After receiving a medical diagnosis insisting that all gluten be eliminated from her diet, Jillayne Clements, author of “The Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking: Delicious Whole Food Recipes,” writes, “I’ll make my own gluten-free, whole food recipes, and then I’ll put them in another cookbook. After all, there is a virtual hole in the market for whole and gluten-free food, even more so for properly prepared (soaked or soured) whole and GF food, and I bet I can make these whole food recipes for less money than the premade goods at the store.”
And she’s right. Clements’ new cookbook, The Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking: Delicious Whole Food Recipes fulfills the promise she makes.
The author starts by telling her readers what this book is not: “A book filled with your typical white rice, potato starch, and high-glycemic trying-to-pass-off-cardboard-as-actual-food cookbook.” You will find this book helpful if you are trying to nourish your body through whole and mostly properly prepared whole grains, including brown rice, certified GF oats, teff, cooked beans, and flax.
The author gives an easy-to-read explanation of her passion about whole foods and her techniques of souring GF grains, as well as sprouting and dehydrating rice and then grinding it into flour. In the introductory section, she offers a useful glossary of the ingredients she uses in her baking and gives a colorful description of each of their characteristics. (She thinks that amaranth flour tastes like dirt!) On page 28, she tells readers how to sprout most nuts, grains, and beans. Once you’ve successfully managed to grow “tails” on your grains of rice, she leads readers through dehydrating and grinding sprouted grain into flour using a grain mill.
Labor-Intensive, Full of Flavor
This process of sprouting and creating your own flour takes a minimum of three days. Because I don’t have a grain mill, I looked for recipes that didn’t involve sprouted flour and there are quite a few. I made a batch of English Muffins by starting the process the night before. You need to stir together the flours and water and let them sit for 12 hours. The next morning, I had the muffins ready to enjoy for a late breakfast and they were quite tasty!
I also attempted a batch of French Bread. It, too, required mixing the flours with the water and letting them sit overnight under a damp cloth. Perhaps the author used a golden flax seed meal in contrast to my dark flax seed, but my results looked nothing like the bread pictured in the book. Mine ended up as bread crumbs since the bread just wouldn’t hold together when sliced. Perhaps our high Colorado altitude affected the dough’s ability to rise well (usually our 9,000 feet makes things rise easily). This loaf did not rise much at all and therefore was too dense.
Next on my to-do list will be the Graham Crackers on page 118. Made with oat flour and teff flour with just a hint of molasses and dehydrated cane sugar, they look quite good.
In addition to her comprehensive glossary and introduction, Clement offers sections on:
-Non-Yeast Breads and Wraps
-Pancakes and Cereals
-Sweet Breads and Muffins
-Cakes and Desserts
-Crusts and Things
-Bonus Recipes (which contains a variety of her favorite recipes ranging from soups to salad dressings).
One of my favorite sections in the entire book is entitled “Bloopers,” each accompanied by a photo. Blooper #2 illustrates what happens when cream puffs cool too fast. It warmed my heart and made me feel bonded with Clement as a fellow struggling gluten-free chef.
Color photographs illustrate each recipe in the baking section and they provide a helpful reference. The book is designed to look worn with smudges on the pages and dark, kitchen grime marks on the edge of each page. I wonder what my copy will look like in five years after having seen frequent use.
Real Bottom Line: Jillayne Clements The Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking: Delicious Whole Food Recipes offers authoritative advice, recipes, and information for people who feel passionately about using whole foods in the quest for healthier gluten-free eating. For these readers, this new gluten-free cookbook is an excellent one to have on your shelf. However, if you’re just beginning to conquer gluten-free baking, I would not start with this book. Intimidation might kill your motivation. – Lisa George, RFT Contributor and Chef at Latigo Ranch, Colorado
Check out Jillayne’s recipe for tasty, gluten-free corn tortillas.