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Gluten-Free in Five Minutes, by Roben Ryberg

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Updated November 18, 2011

Gluten-Free in Five Minutes, by Roben Ryberg
© Roben Ryberg

I admit to loads of skepticism when I first skimmed through Gluten-Free in Five Minutes, the cookbook by chef and author Roben Ryberg that purports to produce individually-sized servings of gluten-free breads, rolls, cakes and muffins in just a few minutes using your microwave oven.

After a few weeks of experimenting with the recipe collection, though, much of my skepticism evaporated. Believe it or not, these recipes actually work.

Yes, the baked goods you can produce using this cookbook suffer from the same problems as anything cooked in the microwave — the products don't brown and form a nice crust on top, and all the products can get a bit chewy.

However, those are minor complaints when you consider that you can create a fresh-baked muffin, roll or even bagel with one bowl, a few simple ingredients and less than two minutes in the microwave. These recipes are just really simple and fun to make, and that's the best thing about this cookbook.

Recipes Provide Different Flour Options

Gluten-Free in Five Minutes offers 123 recipes, almost all of which are for single-serving gluten-free baked goods (the few exceptions include a few other foods, such as German potato salad, stuffed mushrooms, and simple things like corn on the cob and a boiled egg, all of which you can cook in the microwave).

However, you can't use the book to make 100 truly different baked goods, since many of the recipes overlap and even duplicate themselves. For example, there are four different recipes for hamburger rolls, each using a different kind of gluten-free flour: brown rice, white rice, cornstarch/cornmeal and sorghum.

Still, after doing some experimenting, I found I like having the different variations for the recipes — they allow you to choose your favorite of each, and account for people who may not be able to eat corn or rice products.

Beyond the gluten-free flours, most of the recipes include similar ingredients: eggs or egg whites, canola oil, applesauce, baking powder or baking soda, and salt. Many also include vanilla, sugar and cocoa, along with various added ingredients such as frozen blueberries, pumpkin pie spice, peanut butter and orange juice.

Gluten-Free in Five Minutes Fun For Kids to Use

The recipes in Gluten-Free in Five Minutes are easy enough for kids to try; in most cases, your child just needs to know how to measure, mix and turn on the microwave. In fact, the results are good enough that I've needed to place some limits on how many chocolate chip cookie bars my daughter can make in a row.

Overall, I found I could produce most of the recipes in this cookbook without the need to run to the store for ingredients I don't normally stock ... and that's a plus if you're looking for something quick but tasty.

Since my microwave is less powerful than most, I found I needed to add about 30 seconds to the microwave time recommended for each recipe. In addition, some of the foods — for example, the English muffins — really need to be toasted to remove that microwave-induced mushiness (to be fair, Ryberg recommends toasting many of the items, and states you can put them in a toaster oven or regular oven to make the tops crisper).

Overall, this is not a gourmet collection of recipes for gluten-free baking — instead, it's a kid-friendly collection that can help when you don't have any good snacks in the house. The baked goods these recipes produce aren't perfect, and you certainly could produce better ones using more elaborate recipes (not to mention your real oven).

However, for those of us (with kids or not) who like to experiment and play around in the kitchen with some simple ingredients, and who like the idea of whipping up something homemade in a few minutes, this is a really fun gluten-free cookbook. I recommend it.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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