Elevate Difference

Vegan Baking Classics: Delicious, Easy-to-Make Traditional Favorites

Kelly Rudnicki describes herself as a “busy mother of five young children,” the oldest of whom was “diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and legumes.” Incorporating material from her blog, Rudnicki’s first book, The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book, began as Vegan Baking Classics. Although the title of the book situates it in vegan media culture, I found Rudnicki’s writing style, interests, and recipe descriptions more typical of parenting and food allergy books.

Rudnicki lacks the edgy, almost punk style of some of the best vegan cookbook authors, like Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero, or the Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard powerhouse duo. Moskowitz and Romero’s Post-Punk Kitchen public access television show and website define the ways in which veganism is a playful way to be an anarchist in the kitchen without hurting anyone. And Moskowitz’s *Vegan with a Vengeance includes an anecdote about feminist potlucks, heightening what I see as a unifying tenant of many cookbooks: a sense that food is part of a larger set of political concomitants.

That is not to disparage Rudnicki. Her desire to feed her son the doughnuts, muffins, cakes, and cookies she remembers from her childhood offers a powerful testament to her mothering. She expresses her own activist interests in the book when she suggests that she wants doctors to find a cure for the allergens that plague her son. Rudnicki is concerned about health, and she offers tips for lowering the fat in baked goods, such as replacing some of the oils with apple sauce.

The recipes in Vegan Baking Classics are just that—classics. They are comfort foods made in a form consumable for vegans, people with food allergies, and anyone who wants to eat a variety of pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, and other delicious sweet treats.

The notes that accompany the recipes tend to be repetitive and, therefore, a little boring. At times, they even make the end result sound unappealing. As someone who eats my fair share of energy bars, I found the description of Rudnicki's Cranberry-Chocolate Drop Cookies, which she says remind her of her “favorite nutrition bars,” a bit off-putting. I have sometimes wished my energy bars tasted more like cookies, but I rarely wish a cookie tasted more like an energy bar.

Overall, Vegan Baking Classics offers a range of delectable and fun recipes that can satisfy a wide range of people whose teeth tend toward the sweet kind. Following Rudnicki’s hints and tips makes baking without dairy, eggs, and common allergens accessible, and every recipe is worth trying… even if her writing isn't as fun to read as the best punk rock vegan cooks out there.

Written by: Emily Bowles, December 12th 2010