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Customer Review

373 of 386 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book could have been so much better...., May 13, 2009
This review is from: BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery (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? small jar and big $$), but does not specify if it matters if we use virgin coconut or regular coco oil or light or dark agave. Since I don't want to go broke buying coconut oil, I googled and found an extra-virgin organic coconut oil by Nutiva that comes in 54 oz. containers and is reasonably priced. The same goes for the agave nectar. Madhava has a raw organic agave nectar that you can find right here on Amazon in bulk for a decent price. Hopefully these will so the trick.

4) Frosting. I do not believe these are the frostings used at the bakery. For example, a red flag to me is that the cookbook recipe for vanilla frosting is called 'Vanilla Frosting/Vanilla Sauce" but the Babycakes bakery frosting is called "Creamy Vanilla Frosting". While on Martha Stewart (the episode where they made the Allergen-Free Cinnamon Toastie loaf), Erin casually mentions some of the ingredients of her famous frosting. Among the ingredients is coconut milk. Unfortunately, there is zero coco milk in the book recipe, but there is liquid and dry soy milk. Babycakes NYC is a soy-free bakery. This is so disappointing to me, as I was really looking forward to making the real deal.

While I enjoy the aesthetic and the creativity of the book, I think it fell short in a number of critical areas.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 13, 2009, 7:03:35 PM PDT
Maybe understand that, especially with the frosting, these recipes are made to be simpler and quicker. If you actually watched Erin make her real frosting on the Martha Stewart show you would've seen how complex, detailed, and time consuming it was. And if you're just complaining about the cost of the coconut oil and agave nectar you would have had to use a lot more for the real frosting. Also on the show, she said you could use dry soy milk in a pinch, mostly because it was easier to find.
Also if Bob's Red Mill All Purpose is so bothersome for you because of the taste, there are a number of websites that offer their versions of sweeter mixtures of GF flours. These mixtures can also be substituted in the spelt recipes. I know-- I've done it.
Please do your research before you complain about a book like this. This book is actually an amazing feat for people who have Celiac's disease or have a serious gluten intolerance.

In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2009, 8:46:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 13, 2009, 9:04:03 PM PDT
N. Burns says:
I disagree. Babycakes *the bakery* is an amazing feat for those with celiac disease. I was hoping Babycakes *the book* would be the same thing. That's why I bought it. My daughter has CD and my husband and several in-laws are intolerant. This book is not the same. Perhaps I am not the one who needs to do research...

Really, how much "simpler and quicker" is it to measure out a couple more flours/starches than to measure out one special blend? What if someone is allergic to bean flour? or potato flour? My point is that I would like to know what recipes the Babycakes bakery uses (as I was led to believe were in the book) and make my own adjustments accordingly. How is researching alternate mixes on the internet as you suggest "simpler and quicker"?

I did watch Erin make the cookbook version of her frosting on Martha when they made the chocolate chip cookie sandwiches. It did not seem complicated or time consuming at all. If there is Martha footage of Erin making the bakery frosting, as you said you saw, please let all of us know where on Martha/You Tube/wherever we can find it, because I would like to see it and make it, too. And, yes, I do chafe at the idea of spending a pretty penny on costly ingredients when the recipe is not for the same yummy formula as what I could get at the bakery.

Posted on Oct 3, 2009, 5:22:02 PM PDT
Hotfive says:
If part of the subtitle of the book reads "mostly gluten-free," and--as you say--two thirds of the recipes are indeed gluten-free, then I see no reason why you should feel misled. Two thirds = more than half = "most of it".

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2009, 8:20:39 AM PST
J and H says:
A better cookbook is "Food For All 100 plus Allergen Sensitive Recipes" By Michelle Hill. Check out allergenfreecooking.com and also her blogspot at http://allergenfreecooking.blogspot.com. These are truly Gluten free!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2009, 8:21:31 AM PST
J and H says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Nov 30, 2009, 10:01:35 AM PST
L. Stafford says:
I agree with your review. I am a baker as well and love BabyCakes NYC but the cookbook is very misleading. I feel the recipes in the book are not the actual
reciepes used in the bakery but more of adaptations. Some things I tried came out pretty good other things like the frosting "sauce" and some the loaves came out awful! I mean throw away stuff, it was really dispappointing! I own a gluten-free bakery and do use Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour and actually love the stuff! I use it to make cookies, cupcakes and have had great results with it. I would not purchase this cookbook knowing what I know now or waste any time or money in the kitchen!

Posted on Apr 18, 2010, 7:37:43 AM PDT
Natural Mama says:
I agree, these cant be the real recipes, especially the frosting. You can find proof of this just by going to the BabyCakes website and going to Menu > Nutritional Information. Check out the ingredients. completely different than the book! In fact here are the frosting ingredients:

FROSTING: rice starch , sunflower oil, corn starch, cold pressed coconut oil, rice milk, coconut milk, potato starch, coconut flour, lemon extract, calcium carbonate (vegan) , sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, monoglycerides (an emulsifier), inulin, vitamins c, e, b6, a, folic acid, and vitamin b12

I also bought the book to get the real recipes and I am pretty upset about the swap outs. If the items are too difficult to make from home then I think they should have skipped the book altogether.

Posted on Apr 18, 2010, 7:37:44 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 18, 2010, 7:42:19 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2010, 2:15:51 PM PDT
The first edition title did not have the (mostly) notation before Gluten Free. When she bought the book, that was a big issue.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2010, 12:49:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2010, 12:51:33 PM PDT
Terrier Girl says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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