Well, here it is, New Years Eve. Seems like most people are glad to see 2010 go, but it was also a year of amazing highs as well as lows. After a number of false starts, well chronicled here, we finally did launch PizzaQuest.com, just before Christmas, and we've been getting some serious action there. If you haven't yet checked it out, please do and leave a comment; I'd love to know what you think of it. We just posted the second round of new content and I'm really excited about how well the videos are playing. The link is www.pizzaquest.com
As for the recipe testing, it looks like Mark, who has been working really hard on this, is just about ready to take applicants. So I plan to announce the address the next time I log on here, which should be January 15th. In advance of that, and to minimize the number of applicants who don't have the right ingredients or actual interest in these recipes, let me list here what type of things you will need to know in order to participate (remember, we are limiting the first round of testing to the first 50 applicants, though we will keep a waiting list for round two, which will probably start two months later):
--These are all gluten-free baking recipes which means no wheat, rye, or barley. These are also carb-free recipes, which means no grain at all--no rice flour, tapioca, potato starch, oats, corn--nada! That means everything you already know about gluten-free baking does not necessarily apply to these recipes. In fact, you don't even have to be gluten intolerant to test these (I'm not, for instance--I just like the way they taste).
--Because they are carb-free as well, they are also aimed at people with blood sugar issues, such as diabetes or pre-diabetes. This aspect of the book is just as important as the gluten-free aspect. Of course, you don't have to have either of these conditions (gluten sensitivity or diabetes) to be a tester, nor do you have to be an experienced baker--we will accept testers at all levels of baking experience.
--I can only promise to recipe testers that I will list your name in the acknowledgements section. I cannot give anyone a free copy of the book or even a discount on the book, but will offer to send personalized signed bookplates (that is, a peel-off stick-in label) if you send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope (details on this will come after the book is available, which won't be till April, 2012). In other words, there is no compensation for being a tester, other than my eternal gratitude and a chance to have a sneak peek and head start with some of the recipes.
--As some of you who have tested before know, there is work involved as well as the expense of the ingredients. This book will be very different from my previous books, as there will be no fermentation involved--no yeast (well, there will be a few recipes with yeast but most will not have it), The ingredients can mostly be found in natural foods markets and some can only be found via mail order (I will provide internet addresses for some mail order houses--those who already do gluten-free baking may know of them or of others). Please don't sign up if you just want to test one or two recipes and then drop out. I need testers who are willing to test a number of recipes and hang in for a couple of months. Be prepared to test at least five recipes or more. If you hit testing fatigue, of course you can stop, but I'd prefer to have those aboard who can test frequently and for a while. These recipes are actually easier than regular yeast-raised wheat flour breads so, hopefully, you will be able and willing to participate for the long haul.
--This is most important: confidentiality is critical. Anyone who agrees to be a tester also agrees not to share these recipe with anyone, in any form. I do not want to see these recipes being passed around on the internet, discussed in chat groups, or printed out for friends, even if they would benefit from them. You must agree to keep these confidential or I will have to suspend the testing and use only a few trusted friends. I think the reasons are obvious, and there have been only a few breaches of this trust in the past, but I have to stress this upfront and ask you to honor my request for absolute confidentiality.
--The final deadline for the manuscript is July 1st, which means there will be no testing after that date. I will start issuing recipes at the end of January, so this gives us about six months for the testing process. But it then takes nine months for the book to go through its editorial process before it is published. So the confidentiality agreement must stay in place until after the book is published.
--If you are a tester you will need to have a seed grinder or a small food processor that can grind seeds and nuts into flour. I use a small Bosch seed grinder (aka coffee grinder); it's not expensive and it, or other brands, can be found at cookware stores and it really makes the job easy--much better than a blender or food processor.
--You will be buying a variety of nuts and seeds and every recipe will use some combination of these. So, if you have a sensitivity to tree nuts, please don't sign up to be a tester, as these recipes won't work for you. I am sympathetic to anyone with a food sensitivity and know how difficult it is to find replacements for nuts, but the focus of this book will be for those who have either gluten or sugar sensitivities, not nut allergies. This is not an allergan-free cookbook, but fortunately, there are some good books on that subject already out there. For this book, you will also need to purchase xanthan gum, which is now readily available at natural food markets. If you have a sensitivity to xanthan gum you can substitute guar gum. Most experienced gluten-free bakers are familiar with these gums but, if you have never baked gluten-free breads before, this ingredient is a substitute for gluten. We won't be using gums in all of our recipes, only some.
Okay, this should be enough information to help you decide if you want to be a tester. I can't promise but I will make every effort to designate Saturday, January 15th as the day we'll open the door for signing up. I will give details then about where to write and how the process will work. Please do not write to me in advance asking to be a tester--there will be a special website where you will register and also where you will send your testing results (this will be different than in the past where we handled it all by e-mail). If there is a delay regarding January 15th, I will announce it here in advance.
So, as you can see, I'm juggling a lot of projects (I still have my regular classes at Johnson & Wales to teach as well as some product consulting projects). Please forgive me for how long this is taking or if it doesn't all go smoothly. I greatly appreciate your patience and support and look forward to sending out the first batch of recipes for testing and getting your feedback. For those who aren't testing, I will continue to post here from time to time, but suggest you go to my PizzaQuest.com blog for more frequent postings and musings.
Till next time, May Your Bread Always Rise, and have a Happy, Healthy New Year!!!