guest post: elizabeth barbone of gluten free baking

Today I'm thrilled to have accomplished author Elizabeth Barbone of the books How to Cook Gluten Free and Easy Gluten Free Baking, as well as the owner of the website glutenfreebaking.com and gluten-free writer for seriouseats.com. Her latest recipe for Serious Eats is beer-battered fish fry!


She is also giving away two of her most recent cookbooks "How to Cook Gluten Free". See details at bottom of this post.
Elizabeth Barbone was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about how and why she lives a gluten free life. In the new book called “How to cook Gluten Free: Over 150 Recipes that really work”: gluten free, plain and simple. Elizabeth Barbone’s challenge to herself was to create easy gluten-free recipes that she could make on her busiest day. How to Cook Gluten-Free is her answer: a straight-forward, comprehensive guide to gluten-free cooking – a must have resource with real solutions for real people.

Just like her previous well-loved books, Easy Gluten-Free Baking, Elizabeth’s recipes use ingredients that can be found at your local grocery store—nothing too fancy or expensive—so you can delicious meals on the table without breaking the bank. The recipes have been meticulously tested and perfected, so that in your hands, dishes will come out right every time.

Essential how-to lessons: step by step photography illustrates all the basics, from how to make gluten free substitutions and whip up the perfect gray to Elizabeth’s fail-proof recipes for gluten free baked goods such as sandwich bread, hamburger buns, and pizza crusts.

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Allergy-friendly: Elizabeth hasn’t forgotten those who suffer from non-gluten food allergies; some recipes are also soy-free and nut-free and Elizabeth has even included a guide to substituting milk, butter, corn and cheese.

About Elizabeth Barbone:
Despite being born with life-threatening food-allergies, Elizabeth graduated from the Culinary Institute of America where she learned how to cook delicious meals fro herself and other food allergic people. Today Elizabeth develops delicious and creative recipes for the food allergic and gluten-free communities through her site www.glutenfreebaking.com, a weekly column on www.seriouseats.com, and regular television appearances. She is also the author of “Easy Gluten-Free Baking”. She lives in Troy, NY.

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I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but what prompted you to start creating “gluten free” recipes? I read in your bio that you were pretty much born with life-threatening food allergies? I see that doctors now, are able to diagnose gluten allergies, were they so easy to diagnose back then—I can’t imagine it was? Did your parents know straight away that you had food allergies?

As a kid, I was so sick: red, splotchy, and vomiting all the time. My parents knew I was reacting to something but they weren’t sure what. Diagnosis was really hard back then. They brought me to Boston (I’m from the Albany, NY area) and doctors diagnosed me with a slew of food allergies but, get this, gluten wasn’t one of them!

While studying at the CIA, I happened upon “Against the Grain” by Jax Peters Lowell. Although the book focused on celiac disease, it really spoke to me. Living on a restricted diet is tough! Whether you have celiac disease, allergies, or some other intolerance, you face many of the same challenges. From that point, I wanted to try gluten-free baking. It seemed like a fun challenge that would benefit lots of folks.

Interestingly, it wasn’t until three years ago that my doctor discovered I reacted to gluten. My thyroid went off and suddenly I was terribly anemic. I remember when my doctor looked at me at said, “You know, this looks like celiac to me.” My bloodwork came back elevated. Since then, I’ve been on the diet and my blookwork remains negative. The work I dedicated my professional life to turned out to help me. Strange and wonderful, right?

For those of us who aren’t completely familiar with a gluten allergy (myself included) what are the signs that you are allergic to gluten?

I have to start by saying that celiac disease isn’t an allergy. It’s an autoimmine response. There are many signs, some common--like intestinal distress-- and others more vague--like dental enamel defects. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) provides a great guide to symptoms. It’s here and I use it all the time when folks have questions about celiac disease!

Your other book “Easy Gluten Free Baking” did very well and I see got a nice acknowledgement from Rachel Ray. That must have felt good? Was that your first book? Where did you get the inspiration to write that book?
Oh! Thanks! The blurb from Rachael Ray was so kind! I made several treats from the book and set them to Rachael. Much to my delight, she enjoyed them!

Easy Gluten-Free Baking was my first book. In fact, I first self-published after being told by several publishers that there was “no market” for gluten-free! I knew they were mistaken! In 2003, I started teaching gluten-free classes and knew folks needed recipes. So I self-published. Then, when the book did well, I sold it to Lake Isle Press. I really wanted to focus on creating recipes and teaching people how to bake gluten-free, not worry about shipping books to stores! I’m so lucky that Lake Isle Press really cares about folks on a gluten-free. And they care about their authors! It’s a wonderful working relationship.

As for the inspiration, I wanted to write a gluten-free baking book that used easy-to-find ingredients and was filled with beloved treats. In the book, there’s everything from chocolate chip cookies to sandwich bread and all the recipes use ingredients you can find at (most) supermarkets.

I see on the dedication page, you dedicated the book to your mom and dad; thanking them for teaching you about love, life and good food. Were your parents into creative foods? Did you bake with them? Where did they get their love of food from?

My parents raised me with a wonderful appreciation for food! They both cooked and being with them in the kitchen was just a normal part of family life. Each night, we ate dinner together. And my mom? She has quite the baking prowess! She won so many blue ribbons in the county fair that they asked her to stop entering so someone else had a chance to win. I think she’s still miffed about that! She really had fun entering!

When creating new gluten free recipes, where do you get your inspiration from? Are any of your recipes ‘spur of the moment?

Inspiration comes from everywhere! Sometimes it’s “spur of the moment”, other times it’s from a reader who wants a well-loved recipe “converted” and other times it’s a bit of planning. I start thinking about the seasons a little early, wondering, “Hmmm...what would be fun to make?”

I know a lot of people hear the term “gluten-free” and automatically think tasteless, bland, boring food (myself included). I was literally blown away when I saw that you had recipes in your book for: whoopie pies, brownies, cupcakes, and a whole vast array of homemade breads! And judging from the photos in the book, there is no way that these are boring; they look absolutely delicious. What is your favorite recipe(s)?

Oh! Thanks! Yes, there’s no bland, boring food here!

My favorite recipe? Oh my goodness. That’s like asking a mom which child is her favorite! :-) It feels impossible to chose! That said, I have to say I’m particularly smitten with the new bread recipe. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, and soy-free. It took lots of testing to get it “just right.” The other night, I made the roasted veggie chicken chipotle wraps from the book. The are so good, I could eat them every night!

You must get a lot of emails/questions about gluten-free baking? What’s the most common question?
Lots of questions deal with the transition time. How do I set up a gluten-free kitchen? Which recipe should I start with? Even today, with the gluten-free diet becoming more well-known, there’s still a lot of confusion when someone first goes gluten-free. I try to make things easier!

What country would you like to visit most for their food?
Ah, I love to travel! France and I have a continuing love affair. Since it’s been several years since I visited, I’ll say France. A culinary cliché, I know! But I do love France!

I’m curious, are there any gluten free junk foods out there? Those would be the ones I would be drawn too. Are you? Which ones?

Gluten-free junk food available? For years, that would have been a one-word answer, “No!” But that’s changing. Now gluten-free pretzels, doughnuts, and other treats available are available I’m not terribly drawn to them. For “junk”, give me gluten-free tortilla chips and queso (so bad but so good!) any day! Or a tootsie roll when I want something quick and sweet.

Favorite health foods?
Any fresh fruit or vegetable that I’m not allergic to! (I’m allergic to raw carrots and celery, of all things!) Lately I’ve tinkered around with green smoothies. I avoided them for a long time because many of the recipes called for ingredients that I can’t have. So I created my own green smoothie. It’s not terribly original, just baby spinach or lettuce, frozen strawberries, orange juice, and peanut butter, but I like it!

What is your favorite food to write about or create with?
I love (love, love, love) “home-style” recipes. Something you’d take to a pot luck or serve on a busy night. While I have a degree from culinary school, complicated food isn’t the type of cooking I want to do. Give me a delicious pasta dish made with ingredients from the farmers’ market over anything sous-vide any day!

Are there any chef celebrities that inspire you?
The first person that popped to mind is Lynn Rosetto Kasper, from the Splendid Table! While she doesn’t work in a restaurant as a chef, she’s my celebrity inspiration! I find her interviews so compelling. Her interest and enthusiasm in all things food, reminds us all that there’s always more to learn.

What types of cookbooks do you have on the brain or in the works next?
So many new ideas! In fact, a book idea came to mind, unbidden, just the other day! I can’t say what it is but, as always, it will focus on easy-to-make recipes that just happen to be gluten-free.

Wonderful! Thank you so much Elizabeth. I learned a lot from this post. And I hope some of you did as well.
If you live a gluten-free lifestyle, please visit Elizabeth's website glutenfreebaking.com for baking recipes and for cooking recipes make sure to check out her latest book "How to Cook Gluten Free".

**For a chance to win a copy of this book, please leave ONE comment telling us what kind of gluten free recipes you've used or would like to see.
Also, if you do live gluten-free, tell us.
I'll draw two names next friday (4/6/12) and announce the winners.
Please have a valid email address in your post.
One entry per person only.


  1. Congrats to Elizabeth on her books and for making GF look delicious!

  2. The mozzarella sticks looks SO delicious!

  3. My dad has had coeliac disease for around the past 10 years, so we all know about eating gluten-free in my house. One of my favourite recipes is a gluten-free four ingredient chocolate cake that turns out divine... just eggs, butter, sugar, and melted chocolate! The book sounds amazing!!


  4. I've made the Gourmet Magazine GF Chocolate Chip Cookies. They always get rave reviews. I like using flours beyond wheat and would love to win Elizabeth's book.

  5. I recently made almond meal muffins....I liked them very much and would love to win the book.

  6. I've recently started to lower my gluten intake in an attempt to alleviate symptoms from some other autoimmune issues, and so far it's working! My far-and-away favorite gluten-free recipe so far has been David Leibovitz's brownies (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/08/gluten-free-brownies-recipe-chocolate/). Love your attitude and ideas, fingers crossed for one of your books!

  7. A friend of mine son is on a gf diet. She is having trouble finding things that a six year old would like....When I saw the mozzarella sticks I thought this book would be perfect for her......


  8. I couldn't be more pleased that you are featuring a GF cookbook. And what a great interview!! Thank you to Elizabeth Barbone for what you do! I was diagnosed with Celiac's back in September and have been living GF since then, and began feeling great within weeks! I have actually been really intimidated to try GF baking, but would love to try and would LOVE to see them on your blog too. (The best thing to me about baking/cooking blogs is not only do you get a taste review of a recipe, but also the baker/cook's experience in creating food, which would be SUPER beneficial in GF baking). Thank you so much! I'm going to jump over to her glutenfreebaking now! And just maybe attempt something this weekend! Have a great weekend!

  9. My mom is gluten-free and she's done a really good job figuring out how to make her favorite baked goods (especially cookies!) gluten-free. I'd love to see a cobbler recipe, preferably one without oats since she has issues with those too.


  10. Forgot to leave my email address in case I win. Oops! emilywells10@gmail.com

  11. i have not prepared anything that was gluten free but i have become interested in trying it. i would likely bake something w/ almond flour (that is gluten free - right?) to start.

    jacquieastemborski AT comcast DOT net

  12. I was diagnosed with celiacs 2 years ago right before my wedding (I was 27). A few months back, my little sister (now 27) was diagnosed with celiacs. She and I would love to explore the recipes in this book together! mlec3381@yahoo.com

  13. My father in law can't have gluten. I would love to try these recipes for him, especially desserts! mharper03 At hotmail dot com.

  14. Forgot to enter my e_mail address
    It is trout4banc@msn.com
    Thanks, looking forward to trying your recipes.

  15. A good friend of mine is gluten-intolerant, but we've had a blast experimenting with converting recipes to gf...like a lemon pound cake! We're still working on finding a good gf pizza crust recipe.

  16. I've been trying to be gluten free for some time. It's very difficult. I have a gluten freen lunch today in fact. Rice pasta, with cauliflower roux (gluten free flour) and broccoli sort of a mac and cheese with extra veggie and instead of panko, I crushed up some rice crispies as a crunchy topping. Yummy!

  17. I have a wonderful gluten-free and flour-free muffin recipe that took many times to get it the way I like it. It was well work the failures.

  18. I would like to see more gluten free dessert recipes. I haven't found too many that are worth the calories


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