Ok, first of all, I agree to a small extent with some of the harsher reviews that this is not a perfect cookbook. HOWEVER, it's a very unique cookbook with very unique ingredients that most people aren't use to baking with. I think most of the negative reviews are much too harsh and come on, peops, at least give one of the recipes a trying before posting such negative reviews. I was disappointed to see the lack of hands on experience a lot of the negative reviewers had before posting such a review.
To address some of the negativos out there, I have to wonder what some of you guys are doing wrong. I have the first cookbook and have made over half of the recipes in it with only one recipe coming out badly (the vanilla frosting...my chocolate frosting came out fine). And I do agree that Erin should have included a much better recipe that more closely matched her retail products. Not cool.
Some of the recipes are really good and others just ok, but all in all, I think it's a very good cookbook. Now on to the second cookbook...I've only made a few of those recipes so far, probably 4-5 of them, but have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever so far. I've made the plain donuts twice now because they are SOOOO good (once with the coconut oil and once I subbed canola and the result was identical...could not tell a difference). And I'm not gluten intolerant...I just like them.
Here are some tips I've found when cooking with Babycakes...none are rocket science, but again, I haven't had major issues with either cookbook :
1) Use the important products she says and be careful when substituting. The biggest difference I have seen this make is in using the coconut oil Erin recommends for the frosting versus using another brand (even a good brand). My frosting that I made from the second cookbook was amazing and very much like the bakery's version in NYC. Other things I am more liberal with subbing, such as a milk for a milk. Never had any problems here.
2) When a recipe calls for bean flours, it always tastes better when it is at room temp rather than right out of the oven like conventional recipes. For some reason the bean taste is much stronger when the baked good is hot.
3) Always set your oven timer to half the first time you make a recipe and check on it once it's halfway through. You may need to just put it in a little longer or maybe a lot, but play it safe by ensuring that you not overcook anything. Then again, hopefully you all do this anyway with any kind of recipe, since we all know that every oven cooks differently.
4) If you can tolerate regular vanilla, try buying a large (think wine bottle) jar of Mexican vanilla at a farmers market. They usually run $6-10 for real vanilla. Will save you a ton of money.
5) A few recipes to start from if you're gun shy....from book 1: the chocolate chip cookies, the spelt biscuits (so easy and great!), the blueberry muffins and the blondies (my favorite recipe...sometimes I sub butterscotch chips). I've made most of the cupcakes with great results. The vanilla, healthy hostess and carrot were all fantastic. If your vanilla icing turns out too liquidy (happened to me from using the wrong coconut oil, but still tasted great), drizzle it over your cupcakes like a mini bread pudding. From book 2: so far my favorite is the plain donuts (not the agave sweetened ones, haven't tried those). I like them with the vanilla glaze topped with toasted unsweetened coconut or rolled in cinnamon sugar.
6) If you can tolerate spelt, her spelt recipes generally come out fabulous. These are only in book 1.
7) Read her books through and through. She gives tips, utensils to use, substitution advice, product advice, etc. Pay attention to what she says she likes...ex: she really likes ultra thin, crispy cookies. I like mine more chewy. So if a recipe calls for thin and crispy, try it her way on the first batch and do a small test batch to see how it goes before trying it your way.
I am not an experienced baker at all. I would say I'm an average baker and I find most of these recipes are pretty easy. The donut recipe? I gave my husband (who is not a cook of any kind) the book the other day and told him to make them and he did the whole thing in less than 20 min...so I wouldn't say that it is that hard.
If you like to bake or need a GF cookbook and want a healthier option for baking, this is a very good option. I have followed a lot of reviewers online about these books and most of the negative comments are about the expense of the ingredients or about the frosting recipes. Both valid arguments. But if you can get around it, it's a decent cookbook. A lot of other negative reviews are from people who haven't ever tried them. So take those worth a grain of salt.
If you're GF only (not vegan) and don't care about the health factor, I highly recommend Gluten-Free Baking Classics, but Annalise G. Roberts. She has some of the best cake recipes I've ever tasted (trumping my favorite ever bakery!), including normal baking. An absolutely phenomenal cookbook, much less expensive ingredients and worth every penny.