What I Liked Most
Most recipes fit on a single page and have a picture of the finished product. As a gluten-free baker, I had all the ingredients already on-hand for the recipes I chose – nothing too out there.
What I Made
- Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (I left out the raisins and added chocolate chips instead)
- Vegan Tahini Halvah Brownies
- Vegan Chocolate-Olive Oil Layer Cake with Vegan Buttercream
- Sourdough Starter
Successes & Tips
~ Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies worked beautifully. After the first batch, I learned to press them flat with the palm of my hand before putting them in the oven for even baking and pretty presentation.
~ Vegan Tahini Halvah Brownies worked beautifully and had a wonderful cake-like crumb. I would bake them for 15 minutes less next time.
~ Vegan Chocolate-Olive Oil Layer Cake with Vegan Buttercream needs no adjustments.
Sourdough starter. I tried three times with different bowls, covered and uncovered, in different locations around my house. All three attempts grew mold and had to be discarded. Guess I am not meant to be a bread baker.
Not to Miss Recipes
Hardcastle is known for her lemon drizzle cake, iced cinnamon rolls and coffee cake.
Who This Book is For
Anyone who wants to explore American baking or wants to craft a homemade treat for a so-called “finicky eater.” Hardcastle approaches the book like a home chef with easy to peruse sections dedicated to American pastries like cookies and bars, casual cakes, and pies and tarts. A section on Master Recipes reveals her secret to making buttery brioche and a vegan pastry dough that rocks. Most ingredients are easy to find, and recipes are easy to follow, even for novice bakers.
Pastry chefs who are unfamiliar with gluten-free ingredients can try their hand at straightforward bakes like lemon angel food cake and savory scones while more experienced chefs can geek out over sourdough bagels and vegan baked doughnuts.
Despite my failed starter, this book made it onto my “regulars” shelf. I am a regular gluten-free and vegan (no eggs or dairy) baker.
About the Author
Chef Heather Hardcastle, who co-owns two thriving gluten-free bakery restaurants in northern California with her husband, Rick Perko, was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2000. She learned how to cook everything gluten-free from scratch before subsequently matriculating from the general pastry program at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena.
Number of Recipes: 100+ | Pages: 239 | Date Published: 2021