Whether you’re gluten-free or gluten-loving, there’s nothing like freshly baked bread.  If you are gluten-free and have experimented in the kitchen, you know that some bread recipes fall, well, flat.  Poorly made gluten-free bread can be crumbly, wet, dense, or taste peculiar.  What’s a sandwich, scone, or pizza loving gal to do?

Enter, Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread.  If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve already heard me sing the praise of this cookbook author, Hunn.  With the addition of her latest release, I am impressed yet again, although with some reservations this time.  Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread offers an impressive collection of recipes, and is written with the passion and sass that we have come to expect from Hunn.  The standards are present, such as sandwich loaves, dinner rolls, and pizza crust, but Hunn goes above and beyond with exciting new favorites and more ambitious treats, such as glazed yeast-raised donuts, Olive Garden-style garlic butter breadsticks, pretzel rolls, even cream puffs.  We’ve tried a number of recipes in our home and have been delighted by all.  Her book begins with custom blends for all-purpose, bread, and pastry flours, which are easily assembled with precise instructions for measuring or weighing ingredients.  Each recipe’s directions are step-by-step and occasionally, you can reference her website for videos of tricky tasks such as rolling out gluten-free pie dough.  The breadth of types of breads in the book is truly impressive, many even with their own dough starters.  With your scale, flour-covered apron, and French rolling pin, you’ll feel like you’re creating something very special.  For a preview of the foods you’ve been dreaming of since becoming gluten free, check out a recent chocolate babka recipe she shared on her blog.  We’re not just making slices of bread here, we’re rediscovering foods we no longer thought possible!

Herb and olive oil Focaccia

Focaccia

Caveat.  Many of the recipes require the dough to be made in advance- with an up-to-24-hour rise in the fridge.  I don’t know about your lifestyle, but mine doesn’t always allow for that kind of planning.  Often we are a, “Crusty bread would go great with this dinner,” kind of family, but most recipes in the book don’t allow for that on-the-fly thinking.  Secondly, there are some specialty ingredients and tools that Hunn has never required before.  Unflavored whey protein isolate and expandex modified tapioca starch, found only online?  I understand why they are used- they help recreate a gluten-esque quality- but gluten-free flours are already expensive enough, and take up enough real estate in my pantry, without having to add another level of specialty items.  Finally, Hunn discusses some pretty fancy equipment that may be helpful- a proofing bucket, dutch oven, and couche, for example.  But unless you are getting ready to open your very own bakery, I am guessing you could make do with traditional tools.

Donuts

Donuts

That aside, the recipes in Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread are excellent.  With clear, detailed instructions, you can recreate old and new favorites with ease and success.  Her book stands apart from other gluten-free baking methods because when you follow her recipes, you won’t be quite sure if that freshly baked bread could possibly be gluten free.  Sure, Hunn moved away from her thrifty, grassroots ways and got a little fancy, but with the goal of stepping up the quality and authenticity of the finished product.  Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread is already a go-to classic in my kitchen, and I’m thankful for bloggers such as Hunn who put forth the painstaking effort so that we can maintain our gluten free diets without sacrificing the ability to enjoy focaccia or cinnamon buns once in a while.

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