129 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2007
This book is perfect for people who have either just transitioned to veganism or would like to in that it is chock full of recipes that result in food that doesn't taste radically different from what the average meat-eater is accustomed to. The photos are gorgeous, the writing is great and no matter how much you think you know about baking, I promise you'll learn something.
This is not a "health food" book, although the recipes are cholesterol-free, lactose-free and healthier than the average non-vegan recipes. Instead, it's a book that helps you understand how easy it is to bake without eggs and dairy.
My favorite part of the book is the section on milk, butter and egg substitutes, some of which do indeed make the recipes healthier (e.g., using ground flax seed and water rather than egg replacer, using almond milk rather than soy milk for those of us trying to minimize our intake of soy, or using date sugar rather than white sugar). There are loads of tips and "Food Lore," which are interesting trivia tidbits that provide a historical context for the food. Perhaps most helpful, however, are the "Troubleshooting" pages that list the most common problems and their likely origins. Finally, the Appendices will save you a lot of time because the author has already organized your pantry and utensils for you and tells you exactly what you will need (/need to buy), and she includes a glossary, lists of what to substitute if you don't have the pan that's called for, and most fascinating to me, a section on the difference between baking soda and baking powder (I always wondered about that).
I've made the corn bread, the pancakes, a couple of smoothies, almond milk and the chocolate mousse because I had the ingredients lying around, and I look forward to trying my hand at chocolate chip scones this week. Then off to the serious holiday stuff so I can bring something yummy to every party I attend--so that I have something to eat (and share) at every party I attend.
112 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I recently began listening to the author's podcast, which is how I heard about this book. It's really a gorgeous cookbook with many color photos and a terrific layout. I know there are people that criticize cookbooks with lots of photos as fluff, but trust me, this is one of the most comprehensive cookbooks I own. As others have said, there is a *ton* of information on vegan baking, as well as tips scattered throughout the book. The vast majority of ingredients are common and familiar. I am a new vegetarian and there was only one ingredient that was new to me. I was most impressed with the variety of desserts included. Another reviewer already listed the categories so I won't repeat them, but the list is really extensive. I just received the book yesterday so I'll have to amend this review once I've had a chance to do some baking (the lemon bars are at the top of my list), but I'm already hoping the author will create future cookbooks for all types of dishes!!
Update: I promised an update once I had tried some recipes--yum! I've made the chocolate chip cookies, the lemon bars, the apple pie with the flaky pie crust, the pumpkin pie with the pecan crust, the light lemon bundt cake, the blueberry orange bundt cake, the lemon cheesecake, and...my favorite...the German apple cake. From the ingredients, the cake doesn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary, but it certainly is. I couldn't get enough. The chocolate cake (with her chocolate frosting) was the best I've had--moist, "chocolatey", light and fluffy.
In response to the comment on my original post, I wanted to add that while the quality of the recipes are obviously an important part of any cookbook, other characteristics are important too. Is it easy to read? Do the recipes use easy-to-find ingredients? Is the layout attractive? Am I, as the reader, given "bonus" information above and beyond the recipes? The answer to all of these for the Joy of Vegan Baking is yes!!
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2008
I am admittedly not vegan, although I admire the lifestyle choice. I discovered the world of vegan desserts because my children have several food allergies. I couldn't stand the thought of them not enjoying baked goods, particularly since I have always enjoyed baking. That said, I must admit that a lot of non-dairy, non-egg attempts at baking some classic desserts were awful, yielding what I thought was worthy of nothing but the trash can. This cookbook has changed that and opened my eyes to the possibilities of vegan baking. I even like some of the vegan versions better than the dairy laden versions. I am so surprised at the negative reviews about the lack of healthy ingredients - these are desserts people!! The best desserts usually rely on rich ingredients and it is already a vast improvement that there are no eggs or milk. If you want healthy sweets go for a granola bar or a bowl of fruit. The occasional dessert treat should be just that and it should be decadent enough to make it worth eating. It seems unfair to give a negative review based on a criteria that the author is not aspiring to. Great job Colleen!!
374 of 429 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was excited when this book came out as there are so few vegan baking books out there. The photos are impressive, but unfortunately, the recipes are a disappointment. The author seems to have taken standard recipes and switched out the eggs and butter for Ener-G egg replacer and vegan margarine (which she calls vegan butter - isn't this an oxymoron?). There is absolutely nothing creative here! There are no recipes that utilize any of the alternative whole grain flours or unrefined sweeteners out there or different oils, such as coconut, palm ,walnut, safflower,etc.
My vegan friends, you can make a delicious pie crust with walnut oil, whole wheat pastry flour and water...and the ingredients don't have to be COLD. You can make fabulous scones with agave nectar and no egg replacer. Please go beyond these tired recipes and BE CREATIVE! Purchase this book if you love all-purpose white flour, Earth Balance spread and Ener-G egg replacer in everything you make.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2007
Got it, love it, you've got to get this! If you want to add nutrition to your baked goods or if you support living compassionately towards animals, this cookbook provides easy to make recipes that will blow you away! Colleen includes traditional goodies- pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies, etc. as well as some not so traditional recipes that definitely make this cookbook stand out from the rest. The raspberry jam oatmeal bars are a favorite!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2007
Ok, let me start with the good stuff:
-Great recipe selection
-Easy-to-use layout and awesome indexes
-Wonderful tips and conversational text
-Well-constructed book with beautiful photos
However... the author uses WAY too much sugar. I have reduced - usually by around half - the amount of sugar in almost every recipe I've tried, and I can't imagine how sickly sweet the results would be if I didn't. This is coming from a girl who loves her desserts, too.
This is not a cookbook for someone looking for whole-grain dessert recipes or low-fat items (she uses 2 sticks of "butter" for 12 chocolate chip cookies), but she's very up-front that these are not concerns of hers when it comes to baking. They are, however, concerns of mine, so with her recipes I generally cut out some of the fat, reduce the sugar, and replace at least half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. But with these changes... damn delicious.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book almost as soon as it hit the shelves last fall. At the time, I didn't know anything about Colleen, her activism, her podcast, her website, etc. I just saw it at the bookstore & thought it was beautiful. The layout is so convenient, the pictures are gorgeous, and the instructions are easy-to-follow. I have been using this book quite often ever since buying it 6 months ago.
I have never made a recipe from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" that didn't turn out perfectly. A few of my favorites are: Butterscotch Pudding, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Date & Almond Butter Smoothie, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Focaccia (best bread I've ever had!), Soft Pretzels, Hot Chocolate, and the Light Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Sauce (I take the liberty of adding blueberries to this one). I always get rave reviews--all from my omnivore friends & family!
One feature that I really like in this book are the "Food Lore" snippets placed on some recipe pages. Here, Colleen explains the history of the dish, or shares an interesting factoid about it. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the recipes included in the book aren't ALL baked goods; smoothies, teas, puddings, and others are also present. Additionally--and this might be my favorite part, besides the actual recipes themselves--the Index is the most comprehensive & convenient I've ever seen! There are THREE indices: one general, one by season, and one by holiday/occasion. Even in the general index, the recipes are sorted by name, type, and ingredient... So if you have cinnamon (for instance) & want to see what you can make, see "Cinnamon" in the index & all recipes that use this as a primary (or secondary) ingredient will be listed. Same goes for peanut butter, chocolate, pumpkin, nutmeg, etc. It's fantastic!
I love that this book seems to be made with EVERYONE in mind: meat- and dairy-eaters, as well as the veg crowd. Some vegan cookbooks have recipes that I personally find delicious, but I can willingly admit that they are a little too "crunchy granola" or "earthy tasting" for most to whole-heartedly enjoy. Not so in this book!
Also worth noting... Some people think "vegan" = "health food," and that misconception has led to some negative reviews for this book. Just by virtue of these recipes being egg- & dairy-free, they're a bit healthier than other [non-veg] desserts. But vegans know how to indulge, too! :) For the most part (there are a few exceptions), the recipes in this book are not lowfat, whole grain, or low-calorie. But they're perfect for special occasions, or for sharing desserts with those picky (or skeptical) eaters in your life. The dishes are so comforting & familiar, and don't taste like the "vegan version" of an old favorite; they taste just like the egg- and dairy-laden versions, only better & cruelty-free! They're by no means "diet food," but traditional desserts aren't meant to be! And if you don't like using white sugar & flour (like me), replace some of it with the healthier alternative of your choosing... The recipes are flexible enough to lend themselves to some tweaking!
I also want to say that if you like this book, you'll love the author's podcast. "Vegetarian Food for Thought" is smart, insightful, supportive and SO INSPIRING! I want to tell everyone I know about it because it's THAT amazing.
I highly, highly recommend this book--for beginning cooks, advanced chefs, and everyone in-between!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this cookbook because I am a devoted baker who wants to make only vegan food. I was looking for creative ideas and recipes to help me do that.
There were a couple of good things about this cookbook. First, it is beautiful. The pictures are so delicious looking and the whole thing is put together in a way that is very visually appealing. Second, the author includes some interesting information on ingredients, substitutions, etc. [This is why I gave the book 2 stars instead of 1].
The recipes ARE unhealthy for the most part, but I did not have a problem with that - I bought a vegan dessert book, not a health food book. I think criticising this book because it isn't something it never claimed to be [healthy] is unfair.
But that aside, there was a lot that wasn't great about this book.
You don't need to buy this book to do what she's telling you to do - you can get the same results by heeding this advice: take all of your regular recipes, substitute Ener-G egg replacer for the eggs, sub Earth Balance margarine for the butter, and sub non-dairy milk for the milk. That's it. That's all she does through the whole book. Pretty much anyone can figure out how to do that on their own without having to pay for this book.
As some other reviewers mentioned, quite a few of these recipes are taken from other cookbooks, and I found that a bit frustrating too - I want new recipes when I buy a new cookbook.
She is also very preachy in the book. It annoyed me because, you know - I'm already on her side. I am already "converted" to veganism [for both animal rights reasons and health reasons]. To have to read through a lot of ranty preaching about it got on my nerves - and it came across as very condescending. I don't think the author wrote appropriately for who her audience was likely to be. [People who aren't already vegan or seriously considering veganism aren't very likely to buy this book...]
The recipes in this book aren't great either. So far, none of the ones I've tried turned out awesome. The flavor has been pretty good, but the textures have been really off. All of them have been edible, but I wouldn't make any of them a second time. I think I will be able to do better on my own converting tried and true recipes that I already have to vegan recipes.
I bought this book based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews. I was puzzled by how it got so many great reviews after I bought it and tried it. In reading some of the comments to the negative reviews, I'm starting to think that this author has something of a cult following because of her shows. I think those folks have been reviewing the book [perhaps less than honestly] because of their love for her. I'm sure she's awesome and I support her work very much - but this still isn't a great cookbook. I'm just saying...
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2008
This is the best BAKING book I've ever seen, much less Vegan baking. Colleen has so many wonderful helpful tips for each recipe to make sure that they turn out the best possible. After taking a cooking class from her while in San Francisco, we couldn't WAIT for her cookbook to come out and now eagerly await her next cookbook. We tried to buy it right away but they were SOLD OUT instantly and we had to wait for the next order.
Colleen is an inspiration and a wonderful creative cook. I have made over 20 recipes from this book already and every one has turned out perfect and had rave reviews.
I used it for all of my holiday baking for non-vegan family and everyone loved it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2008
This is one of my very favorite cookbooks and perhaps the most consistently used. Every recipe I've tried is simple and delicious and a big hit at home and the office. I've taken a number of vegan treats to share with non-vegans and they've all been a huge hit and a pleasant surprise to those who thought vegans were only allowed to eat grass and hay. ;-)
The recipes are easy to follow and most of the ingredients can be found at your neighborhood grocery store. The book is also filled with nutritional information and gorgeous photographs that inspire you to get out the cookie sheet, muffin tins, or springform and get baking!