A few weeks ago I received a copy of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes by Kelli and Peter Bronski from the nice people over at The Experiment. (The Experiment, by the way, is the publisher of two very lovely ladies' vegan cookbooks--Carla Kelly and Alicia Simpson. Please take a gander and consider ordering a copy of one of their books!) I haven't had a chance to make much from the book, but am honored to be able to offer up a review of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes for all of you. It's a very well-put together book on baking the perfect individual servings of cake, and I think anyone staying away from gluten can benefit from adding this to their shelf of baking books.
I'm finding that, in picking my favorite cookbooks, the layout and actual writing is incredibly important to me. I used to be content with just reading the recipes; now I am just as interested in the stories behind the recipes, as well as in the techniques used to create the food. I judge a book by its introduction and appendices (if applicable), and then by the recipes themselves. Dear readers, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes is a gem. The Bronskis do a wonderful job of including tons of informative writing regarding their techniques, ratios, and ingredients. In fact, for all you visual learners, most of the technique writing is accompanied by photographs. I dig it. Also, though I am a relatively accomplished baker, I am not a pastry chef and had no clue there are at least three types of buttercream (American, Italian, and Swiss). The introduction to this book is a veritable encyclopedia of cupcake baking.
Of course, as much as I'm a sucker for good intros and writing in general, the recipes have to be enticing for me to be willing to purchase a cookbook. The recipes have to include the unexpected. I'm not going to buy a cookbook that has simply recipes for the usual cakes. Be forewarned--Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes might make you drool onto the pages as you read. It's got everything from the classic (red velvet and German chocolate) to the supremely decadent (cannoli and dulce de leche) to the downright innovative (French toast made with leftover gluten-free pancakes). I challenge you to find a recipe that doesn't sound good. I double dare you to tell me the pictures don't give you a thumping sensation in your heart.
Of course, cupcakes aren't for everyone. Some people can't handle refined sugars; some are sensitive to dairy or egg; some are vegan and shy away from the animal products in these cakes. I am telling you--do not worry. Bake in metric? Got you covered. I said don't worry, right? Right. In the back of the book, the Bronskis have very conscientiously included an appendix of substitutions and metric conversions for you. You don't even have to think about what to substitute! They've given examples of the different types of cakes in the book, including the ratios, and have broken down what exactly to do if you want to remove the refined cane sugar and substitute agave. Or brown rice syrup, which is slightly different. Need to get rid of eggs? There's an option for that, too. They've even got the frostings covered.
Even though we're grain-free here now, I feel comfortable giving this book high marks. Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes is a winner for anyone who bakes even occasionally without gluten. The sheer volume of information in this book is worth the purchase, even though the recipes are what will really hook you. I'm keeping this one on hand for those special occasions that call for birthday cakes, and for inspiration as I bake with alternative flours.
Please note that I did receive a complimentary copy of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes with a request for a review, but was otherwise uncompensated. As always, all of my opinions are completely candid, and I would not have given a good review if it were not warranted.