Cook the Book: Easy Gluten-Free Baking

20090810easyglutenfreebaking.jpgLast week's episode of Top Chef Masters was a real insight into the limitations of a gluten-free diet. The challenge was to create a vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free dish for guest judge and actress Zooey Deschanel. When the completing chefs heard about Deschanel's dietary limitations they were flummoxed. Without meat, dairy, wheat, or soy, coming up with a tasty recipe was a challenge indeed.

Michael Chiarello was the big winner with his quinoa pasta with salsa verde and gremolata, tomatoes, and crispy basil leaf. Art Smith's strawberry rice milk ice cream with almond brittle was the least favorite dish of the episode and sadly, got Smith eliminated.

It's not surprising that dessert proved to be the most difficult course to execute considering all of the limitations involved. Gluten-free baking is no easy task, or is it? Two years ago Elizabeth Barbone set out to demystify gluten-free baking on her blog, Easy Gluten-Free Baking. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a specialty in baking and pastry arts, Barbone knows a thing or two about baking.

But one interesting thing to note about Barbone—she doesn't have to adhere to a gluten-free diet for health reasons. Barbone has pitted all of the gluten-free baked goods in her new book Easy Gluten-Free Baking against their floury equals and claims that they taste just as good or even better.

As a novice to the gluten-free world, I am going to try out these recipes at home and share my results with you. Since I don't have any xanthan gum or rice flour in my pantry (two of the basic necessities for gluten-free baking), it looks like a trip to the store is in order.

Win Easy Gluten-Free Baking

Every day this week we will be featuring a recipe from Easy Gluten-Free Baking and sharing gluten-free baking tips. This weeks line up includes Diner-Style Buttermilk Pancakes, Lemon Bars, and a few fun gluten-free versions of classic American treats such as Oreos and Twinkies.

Thanks to the generosity of the folks over at Lake Isle Press, we are giving away five (5) copies of Easy Gluten-Free Baking this week. All you have to do is tell us about your all-time favorite baked good in the comments section below.

Five (5) people will be chosen at random among the eligible comments below. We're sorry, but entry is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close Monday, August 17 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.