I've been through low-fat cookbooks before, and so many of the desserts are fruit and/or ice treats, I was really excited to see something that actually featured honest-to-god baked goods sans butter. But would they be any good? Of course I had to try it out!
First off: be aware that you will probably have to make a pitstop at your local organic/health-food/expensive/specialty grocery store if you're going to bake from this book. Cake flour is in almost every recipe that involves any kind of baked texture, and ingredients like almond powder(/almond meal/almond flour) and "starch syrup"-- any of a number of sweet syrups, probably most commonly corn syrup --may not be available in your local Safeway. There's also a recipe for cherry blossom muffins that look delicious, but I'm not at all sure where to tell you to go to get 6 salted cherry flowers and leaves, unless you have a Japanese grocery store near you as I do. A page about these less common ingredients, "translation notes" style, would be very useful, especially if it contained some possible substitutes for the ingredients in the event that they aren't acquirable.
My experience with the first recipe is that it turned out good, but not quite like it was in the cookbook-- which I'm betting is due to my substitution of corn syrup for honey, which I found as a possibility online. I suspect this altered the texture significantly (honey is thick and sweet like corn syrup, but probably a lot stickier, which would affect the texture), so I think that's the only big change I would make. That and that I would buy two cans of apricot halves instead of one-- this was supposed to be 16 2" square pieces, each with an apricot, laid out in a 4x4 pattern over an 8" square pan. But the single can only had 13 apricot halves, so I made it 12 pieces instead, a 4x3 pattern.
For the record, here are the nutritional facts from the original recipe, and from the way I did it, as calculated on SparkPeople's irreplaceable Recipe Calculator. You'll notice, of course, that mine's a bit heftier, but it's primarily due to cutting the cake into fewer, larger pieces than anything.
|Original Recipe||Gia's Version|
So in summary: it seems like a pretty good cookbook, though you may have to tweak your recipes based on what you can get ingredient-wise, and it's really great to see some attempt at real baking without butter and oil, instead of just giving up a bunch of recipes that started out without butter and oil from the get-go. That said, if you're looking at this because you think it might be good for the lactose-intolerant...don't. Most recipes involve milk, condensed milk, and/or yogurt, and you'll just be disappointed (unless you're adept at finding non-dairy versions of these products).