Cookbook Review: Bunner's Bakeshop
I have many gluten free cookbooks, so I’ve decided to start reviewing them so everyone else can pick the best.
Back in 2013 my wife and I visited Toronto, I’d managed to convince her that the Toronto Indycar race would be fun to watch. While over there we went to the amazing Bunner’s Bakeshop, a completely gluten free and vegan bakery. I’m not vegan but I was seriously impressed with their cakes and cinnamon rolls.
If you’d like some more details and some tips (and cake pictures) read on!
The recipes in the Bunner’s Bakeshop cookbook are really simply to follow for the most part. I’ve mostly made the sweets: cakes, cupcakes and cake–style doughnuts. The savories are a bit trickier so I haven’t tried them as often.
I’ve never had any real issues with the recipes, they work pretty well the first time and I’m not a super experienced baker. I use a stand mixer but hand mixing with a wooden spoon works well — most of the recipes are two bowl recipes, just combine liquid and dry ingredients.
I do find an additional 1/2 teaspoon of guar gum in addition to the xanthan gum helps the cakes retain shape, without this they tend to sink. This could just be my baking skill level though, or my oven.
Flours are sourced from Bob’s Red Mill which could prove hard to obtain, but they are exporting to more countries all the time. They’re also a pretty cool company. Most of the flours can be sourced from other suppliers, but they have a blended garbanzo and fava (chickpea and broad bean) flour which is required for most recipes.
Using chickpea (garbanzo) flour, as most of Bunner’s recipes do, does require a complete baking. If any raw mix remains there will be a strong bean–y taste which is rather unpleasant in a sweet. In practice I haven’t found this to be an issue and the standard toothpick cake test works perfectly (if a toothpick or skewer is inserted in the middle of the cake and comes out clean then the cake is baked).
I’ve also had difficulty sourcing unsweetened apple sauce which is the egg replacement. Most health food stores will stock this, though often only in large jars. Fortunately it freezes well. Measure out half cups in to freezer–safe containers and thaw when needed. It also keeps for a couple of months in the fridge. If you’re in New Zealand Countdown stock unsweetened apple sauce in the sauce aisle. Just make sure you get the no added sugar variety and check it only contains Apple.
The only problem I have is the use of agave nectar instead of sugar, but this is personal preference. I find agave nectar is far too sweet, and Bunner’s have added what I consider a lot of salt to compensate. I tend to replace the agave with about half its volume of granulated sugar and an additional half the volume of water (I eyeball this, adding water until the mix is runny enough). I also cut the salt down to half a teaspoon.
I think this is a wonderful recipe book. It’s clear and easy to follow and the recipes work in a domestic kitchen.