EATING MY EMPIRE

The Best Gluten-Free Cookbooks for Bread, Pastries, and More

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The Best Gluten-Free Cookbooks for Bread, Pastries, and More

My hunt for the best gluten-free cookbooks began when my doctor diagnosed me with severe gluten intolerance in March of 2020 (yes, I’m aware of the unfortunate timing). I went into overdrive, searching for gluten-free pastas, snacks, and other alternatives to the gluten-filled foods I loved. The biggest takeaway from all my research: Stop comparing gluten-free products to the “real” thing because you’ll only be disappointed. 

I grew up in a half Italian American, half Jewish household with fresh homemade pizza and bagels nearly every week, so I refused to accept a future life of subpar options thanks to a condition I can’t change. I turned to cookbooks. As a preteen, I baked my way through Martha Stewart’s catalog, which I, a suburban kid, thought was the epitome of gourmet. I later graduated to reading vintage Le Cordon Bleu textbooks that taught me techniques like tempering chocolate and how to properly fill an éclair. All those skills felt suddenly useless because, while lots of recipes can easily be adapted with one-to-one gluten-free flour blends (I prefer King Arthur), you can’t use it for breads or pastries. And it definitely won’t work as a substitution when making anything fried, like calamari or chicken; most of the time the breading congeals into an oil-soaked mess regardless how good your technique is. At a certain point, you need to use specifically gluten-free recipes.

Over the next two years, I bought nearly every highly rated, interesting-sounding gluten-free cookbook recommended by gluten-intolerant friends, passionate Amazon reviewers, magazine roundups, mommy bloggers with celiac kids, and anyone willing to offer advice. I cooked my way through them all, baking everything from gluten-free cannolis and four-layer cakes to sourdough bread and bagels. Some of the books I tested, as with most online recipes, abide by the “beggars can’t be choosers” proverb, yielding bread that won’t rise and far-too-dense cakes. But others innovate on classic recipes using unique flours and techniques that get you gluten-free foods indistinguishable from the originals. Below are the seven best gluten-free cookbooks I’ve tried, and, truthfully, I’ve never made a bad recipe from any of them.

A lot of gluten-free books claim to have cracked the code to baking moist, fluffy, gluten-free bread with a delectable crumb, and some do come close (most do not). But Baked to Perfection, written by a food blogger with multiple degrees in chemistry and food sensitivities, actually nailed it. I stared at the first loaf I made in awe after it came out of the oven because it looked—not to brag too much—absolutely perfect. Each loaf since has had the same texture, taste, rise, and crust as its wheat-filled counterpart. 

Before each chapter, you can read the best practices for baking, like how high to fill cupcake tins to get the right rise and how to properly shape dough. It expounds on the importance of weighing your ingredients instead of using volumetric cups and even tells you the science behind how each of the ingredients, like psyllium husk and tapioca starch, work. The book offers other dessert recipes, too, so it also has some versatility, but the bread recipes alone are worth the buy.