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Cookbook deathmatch, David-vs-Goliath-style: Gratitude vs. Lieblingstorten | Bookshelf Monthly #4

Whoa, my vegan cookbook deathmatch premiers *DAVID vs. GOLIATH* style! An established gastro brand’s book vs. an independent bakery ebook. 

Once I’ve set my mind that anything I cook for pleasure (=not for the nutritional values) must be cruelty-free, I needed all the vegan knowledge I could get my hands on.

Vegan desserts? Don’t start me on fruit salad. It’s just salad!”
– Significant Other

BYE, BYE, MERINGE-LEMON PIE…

Blogs, books, documentaries, foodie discussions – I was everywhere, I even commited a deadly Internet sin (I read the comments), trying to figure out what substitutes what, how to replace eggs, butter, milk, cream, eggs, cottage cheese… Goshhhh. It sounded nothing like fun, really.

What made things easier for me, is the fact that I don’t like too much sugar and can’t stand cream based or buttercream desserts like layer cakes anyway. I’m not a fan of cupcakes (I also prefer dogs to cats, Internet, YESSS!) – and I love dairy-free chocolate. Most of my sugar cravings are easily satisfied with chocolate-covered dried fruit, fresh or dried berries, or simply an apple. So Monsieur and I often fight over the definition of “dessert”. For him, a fruit salad isn’t dessert, it’s a SALAD!
What I do like though are: waffles, sponge cakes and sponge fingers, pancakes, and meringues. Yes, a Pawlowa is much to my taste. And an occasional mousse au chocolat (which I love to provide with a crème brulée style caramel coat).
So I thought:
HELP ME, VEGAN BAKERS!
And turned to what I know. Obviously.
Books.
sweet-gratitude-book
lieblingstorten-ebook
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MEET THE OPPONENTS

Sweet Gratitude – A New World of raw Desserts (Recipes of Café Gratitude), soft cover, 18€, 248 pages. Raw and vegan.
Lieblingstorten (“Favourite Cakes”) by Stina Spiegelberg, baker and blogger at VeganPassion, ebook, 5€, 37 pages. Vegan baking.
These two are going to compete in the following…
…disciplines:
1. Ratio rating: Price and number of recipes ratio
2. Burnout or knockout: Can I start right away (ingredients) and do I get all basic recipes/knowledge?
3. Gear fear: Do the recipes require complicated equipment/rare or rather expensive ingredients?
4. Learning challenge: How advanced are the recipes?
5. Reality bites: How many recipes will I use in the end?
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ROUND 1: RATIO RATING – PRICE vs. NUMBER OF RECIPES

Sweet Gratitude delivers!!!
The not-so-sleek volume offers vegan AND raw goodness made of smashing 15 pies/tarts/cobbler, 17 cakes, 16 cheesecakes, 11 cookies/brownie, 8 ice cream recipes, 5 “milk”shakes, and 15 cacao-related recipes such as truffles, fudge, and bars. That’s not all, there are one meringe, two parfait recipes, one chocolate mousse, one crème caramel and one glaze recipes. Mouth-watering photography included!
Of course, most cheesecakes are varitations, as are most pies or cookies or truffles, but it’s still a very impressive treasure chest for a private home!
You get 93 recipes, which is approximately 0,20 Euro per recipe. Now if that was a pay wall, I’d totally dig it! But if you aren’t looking to turn your kitchen to a Café Gratitude kingdom, merely for a vegan ice cream or a vegan meringe pie, 18€ are probably too expensive.
2 points for the price-per-recipe, 0 points for the book price.
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Lieblingstorten is focused. Actually, 5€ is a sum almost everybody can spare to get a glance at vegan cake-making.
The PDF ebook offers a selection of 12 festive cakes, because this is what it aims at: festive, classic, baked (not raw) vegan cakes, lovely decorated in a way you can’t possibly tell they aren’t the “real”, as in: dairy-based, thing. The cake recipes include such German highlights as Schwarzwälder Kirsch and Prinzregententorte as well as delightful summery treats (Pineapple-Coconut cake, Strawberry-Rhubarb cake), all-times classics (Tiramisu cake, Moccha cake) or cakes for when the days get shorter (Red Wine and Apple Cake – Thanksgiving, anyone? – , Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake) or exotic ideas (Raspberry Chocolate Cake with Balsamico).
By simple math, each recipe comes at a cost of approx. 0,40 Euro per recipe. Still pretty good, given that those are select cakes and also quite basic ones, so you can easily adapt them to your personal style and preferences. And if you were looking to veganise your weekly book club coffeetable, well, go for it, vegan cake ninja!
1 point for the price-per-recipe, 1 point for the book price.
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ROUND 2: BURNOUT or KNOCKOUT? CAN I START RIGHT AWAY?

Sweet Gratitude makes things sound verrrrry easy. In fact, the making might come dead easy for any seasoned (haha, pun!) vegan, who’s used to store date paste, tons of cashews, vegan liquid vanilla, coconut oil, almond milk, lecithin or irish moss. I’m not. And while dates, cashews, liquid vanilla, nut milks and coconut oil can be found in my kitchen yet, I have no idea where to get lecithin, let alone fresh irish moss in Berlin. So some recipes call for an alternative; and I found Agar-Agar is a good replacer, because you can heat up just a tiny amount of liquid, and then add it to the mousse or whatever you’re whipping up (puns, neverending puns!), technically leaving this raw a.k.a. under 46 degrees Celsius. Tchakka!
The recipes are lovely, but I was doomed to browsing through the book and making notes first rather than jumping into the kitchen and starting the raw and vegan revolution right away.
As for basic knowledge, yes, this comes aplenty. Very helpful and comprehensive descriptions, I daresay, foolproof.
1 point for the ingredients, 3 points for basics.
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Lieblingstorten is somewhat more accessible because it’s not about raw cooking.
You are supposed to actually bake the cakes shown here.
The ingredients are simple, the hardest-to-get one being probably a soy-based cream replacer – but this is easily bought at any nearby organic store.
Basic knowledge – yes. Included in the recipes are a few cool basics: sponge cake, vanilla cream, glaze, chocolate mousse, ganache, tiramisu
2 points for the ingredients, 1 point for basics.
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ROUND 3: GEAR FEAR – WHAT DO I NEED TO START?

Sweet Gratitude recipes require one device you normally don’t have – unless you’re deep into the raw food rabbit hole (pun! carrots! anyhoo…)
Blender, mixer, and food processor are probably also found in every kitchen where people actually do cook, so what caught my eye is the dehydrator.
Apparently this is the go-to device for everything crispy – pie dough, crêpes, cookies.
1 point for equipment.
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Lieblingstorten only asks for quite common utensils.
2 points for easy equipment.
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ROUND 4: LEARNING CHALLENGE – HOW ADVANCED ARE THE RECIPES?

Sweet Gratitude offers both rather easy and sophisticated recipes. What I think is missing is an indicator system, something like “easy” – “advanced” – “pastry chef”.
Clearly, the non-baked cake batter (also non-dehydrated) takes a lot of time and effort to come off. Also, layering batter and cream and freezing them for hours before you proceed with the next layers is a bit tedious for everyday cooking.
In the same time, some recipes are fairly easy to reproduce – but I wouldn’t say any ot them is beginner level. Maybe if you’re a very curious beginner, desperately willing to learn?
0 points for missing indicator system, 1 point for the rather advanced level.
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Lieblingstorten recipes are all about the same level, medium-advanced I’d say.
Still, the step-by-step instructions are easy enough for a baking noob to premier as a vegan cake baker.
Decorating cakes is definitely an advanced skill though; so if you’re a complete and absolute beginner (“ta-da-da-daaa, ta-da-da-daa!”), you’ll want to keep the decorating simple and not make Schwarzwälder Kirsch your debut cake!
0 points for very minimal decorating tips, 1 point for the rather advanced level.
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ROUND 5: REALITY BITES – WILL I USE THESE RECIPES IN THE END?

Sweet Gratitude recipes that I will try or have tried include several cheesecake variations. Though I must say you find similar recipes aplenty online for free (and can make up similar recipes just yourself). As for them ice creams and chocolate mousse, I’ll stick with my Forks over Knives cookbook, providing much less complicated ideas (silken tofu, en garde!).
What I want to try are truffles and other chocolate concoctions, I figure they’re fantastic as holiday treats.
I’m a bit disappointed that I need the dehydrator for raw and vegan meringe. Meeeh! 😦
Cakes (those with layer-freeze-layer instructions) – the real Gratitude Art – is where I pass. At least for now. What stops me from even trying: those are too complicated too try on occasion. You need to practice first. Well, *I* do.
Well, suddenly the price per recipe ratio looks sad.
1 point.
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Lieblingstorten recipes that I have tried so far are just the basics. For example, I have baked vegan sponge cake/fingers instead of a complete cake or made a chocolate mousse or a vanilla cream. I must say, soy-based dairy replacers aren’t my favourites, so I’ve replaced them with whatever suited the recipe the best.
The only thing that admittedly can’t be replaced though is the “whipped cream”. This darn thing only works with a specific soy cream.
I also prefer spelt flour to wheat flour. 😉
I look forward to baking the Red Wine and Apple Cake in September, to celebrate the season. I entertain the idea of a weirded-up version of Schwarzwälder Kirsch for Halloween; and to cheer myself up end November, the Coconut Pineapple Cake will do! While The Cassis and Chocolate Mousse cake calls for my mum’s birthday in January.
1 point – for recipes I can actually use even though only few are truly original. 
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WHO WINS?

Sweet Gratitude: 9 points!
Lieblingstorten: 9 points!
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Wow. I swear I couldn’t see it coming.
Cake for everybody!
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😉

9 replies »

  1. 9 points each!!!! I was really hoping one would be an outright winner. Reality Bites is an issue that puts me off most recipe books. If I only use one or two recipes in a book, that makes them very expensive recipes.

    • Haha, I was hoping for a winner, too!

      As for the recipes used, yes, this is an issue. Here I found the mini ebook much more useful – I wanted vegan cakes, I got 12 vegan cakes, finito.
      With Sweet Gratitude, you get the whoooooole package really. They could have made a fortune by splitting them into “Raw vegan cheesecakes” and “Raw vegan ice cream and milkshakes” and selling those online. That would lower the frustration level as well 😉

      • Yes, that would have been sensible and more profitable. If you could figure out how to vegan-ise them I have two very good dairy free and gluten free recipes on my post In My Night Kitchen. I have just made the cookies again because I love them so much. They would keep your significant other happy for a week. But I must say that with the cookies I used rice flour and buckwheat flour not rice flour and maize flour.

  2. While I was reading this I was enjoying my fav dessert since some weeks: mashed banana mixed with a few drops of stevia and/or xylit (need it really sweet in the evenings) and chocolate powder. Yep, like something for babies but topped with a huge blob of almond butter.
    Nothing I would serve to my guests, but quite yummy and it really satisfies my craving; but now to the books. I have both, thanks to you 😉 Tried some bits and pieces and every time I have them in my hands I enjoy reading and dreaming what if… Occasionally I find the time to bake or bake without baking, but not very often 😦 Anyway, would recommend both although the Gratitude requires a dehydrator…

    • Gratitude gave me brand new knowledge; I just find most recipes too sophisticated for everyday use. As I said, cheesecakes are pretty easy and I look forward to making the truffles, but cakes and crêpes – I just don’t see it yet! 😀
      Lieblingstorten helped me bake own sponge fingers, and I love sponge fingers!

      As for cravings, hm, I am easily satisfied with a cup of dried berries really… Much to my honey’s dissent! 😀 He likes proper desserts. Like tonight, we had (dairy free) vanilla ice cream with hot plums with cinnamon, I say YAY, and he’s all “meeeh, do we have liquorice?” 😀