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BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles Hardcover – April 12, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Pillsbury The Big Book of More Baking with Refrigerated Dough (Betty Crocker Big Book) by Pillsbury Editors
Big Baking Books
A clever, must-have collection of 160 recipes that highlight the ease, creativity, and show-stopping results home bakers can achieve with prepared dough. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For those with food sensitivities, these desserts have remained a distant dream—until now.

Following her widely adored debut cookbook with this delectable and extensive new collection, Erin McKenna, celebrated baker and proprietress of BabyCakes NYC in New York and Los Angeles, satisfies all your food fantasies with fifty recipes for perennial favorites—all created without gluten, dairy, eggs, or refined sugar.

In addition to its important primer on key ingredients and easy substitutions, BabyCakes Covers the Classics includes a section filled with Erin’s insightful solutions to frequently asked questions, which will lead you to newfound baking glory. As for the goods themselves, prepare for untold hours of refreshingly simple and undeniably delicious recipes adapted from the ones that sprinkled our collective childhoods. They include:

Thin Mints
Chocolate Chip Waffles
Square-Pan Tomato Pizza
Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Preserves
Banana Royale 
Five variations of BabyCakes NYC’s famous donuts
& many more . . .

BabyCakes Covers the Classics
is filled with timeless sweet and savory temptations that vegans, celiacs, and the health-minded can safely indulge in. Erin shows people of all stripes how to take control of a vegan, gluten-free pantry, and she proves that once you do, there are no limitations to what you can bake.

Featured Recipe: Thin Mints

Thin Mints
Makes: 30


  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup melted refined coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan gluten-free chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons mint extract

I’m Catholic by birth. Winter to us means Lent, which, to be honest, is about all I remember beyond the school uniforms. Anytime winter/Lent rolled around, the only thing we could count on was the house-wide hostility that would mount as we spent several weeks avoiding sweets and desserts in all their overindulgent forms. The colder months, you might recall, make up Girl Scout cookie season. In a unique show of torture, rather than simply not placing an order with the Scouts, our family bought a bunch, tossed them into the freezer, and stored them until Easter--about two months later. This recipe is for all you lifetime gluten-free folks who have never been able to enjoy a winter of Girl Scout Thin Mints--and for all you weak-willed kids who can’t help but break the Lenten period of atonement. Bless your hearts!

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix with a rubber spatula until a thick dough forms.

3. Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and mint extract in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the chips are just melted. Do not overcook. Remove from the heat. Dunk the top of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place in a single layer on a platter. Refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes, or until the chocolate sets.


"I first heard about the elusive BabyCakes "Mounds" bars on a stick from a friend who said they were incredible. One day, I tasted them... Like heaven... I bought them for my crew at work on Bones and people came back for seconds and thirds…I even had them at my wedding. Now you don’t have to wait to try them; you can make your own!"
--Emily Deschanel, actress
"Vegan or not, gluten-free or not, Erin McKenna’s donuts are the best I’ve had in 20 years, without exception."
--Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything and The Food Matters Cookbook

"I am on a constant mission to find the best homemade, baked treats and desserts. BabyCakes’s chocolate chip cookies are not only made with really great ingredients, but they taste better than any other chocolate chip cookie in the world.  Don't feel guilty about having one, or two, or three...This book teaches you how to make them--and many other sweets!"
--Tracy Anderson, creator of Tracy Anderson Method

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 37325th edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307718303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307718303
  • ASIN: 0307718301
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erin McKenna, founder of BabyCakes NYC, brings something fresh to the countertop at her lower east side bakery, which has been hailed a safe haven for those burdened by food allergies.

McKenna eliminated wheat, dairy and refined sugar from her diet five years ago and began her desperate search down the Whole Foods' aisles for baked goods she could safely enjoy; it was futile. Driven to satisfy her insatiable sweet tooth, McKenna set out on a culinary journey and experimented with alternative ingredients such as agave nectar and cold-pressed coconut oil to create a new kind of baked good. Four months of trial and error later, McKenna had developed allergy-friendly recipes that were actually sweet, moist and incredibly good. BabyCakes NYC was born, soon thereafter, and McKenna was a full-time baker.

A Chula Vista, California native, McKenna attended St Mary's College in Moraga and majored in Communications. Growing up, she never thought twice as to where her favorite Entenmanns's products came from; baking couldn't have been further off her radar. In fact, only moments prior to picking up the spatula, she was shopping, steaming and returning clothes as a fashion assistant in the world's fashion Mecca, New York City. She, however, refocused her attention and applied her stylist sensibilities to constructing innovative pastries absent of refined sugar, wheat, dairy, soy, casein, eggs and gluten. With McKenna's attention to detail, refined tastes and fashionable flare, she created pastries that are pleasing to the eye as well as the most discerning palate.

Erin approaches her customer's safety with the same fastidiousness. She goes to great lengths to prevent cross-contamination and keeps everyone who sets foot in her bakery well informed.

In May of 2009, the much-anticipated Babycakes cookbook hit the shelves. In the book, Erin shares the secrets of her vegan, (mostly) gluten-free, and (mostly) sugar-free recipes to eager food enthusiasts and hobby bakers alike.

McKenna currently resides in Manhattan, where she is constantly whipping up new allergy friendly recipes. Always looking for a new challenge, she has set her sights westward and plans to open her successful bakery in Los Angeles in late 2009.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ok, first of all, I agree to a small extent with some of the harsher reviews that this is not a perfect cookbook. HOWEVER, it's a very unique cookbook with very unique ingredients that most people aren't use to baking with. I think most of the negative reviews are much too harsh and come on, peops, at least give one of the recipes a trying before posting such negative reviews. I was disappointed to see the lack of hands on experience a lot of the negative reviewers had before posting such a review.

To address some of the negativos out there, I have to wonder what some of you guys are doing wrong. I have the first cookbook and have made over half of the recipes in it with only one recipe coming out badly (the vanilla frosting...my chocolate frosting came out fine). And I do agree that Erin should have included a much better recipe that more closely matched her retail products. Not cool.

Some of the recipes are really good and others just ok, but all in all, I think it's a very good cookbook. Now on to the second cookbook...I've only made a few of those recipes so far, probably 4-5 of them, but have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever so far. I've made the plain donuts twice now because they are SOOOO good (once with the coconut oil and once I subbed canola and the result was identical...could not tell a difference). And I'm not gluten intolerant...I just like them.

Here are some tips I've found when cooking with Babycakes...none are rocket science, but again, I haven't had major issues with either cookbook :

1) Use the important products she says and be careful when substituting. The biggest difference I have seen this make is in using the coconut oil Erin recommends for the frosting versus using another brand (even a good brand).
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Format: Hardcover
While I am not gluten intolerant or vegan, I have enjoyed Babycakes treats--specifically the donuts--from the Babycakes bakery in downtown Los Angeles. I have been disappointed with the homemade products. The frosting from the recipe in the first cookbook does not have the same flavor--it is less flavorful, less sweet and tastes totally different as compared to the bakery product. I eagerly tried the donut recipe as soon as my book arrived last week and the homemade donuts are different as well. The bakery donuts are really delicious and the homemade version is quite tasteless with an entirely different texture. I followed the recipe precisely! It is disappointing as it is a waste of my time and a waste of money (the ingredients are on the pricey side) to try to recreate the delicious flavors and textures of the bakery purchased products. If one has never tried these goodies from the bakery, perhaps one would be satisfied with the homemade result, but these recipes do not even come close to the bakery products in flavor and texture!
I understand that many chefs do not give the exact recipe for their items in their cookbooks. I hope this is not the case in this instance--baking gluten free is too much of a science to to try to alter the real recipe and expect decent results.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like the donut recipe but it taste NOTHING like the bakery version. I'm disappointed. My donuts do not look like the light and fluffy donut illustrated in the book. I'm just not sure about the 1/4 cup of vanilla extract. I have never seen a recipe with that amount of vanilla extract before.
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Format: Hardcover
I mean, of course I liked the filled variety, like Boston or Bavarian Cream, but I never cared for the donut on its own. I know donuts are being hyped as the next big baking trend, but as a gluten-free vegan, I had no interest. Well, it took one drive through of this recipe- with the rice flour substitution, no less- to make me a believer. These are really cakey and really good. My family, most of whom already loves donuts, has nodded their approval between hungry bites.

I smiled when I saw the recipe for Madelines. I had previously perfected my own vegan Madeline recipe, but I hadn't figured out how to do it without wheat. The recipe here works perfectly. Color me delighted.

Perhaps what I like best about the book are substitutions McKenna offers. Her first book was heavy on bean flours and Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. The recipes are delicious, but unfortunately one of my children has a problem with garbanzo beans. McKenna gives a recipe for a bean-free substitute, and it works perfectly. (I went back to her first book and made the banana bread without bean flour. Success!) She also has a simple formula for substituting agave for sugar, which is something we try to minimize in our household. It's nice to know that 1) we're not alone and 2) someone else has already come up with a solution.

For those of you who miss childhood comfort foods, this book includes not only recipes for cakes, donuts and cookies (although you will find maybe one cupcake recipe in here) but also waffles and pancakes. Best of that category, according to my household, are the Honey and Wonder Buns. I made the Pain Au Chocolat variety and had to make sure my younger children didn't eat more than their share before my older children could get to the table.
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