The hot, new vegan cookbook, at least for the next 17 seconds until the even-newer and ever-hotter vegan cookbooks come out, is BabyCakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery, by Erin McKenna. She's the cupcake queen from the fantastically hip BabyCakes NYC Bakery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and an outlier in L.A. to whet the appetites of the stars.
Forget everything you’ve heard about health-conscious baking.
Simply, BabyCakes is your key to an enlightened, indulgent, sweets-filled future. This is important news not only for parents whose children have allergies, for vegans, and for others who struggle with food sensitivities, but also for all you sugar-loving traditionalists. The recipes in these pages prove that there is a healthy alternative to recklessly made desserts, one that doesn't sacrifice taste or texture.
Having experimented endlessly with alternative, health-conscious sweeteners, flours, and thickeners, Erin McKenna, the proprietress of beloved bakery BabyCakes NYC, developed these recipes–most are gluten-free, all are without refined sugar–in hopes of combating her own wheat, dairy, and sugar sensitivities. In BabyCakes, she shares detailed information about the ingredients she uses (coconut flour, xanthan gum, and agave nectar, for example) and how to substitute them properly for common ones–all the while guiding you safely through techniques she’s spent years perfecting.
When BabyCakes NYC opened on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2005, it helped propel the gluten-free and vegan baking movement into a new stratosphere. Suddenly there was a destination for those with wheat allergies and other dietary restrictions–and, soon enough, celebrities and dessert lovers of every kind–to indulge freely in delectable muffins and teacakes, brownies and cookies, pies and cobblers.
Enclosed within these pages are all the “secrets” you’ll need to bring the greatness of BabyCakes NYC into your own home as well as raves and recommendations from devotees such as Natalie Portman, Jason Schwartzman, Mary-Louise Parker, Zooey Deschanel, and Pamela Anderson.
For confectionists of all kinds, delicious alternatives lie within: Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Shortbread Scones with Caramelized Bananas, Strawberry Shortcake, and BabyCakes NYC’s celebrated frosting (so delicious it has fans tipping back frosting shots!), to name just a few. Finally, Erin’s blissful desserts are yours for the baking!
It all sounds wonderful. Except for one tiny little problem. Most of the recipes are not - despite the title - gluten free. They're wheat-free, to be sure, every one of them. But a large number of the recipes contain spelt. And spelt contains gluten.
Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance. However, spelt has a tougher husk than wheat, which may help protect the nutrients in spelt. Spelt flour has a somewhat nuttier and slightly sweeter flavor than whole wheat flour. Spelt contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest. This means that some people who are allergic to wheat may be able to tolerate spelt. Spelt has gluten, just like wheat, so spelt is not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
Because the book is vegan and therefore dairy-free, it may be of use to the vast majority of you. However, if you are avoiding dairy because you have a true gluten intolerance, then you should avoid the book even if some of the recipes are spelt-free as well.