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BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery Hardcover – May 5, 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Diagnosed with wheat and dairy allergies in 2004, McKenna faced a life free of cupcakes, pies and brownies. Refusing to accept such a bleak future, McKenna did her research and opened Babycakes, a vegan, gluten-free bakery that has since been warmly embraced by cupcake-crazy Manhattanites. Here she shows readers how to create vegan and gluten-free versions of favorites like apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread and Babycakes's infamous cupcakes (named best in the city by New York magazine in 2006). Her like-for-like recipes (including Healthy Hostess cupcakes and ingenious methods for dying frostings without artificial food coloring) are sure to satisfy discerning palates, and her emphasis on the traditional (blondies, biscuits, red velvet cupcakes, etc.) make her recipes easy to incorporate into the regular rotation. A number of specialty ingredients are required (agave nectar, xanthan gum, coconut oil, etc.), which can be pricey but are fairly easy to source (online vendors are listed).; Happily, however, McKenna keeps the ingredient list to a minimum. Those new to gluten- and sugar-free baking may be intimidated, but McKenna is friendly, patient, enthusiastic and encouraging. Those with dietary restrictions, and their families, will find this cookbook a sweet revelation.
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"In this book, Erin has finally shared her trade secrets — the ingredients and techniques that lend BabyCakes' desserts the flavors, textures, and happiness-factor you'd find in the best patisserie. The highest praise I can offer is this: follow her recipes to the letter and you'll fool them every time."
—Tom Colicchio (from the Foreword)

"At BabyCakes NYC I can eat what I crave without harming my lovely animal friends–or myself. Every since that first fateful day, I’ve been waiting for this cookbook."
—Natalie Portman

"I have multiple food sensitivities…and I’d pretty much given up on the idea that I might be able to have a worthy treat every again. I was so excited to discover BabyCakes NYC, because not only can I eat everything they bake, it’s all delicious!"
—Zooey Deschanel

"The BabyCakes NYC banana bread is the best I've ever had and something I simply can't live without."
—Mary Louise Parker

"Thank all that is holy for BabyCakes NYC…"
—Pamela Anderson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307408833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307408839
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,948 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
I was *so* excited when I learned that a Babycakes cookbook was in the works. When it arrived, I sat down and excitedly read it cover to cover with a pen and paper in hand to make my baking grocery list. It was then that I came across upon several issues:

1) As mentioned by many others, the book is only about 2/3 gluten-free. I know that Babycakes bakery bakes spelt items, so this was not a surprise to me. However, the book sub-title calling it Gluten-Free is misleading.

2) A large amount of the recipes call for Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour. There are two problems with this. First and most important to me, this flour is N A S T Y. It has garbanzo and fava bean flour in it, and those have a very strong and bitter taste. Many bakers, including myself, hate this stuff. Second, I was dissapointed to see that the book even suggests using a mix at all. On the Martha Stewart show when Erin and Martha make the Allergen-Free Cinnamon Toasties, Martha asks as she is stirring the flours together, 'Do you use mixes at your bakery?' Erin answers no. If this is the case, then why on earth is the cookbook directing me to do so? If the recipes had the true list of flours and starches used at the bakery, I would have an easier time making substitutions, like swapping garfava flour for, say, a combo of sorghum or rice flour, or subbing potato starch for arrowroot or cornstarch.

3) Coconut oil and agave nectar. These fabulous, spendy, and sometimes elusive ingredients are frequently used in hefty quantities in the book, and unfortunately we are left a somewhat in the dark about the details. Yes, the resources give us brand recommendations (aside: Did you look into the coconut oil source?
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Format: Hardcover
I commented on an earlier review below, which pointed out that all the recipes in this cookbook are actually NOT gluten free, as the title implies, because they use spelt flour. I knew spelt products were offered at the bakery, but assumed the cookbook would contain both gluten free and spelt versions of each.

I have celiac disease and wanted to be able to quickly identify which recipes I can't use, so I highlighted them (both the flour ingredients on the recipe pages, and the page numbers on the chapter header pages) - spelt recipes pink, gluten free recipes yellow.

Some sort of notation like this in the second edition would be helpful. As well as some information on how to substitute for the spelt flour in any of these recipes, if that's even possible (personally, I don't think I'll bother trying). And if it isn't possible, at least a sentence saying so. And of course adding a "Mostly" in front of "Gluten Free" in the book title, or some sort of subtitle/disclaimer indicating that all the recipes are NOT gluten free.

In any case, I decided to buy the book despite the spelt recipes and all the Bob's mix and garbanzo fava flour, which I've never been a big fan of. I know it will be a good resource for special occasions when I have the time and money to make some of these baked goods. This is also just a really lovely cookbook, I so appreciate that it contains photos of most of the recipes! And I can't help but like this girl for opening the bakery in the first place, and then sharing her gluten free recipes.

I thought I'd make a list of the specific gluten and not gluten free recipes in the book, for those who aren't able to look through the cookbook at a bookstore before buying it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I feel slightly torn about this book. I had pre-ordered it because I have Celiac and have loved every gluten-free thing I have tried at the Babycakes NYC Bakery. Most recipes for gluten free baked goods contain high amounts of sugar, or require mixing your own flours or are all kind of generic and blah. This book promised to be free of those things without compromising taste. However, I've found there's good and bad to being a different cook book.

The Good:
It's beautiful; the photography is stunning, the products look amazing, it gets you in the mood to bake and have fun with it. I love the personality in it, I love the colour and food shots. It's so nice to have it feel part photo-book and part-recipe instead of the standard recipe books. And the size is nice whether you're cooking or curled up the couch reading up on it.

The recipes are laid out really well; most are just a page which is nice for those of us who don't like long directions and 17 steps. The write-ups about the items and little stories are fun. The celebrity-endorsements are kind of weird (except the "fat pants" - that's pretty awesome).

There are lots of different kinds of baked goods to make from cakes to cookies. Recipes I hadn't seen before that look incredibly delicious. No more boring cupcakes and cookies for me! The Myer Lemon and Cherry Cupcakes is on my baking list for sure.

The not so good:

As a few people have already said, none of Chapter 2 (scones) are gluten free and there's a couple more elsewhere that call for spelt flour. Although Erin makes a comment about spelt in the beginning of the book and how it's not gluten free, it seems odd to have as a tag line on the FRONT of the book "gluten free" - especially since it says "mostly sugar free.
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