Cookbook Review: The Natural Baker by Henrietta Inman

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As an amateur baker and wannabe pastry chef, I couldn't help but be won over by the beautiful and inspired baked goods in this book. Henrietta Inman has clearly put a lot of thought into her concept--that she can make baked goods with all-natural ingredients taste as good, or even better, than their traditional baking counterparts.

Ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, spelt flour, and maple syrup abound. What was previously thought to be reserved for people with food allergies is now celebrated here. Inman stresses the importance of their nuttiness and deep rich flavor in ways that make me, a white flour user, very curious.

Of course, these recipes will take a little investment if your cupboard isn't already stocked with things like teff flour, almond meal, or rye flour. However, I am curious enough to taste the difference that I'd be willing to hunt them down in Whole Foods. Eating all-natural comes at a cost, as anyone who has done it already knows. From that perspective, the recipes are not outrageous. For people who are gluten-free, egg-free, or just trying to eat "clean", these recipes will seem not only doable, but also a welcome addition to their repertoire.

Besides the concept, the execution is also really well done. The writing is beautifully descriptive. Inman has a gift for writing about food in ways that make me want to lick the page. She weaves together ingredients in ways that are at once familiar and creative. For instance, I can't wait to make recipes like her Honeyed Semolina, Pine Nut, and Orange Custard Tarts or her Sticky Pear, Ginger, and Molasses Cake. Her cooking style leans British, with combos like orange and chocolate or prunes and chocolate, and Italian as well due to her background in Italy.

The photos are beautiful and match the recipes perfectly. There are lots of edible flowers and lots of rustic charm, with cake edges unfrosted, and muffins still in the pan. Best of all, there's a full-page photo for every recipe, which makes this the perfect cookbook to browse. I would absolutely give this as a gift to a number of friends, many of whom are gluten-free. With the current trend focused on clean eating, I feel like this is the perfect cookbook for this moment. 

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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