Last year, before the holidays, I was contacted about reviewing The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and I said yes. A copy was sent to me, arriving on Christmas Eve.
The author, Anne Byrn, is the mastermind behind The Cake Mix Doctor series. It all started when she was baking for her children and, being a busy mother, didn’t always have time to bake from scratch and she would use cake mixes. This would eventually cumulate into a cookbook idea that used cake mixes as the basis for recipes. For this new cake mix book, the focus is gluten-free and it is a timely release as gluten-free cake mixes are increasingly becoming better in quality and more available.
I don’t ordinarily use cake mixes – mixes have never been a big thing with my family – and nowadays I make everything from scratch, but I still recognize the importance and convenience of cake mixes. Using gluten-free cake mixes also helps eliminates a lot of the thinking and guess-work for people who are new to gluten-free baking and helping ease the transition until they are confident enough to work with a variety of flours and perhaps eventually make their own recipes with ease.
Although a cake mix cookbook, this are recipes for more than just cake. There are recipes for cookies, bars and brownies, and muffins as well – all using cake mix! There is even a recipe for fruit crumble. Included for all the recipes are quantities that the recipe yield, prep, baking, and cooling times as well as a space in the sidebar for recipe reminders for any observations the baker may have made, including variations (“special touches”) not mentioned in the cookbook. Throughout the book dairy-free options are also suggested.
Happy Monday! Last Friday I wrote up my experiences with my family in America and said that I would share our eating experiences. Well, here we are. This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything we ate, but rather the highlights. (Family members: add anything on in the comments that you think I might I have missed. ) Though most of the food was gluten-free and dairy-free, a few weren’t but do provide inspiration for me to make gluten-free/dairy-free versions.
1. Clam (and lobster) chowder. I did not manage to get any pictures of either chowder, when we were in San Francisco and when we were in Anaheim. The chowder in San Francisco was good but we all liked the one we had from Whole Foods in Tustin better as it was creamier and seemed to have more flavour and body. Both clam and lobster chowders were good. Surprisingly, the Whole Foods chowders did not use any cream at all, it was all butter and wheat. I had a notion that chowder is made with cream but maybe it isn’t? I don’t know. Anyway, I now want to make my own clam chowder, which would be both gluten- and dairy-free. I might make a lobster version as well.
2. Salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks. I know, you can get this stuff anywhere (it’s a coffee chain!) but it was too good for me not to mention it again. That was seriously the best one I’ve had anywhere. (Although now it could be topped or rivaled with the one I had last night.) Plus, there’s something special drinking a salty, caramel hot chocolate drink when you’re strolling through an overcast San Francisco and then hiking up steep street hills, burning off the calories while still sipping.
3. Lemon Meringue Cupcake from Orson (or Citizen Cake). (Official website) I would have to say the best lemon cupcake I’ve eaten, even trumping my own lemon cupcakes – and that is not said out of my idolizing Elizabeth Falkner! I’m keeping it brief here since I’ve written a whole post devoted to my brief nip into Orson, now it’s just a matter of putting in the pictures and adding a couple extra touches before I click publish.
4. Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. (Official website) My family isn’t new to their coconut milk ice creams, but we were floored by the variety while we were in Tustin. It was the full range, I’m sure – more than what is currently available in Canada. Honestly, to me the variety available in Canada now seems to fall short. I only managed to get a shot of the Passionate Mango, but all of the flavours that we tried (Cherry Amaretto, German Chocolate, and said Passionate Mango) were great. The mango one was light and creamy; the others were also creamy, and I would dare say creamier in a way not possible with dairy-based ice creams. Coconut milk is the way to go in dairy-free ice cream making because it’s creamier and richer than other alternatives such as soy milk and rice milk.
I’m reviewing Purely Decadent’s coconut milk ice cream. First off, delicious! I haven’t tried all the flavours but what I have tried – Coconut, Vanilla Bean, and Chocolate – does not disappoint. The coconut milk gives the ice cream a creamy and smooth consistency. It’s dairy-free and soy-free, perfect for those who are following GFCF (the cookie dough is gluten-free), as well as for those who are lactose intolerant, or for anyone wanting to try something new and different that isn’t made with dairy or soy or rice, and is also healthy and nutritious. It would also be SCD legal but it is sweetened with cane sugar or agave syrup.
Purely Decadent also now makes yogurt made with coconut milk (also dairy-free and soy-free), though I have not yet had the opportunity to try it.
For more information about Purely Decadent’s ice cream made with coconut milk, visit the website here. For information about their coconut milk yogurt, click here.