reflux- and stomach ache-free. What does that mean? Gone are mother nature's most reliable binders - albumin, gluten and casein and whey - replaced with ingredients that must be combined in just the right ratio otherwise disaster strikes. And while I tend to be an intuitive cook who doesn't balk at the chance to be experimental, baking can be a bit stressful at times.

So it is with great joy that I recommend The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, by Cybele Pascal. Cybele Pascal does it all without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. And IT, at least all that I have baked so far, is wonderful. A bonus is that Cybele has considered folks with life-threatening allergies to the point that she included only ingredients that could be sourced without risk of cross-contamination. The recipes won my stomach over, her attention to the needs of those managing life-threatening allergies won my heart over!

I often tend toward the wholesome while the rest of my family is wooed by icing, food dye and sprinkles. The fact that the first batch of Quebec Maple Date Cookies I made disappeared in less than 12 hours in my house says something; the second batch will go even faster because I discovered Cybele's recipe for Rice Milk Glaze, which I proceeded to put on top of these previously healthy (and refined-sugar-free mind you) cookies. Yum.

But so far, the dairy-free crème de le crème for this family is the cinnamon roll recipe. Who in this world that must avoid gluten, dairy, eggs and peanuts has had enough cinnamon rolls lately? No one! So, now my 9-year old son can make cinnamon rolls from scratch - thank you Cybele! I haven't let him make the Rice Milk Glaze on his own yet because I am sure that we would then have to have a gallon on hand at all times and it would find its way onto all sorts of things that it doesn't belong on, like carrots!

The final word on Cybele's cookbook - buy it AND follow the directions. She tested her recipes thoroughly and if you start "experimenting" with quantities or substitutions, you'll not get the full delicious effect. But my true confession is that I did add a handful of oats to the Quebec Maple Date Cookies - couldn't help myself!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is "AMAZING"!, January 29, 2010
This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
This book is truly AMAZING! I am a true "foodie" and whether you are a "foodie" or not, have food allergies, prefer vegan foods, or just want to have healthy recipes for baked goods...this book is for you! I am a food allergy support group leader and the mother of a teenager who has a life threatening food allergy to peanuts (we also stay away from nuts due to the cross contamination issue). My daughter also had a severe egg allergy until she thankfully outgrew it a couple of years ago. To add to the challenge of having food allergies in the family, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 3 years ago. Back then, when my daughter was still allergic to eggs, trying to find yummy tasting foods and recipes for my daughter and myself, that were safe for both of us...well, let's just say it was quite the challenge.

Cybele Pascal's latest book "The Allergen Free Baker's Handbook" truly is "AMAZING" in that it has made baking fun for us again! Ever since being diagnosed with Celiac I have been struggling to find good recipes that we can all eat and enjoy, not only for our immediate family, but also for our extended family and friends. As all of us "foodies" know...we love to cook and bake for everyone around us and it's not much fun when we can't taste test what we are making! Before Cybele came out with this book I had one flop after another, with my friends and family politely and hesitantly saying..."mmm...it's good..." with the expressions on their faces telling me the real story of what they really thought. :) Thankfully this is no longer an issue, as with Cybele's book I have had great success with comments such as "This is DELICIOUS!" and "This is really, really GOOD!"...with a look of delightful surprise when finding out the yummy baked goodie they were eating was completely allergen free.

My daughter and I have been having so much fun doing the "Julie and Julia" thing (for those of you who are familiar with the movie)...only instead of doing this with Julia Child's cookbook, we have been making recipes from Cybele's book (though we do not blog and we are not writing a book). We have all been reaping the rewards...my husband especially...and he doesn't even have food allergies! We did not think we would be delighted to be using egg replacer again, but we are...yup, who would have thought? We have gone back to using egg replacer and we make the recipes with the ingredients they call for...allergen free...because they are so yummy and healthy! Not only that...we can then eat the raw cookie dough when making cookies! We have made the Classic Choc Chip Cookies, the Double Choco Chunk Cookes, Maple Apple Crumble, Cinnamon Buns, Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting, Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Frosting, Red Velvet Cake with Velvet Frosting, as well as the Pizza Crust and Focaccia Bread. YUM!!! Next on the list...Blueberry Boy Bait...

The only challenge I had was in trying to easily find the Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour. It can be ordered online, but I am at our local health food store so often that I did not want to pay extra for shipping. Well, it's worth it to order it online if you have trouble finding it at a local store. I was using Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour for the Gluten Free Flour Blend and all of the recipes were turning out great...but when it came to the Classic Choc Chip Cookie recipe, my cookies were turning out lacy. Cybele addresses this issue on her website...she talks about the different rice flours and even shows a picture of the difference between the choc chip cookies made with the Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour vs. the Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. She also states in her book that her recipes can be made with other brown rice flours than Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour, but that they may not turn out as well.

I am very thankful for this book...Cybele definitely did her research and provides all of the information you need to have success with her recipes...from providing resources for purchasing ingredients, to giving instructions on how to have an excellent outcome when making her allergen free goodies and savories. I highly recommend it...not only for "foodies" like myself, but for people who have been recently diagnosed with food allergies or Celiac Disease...as learning how to bake free of the allergens you need to stay away from can be a challenge. This book will help you get started... Enjoy!

Mary Lenahan
Leader
MOCHA Fox Valley
Food Allergy Support Group
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wish it was better, March 6, 2012
By 
K. Dyer (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
I'm an average from-scratch cook and I love eating, so helping my son with his allergen-free diet is both a shock and a learning experience. I'd hoped that The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook could help fill in the holes that our new diet created, but no luck so far. Unlike the gluten-free cookbooks, this book recognizes the need to eliminate eggs, soy, and dairy as well as the gluten; with so many variables to change, I'd hoped that a cookbook could point the way.

I read all the reviews before buying the book and noticed that self-professed professionals hated the book while at home cooks raved about it. I weighed my thoughts and bought it anyway; pros sometimes overlook new directions in favor of doing things the way they've always done where a neophyte will follow the directions very carefully. Sadly, that turned out not to be the case here.

My nine year old son jumped straight in and marked all the recipes he wanted to try, then began mixing up Snickerdoodles using the Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix I'd purchased. He'd missed the memo about Pascal's special flour mix, but I couldn't fault his enthusiasm. The cookies were a total failure, however, so bad that he didn't even finish the few on his plate. Not only was the garbanzo bean flour taste very prominent, the cookies were damp and pasty in the middle. I vowed to try it again with the recommended flour mix. The second pass was as bad as the first without the beeny overtones. This time it was merely pasty and gritty (Lundburg brown rice flour instead of Authentic Foods, which none of the four stores I looked at in my granola-head town carried.)

Using the recipes is also an exercise in frustration; I've never seen so many dirty dishes in my kitchen outside of a holiday baking spree. Pascal comments over and over that precision measuring is crucial, but everything in the book is measured by volume, not weight. I'm going to put this one on the publishers, however; it is so curious how 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour is magically *exactly* 400 grams. No one sane writes a recipe that way; Either round up the volumes or get out the scale.

The second recipe we tried a was the scones, but that was another failure. Again, the damp, pasty center after baking for double the time, but they weren't even scone-like. The recipe calls for canola oil instead of shortening and the dough is wet and clingy, completely unlike the dry, shortening cut dough that scones should have. I attempted it again today, using Micheal Ruhlman's Ratio idea, going 4-2-1 with Pascal's flour mixture, yogurt, and shortening, and got something that is much more like scones, even if it still leaves a pasty taste in the mouth. So I can only chalk half the trouble up to the flour mixture Pascal created, but that doesn't excuse recipes that don't work.

We are completely disappointed by this cookbook.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally!!!, April 7, 2011
This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
I was given this cookbook for my birthday last year and can honestly say that it is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. We've been a food allergy family for the last 8 years and have struggled with substituting for many of the common "kid foods" like pizza, cookies, cake, brownies, etc. Most of the recipes we've tried over the years were failures (I actually ruined a baking sheet one time!) and throwing out food made with expensive ingredients was frustrating. Also frustrating was the lack of cookbooks available for people with multiple food allergies. We have to avoid wheat, barley, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, milk, mustard and coconut, so a cookbook with only nut-free recipes does us little good. The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook has become a baking "bible" in our house. Initially, locating some of the ingredients was challenging, but now xanthan gum, agave nectar and hemp seeds are staples in our pantry. Cybele Pascal's recipes are just plain good and the instruction in the book is easy to follow. In addition, she provides information on how to become an allergen-free baker. It's not just about using different ingredients, but about changing the way you think about baking altogether.

The recipes that I feel deserve special mention are the Rolled Brown Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Chunk Blondie Bars and Vanilla Cupcakes. The Rolled Brown Sugar Cookies are wonderful, as they can be shaped into anything and decorated however you want. What's better than cookie dough the kids can play with and even eat without worrying about contamination from allergens and raw eggs? The Chocolate Chunk Blondie Bars turned out perfectly and are incredibly "buttery" with a slightly flaky texture. The Vanilla Cupcakes are so versatile. They have a lovely soft texture and can be pared with any frosting. They also freeze well. Overall, I am most impressed with the texture of all of the baked goods. Anyone who has to avoid wheat flour knows that texture is one of the biggest challenges to mastering the art of wheat-free baking.

As with any cookbook, I didn't love all of the recipes equally. There are a few that we're not crazy about, like the Russian Rock Cookies because they were a bit strangely textured. I was also disappointed in the Banana Bread Pudding because it turned out too soggy. I'm almost certain I killed the yeast when making the cinnamon rolls, but the flavor was great and the kids didn't notice that they were a bit hard. I will be attempting that recipe again soon. Since we don't have to avoid soy, I have successfully used ingredients like soy milk, soy nut butter and soy-based yogurt in some of the recipes which call for rice milk, sun butter and soy/dairy free yogurt. Pascal swears by superfine brown rice flour, but I've been using the regular brown rice flour. Superfine is difficult to find in my area and is also quite a bit more expensive.

Overall, I highly recommend this handbook. I had the pleasure of meeting Cybele Pascal at the Food Allergy Expo in North Wales this past fall and she is a lovely lady. Her web site, cybelepascal.com, also offers allergen-free recipes, which I am gradually adding to my collection. I hope you enjoy this book as much we do!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My GO-TO cookbook for GF/Vegan baking, June 6, 2011
This review is from: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook (Paperback)
Cybele Pascal, this is a hit!

After years of working to accomodate our family allergies(Gluten, Egg, Dairy) I have finally found a baking cookbook that has reliable, tried and true recipes. And the bonus is they all taste great! I have found the recipes easy to make, and even incorporate substitutions. We regularly make the Banana Flax muffins, but due to a flax allergy I add quinoa flakes instead. I once ran out of the flour blend and used Bob's GF flour instead with perfect results. And instead of raisins we like mini chocolate chips or blueberries in these. Divine, and they freeze superbly for sending in a preschoolers snack pack.

Blueberry Boy Bait is our playgroup favorite. It is light, delicious and always gone before the last child leaves. To this I add a little cinnamon to the batter. MMMMMMM!

Just made the cinnamon rolls on our last trip to the beach. What a treat to sit in our cottage watching the waves eating warm homemade cinnamon rolls. No substitutions, these are perfect.

I have made the red velvet cake for a holiday party. It was fabulous, and gone. I also used the red velvet cake and frosting to make whoopie pies(put a little batter in the bottom of a muffin tin, voila!) like the minis at Starbucks.

Seriously, I don't even announce that the items we bring to regular events to share are allergy free. They are soooo good, they don't need the label. And we always leave with an empty plate and full happy tummies :) We have made so many more from this book, and enjoyed them ALL!

I found this book much much better than Babycakes. I was always having to tweak something with Babycakes;baking time, amount of flour, etc. It was overly frustrating. I know with Cybele Pascal's recipes I can tweak something if I want to, but the recipes work as they are. I love that this book is already covered with batters spills, flour and filled with recipes I can count on.
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The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook
The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal (Paperback - December 22, 2009)
$25.00 $16.99
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