The web is full of bread baking usufull information. There are many sites that offer tips, troubleshooting, recipes, product recommendations, and whatnot. However, books have depth and potential drill-down to details that are sometimes lacking or overlooked on the web. There are Master Bakers all over the world who perfected the art of artisan bread for years and these are exactly the people you want to learn from. Perhaps you will not find yourself baking a 38-page bread recipe of the La Tartan Bakery but you can certainly draw inspiration from this artwork and take something from it to perfect and upgrade your craft.
In this post, you can find the books that are on my list. In my honest opinion, they are the best tutors a home baker can possibly have. I do not have all of them, but like any self-respecting library, you do not buy everything at once but gradually build an impressive body of knowledge. Between us, it also looks good on your kitchen display or as a “coffee table book” in the living room.
How To Choose The Right Book For Yourself
At the end of the day, when you are about to make a choice, the bigger the selection the harder the choice. All these books are filled with techniques, theories, recipes, and beautiful promising illustrations. It can be overwhelming.
For the ultimate recommendations for a book tailored to your bread baking ability and knowledge, you are welcome to check out this post.
Before you start browsing this list keep in mind one thing:
Reading Can Seriously Damage Your Ignorance 🙂
Just a funny saying I came across (not sure who said it originally ) but I couldn’t resist…
The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard
This book, which includes recipes, personal stories and “living” images from the baking process, pays homage to all kind of European bread and gives plenty of recipes from all over Europe, all in simple language and very easy to understand instructions.
The author followed ancient practices for baking bread and adapted them to our current days. He makes very good combinations of ingredients such as fruits, nuts, olives, raisins and more in the bread so if you like these types of bread that’s definitely a bonus.
Most of the recipes are for sourdough bread.
His explanation of how to build a sourdough starter is simply eye-opening as well as many of the baking techniques he reveals in the book. In this context, one must mention the explanation of the bread kneading that encourages the baker to switch from relying on a mixer to kneading by hand.
I have to say It is very fun to hear how Lepard learned the different techniques or recipes over the years, where and from whom, it certainly adds enjoyment and personal touch to the book.
My only reservation: I’m not sure this is the book is for the beginner home beaker. You will be better off with knowing a few of the basics first.
Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish
One of the best books on baking bread on the market.
The book is built much like a textbook, each chapter deals with a different concept of bread baking (the chapter on fermentation alone is worth the read). Despite the no-nonsense approach I still found it to be entertaining and fun to read.
The books give a good basis for everything bread baking related and various types of dough. Ken Forkish delves deeply into the details that other books skip or ignore.
You can learn a lot of formulas here for most of the Artisan bread home bakers likes to bake, and a deep understanding of the science behind baking and the Ingredients we often use. He goes down on the baker’s mathematics, why a recipe is built in one form or another, how to identify mistakes, etc. An added bonus is the Beautiful visual aesthetics of the book.
This should defiantly be one of your first bread baking books.
Dough by Richard Bertinet
This is an excellent book for the novice home baker. It is very practical and explains the basics of dough in a very simple and easy way to understand, accompanied by step-by-step illustrations and an encouraging tone by the author (important!)
The book takes into consideration that most of his readers are beginners bakers and therefore does not require any exotic ingredients so that all recipes can be made in the home kitchen without the hassle of trying to hunt down special flours etc.
If you end up buying this book and you liked it (I know you will ) I strongly recommend you get Bertinets’ next book titled “Crust”, the characteristics of the book “dough” are valid for “Crust” as well and it will take you another step on your journey to understanding the process of baking so you can perfect your Craft.
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
This book by Chad Roberston from the famous La Tartine bakery in San Francisco, one of the best bakeries in the world by far (check out our article on best bread bakeries in the world here), deals with Sourdough bread and has the characteristic of a textbook.
This means that unlike a classic recipe book where you can skim and choose a different recipe each time, the structure of the book is built so that certain concepts and techniques are mentioned in a specific recipe and to implement them you need to read this particular chapter before proceeding to the recipe you wish to make.
The book provides in-depth and detailed explanations of each possible technique, and the recipes themselves are long and detailed. The results are spectacular (and as for equipment, does not require much from the reader). In this case, you will get along just fine if you have a dutch oven and a proofing basket. (check out our recommended products page here for some great buying tips)
If you had a positive experience out of this book you are welcome to continue forward with Tartine Book No.3, But keep in mind that the challenge is bigger, the recipes are more complex and the ingredients are harder to come by at times.
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice By
This book has already been released in its 15th edition and it should tell you something about the classics it has become.
The book is good for both beginners in intermediate bakers and is about master baker Peter Reinhart, who in turn goes to learn from the French master bakers their tricks and methods while teaching pastry students in a culinary college.
The book provides comprehensive theory and practice about everything that is bread. The science behind baking, different types of bread, challah, bagels and so on, different kinds of grains, tips, and techniques on how to fix and improve problematic bread.
This book is not meant to skim through rather be read and studied deeply. If you invest the time in it, it will improve your baking abilities in a noticeable way.
Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread By Emily Buehler
This name says it all: this book explains the science behind the bread. Why does this or that happen? Does it matter what fat you use? How gluten affects the texture of the bread? and much more.
The book answers the questions in depth with diagrams, quotes from important studies, chemical reactions and so on. The beauty is that it does so in a simple language so you do not need a science degree to follow the material.
It is important to understand that this is not a recipe book, although there are recipes in the book, but a deep long explanation about each of the ingredients and steps in the process of preparation of bread and why it behaves as it does.
This is a book for people who have a deep passion for bread and strive to know more. I have to tell you, it sometimes requires more than one reading until all the material sinks in and is understood.
Recommended for experienced bakers and bread enthusiasts who want to know the chemistry behind the art.
The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens By Daniel Wing and Alan Scott
This book provides the theory and science behind bread baking in depth, topics such as hydration ratios, protein content in various proofing temperatures, retardation, and bread flours are covered in detail. It also reveals entertaining stories of bread bakers throughout the country.
The book is pretty technical and “heavy” and doesn’t include any recipes (important to know).
This book also has a how to build a modern optimized wood-fired brick oven for people those who have space and money for it. An interesting read but not always practical none the less.
Suitable for serious bakers and wood-fired oven enthusiasts. Even if you do not plan on building a brick oven this book is still a great read.
Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted and Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, and Fresh Techniques by Peter Reinhart
For those who like to bake healthy bread, I give a warm recommendation for this book by Peter Reinhart who entered the list for the second time ( the first being “The Bakers Apprentice “) with this book that provides 50 formulas and recipes that teach how to get the best out of the grains to maximize their taste in the loaf.
The book deals with whole grain and milling. It contains many recipes with sprouted flours including sprouted gluten-free grain (but with sugar, so anyone who advocates gluten-free and sugar-free may be disappointed).
Each recipe has quite a few options and there is also a list of ingredients (sometimes unconventional) and where you can get them. The book is beautiful and accompanied by high-quality photographs. A must-read book for lovers of healthy bread!
Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own By Andrew Whitley
We continue with the health trend in this book By Andrew Whitley who preaches the benefits of making healthy bread at home instead of buying bread of mass production.
Whitley describes the danger of consuming commercial bread, the massive use of baking enhancers, and the pressure of commercial bakeries to provide bread with the minimal cost at the price of displaying the bread as fresh, although sometimes frozen and heated again, and other disturbing phenomena.
In his book, he teaches in a very practical and easy way how to make real bread at home without yeast, and without added gluten.
The book is intended for anyone who cares about what he/she puts in his mouth. It is fascinating and frightening at the same time. It opens with a kind of manifesto about the history of British mass-produced bread (scary!) and goes on to argue about why you should make bread at home as he shares recipes, techniques, and advice for making healthy bread.
It is recommended for people with dietary constraints and anyone who feels bloated after eating 2 slices of mass-produced bread.
The Bread Bible By Rose Levy Beranbaum
This book, unlike the other books on the list, deals not only with bread but also with pizzas dough, bagel biscuits, crumpets, and even muffins so it would be more accurate to call it the bible of baking and not just of bread.
The book teaches you techniques of substitution, such as substituting different types of flours and their effects on the final product.
It also gives plenty of recipes (150 to be precise).
I must admit that the recipes are way too detailed up to the level that sometimes it seems exaggerated. In general it is not such an easy-to-read book and it is recommended for bakers who already have experience at home and know a thing or two about baking bread, otherwise, the book may feel a little intimidating but those who will push thru and continue reading will find themselves getting better and better with their baking.
Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes By Jeffrey Hamelman
Since its first publication in 2004, this book has earned many fans of both professional and home bakers.
The book is written in a direct, well organized and very in-depth way. There are many enlightening explanations about the chemistry of baking bread. It deals mainly with European bread with a special emphasis on German bread.
You can learn a lot about baking formulas and techniques: mixing, proofing and other basic information that is important to know.
About the recipes: Criticism (fairly right) about the book claims that the recipes are built for professional bakers and less to the home baker and there is some truth to it. I would recommend this book for the experienced home baker, one who already knows how to feel the dough and know how to make the adjustments of mixing time, quantities and so on.
In conclusion, as good as the book is, I have to criticize, not the content, but rather the design. The combination of the colors of the pages and the color of the font in which the text is written makes parts of the book difficult to read (it takes a lot of light) and this is a bit frustrating for every reader in every book ever written.
Up to now, I have covered books in English, but of course, there are excellent classics baking bread books in different languages and I will mention here a few books that can not be ignored and their significance in the baking world is forever sealed.
Dictionnaire universel du pain by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac
This book serves as an encyclopedia for everything related to bread: from the history of bread development in different cultures and countries to the science behind bread, production processes, machines, various types of flours, recipes and more.
But, as opposed to an encyclopedia in which you can open a random page and read, here it is necessary to read continuously and in order. Credit to the author for writing in clear and lamens terms.
Bread lovers will love the book but it is important to say that it is less a guide to the baker and more an of an endless source of information. A must-have in any bakers library.
Pan Casero By Iban Yarza
Iban Yarza is a passionate bread baker with an online following legion that follows him all around the net. (check out his facebook page here)
In the book, he explains in a simple way how to make bread at home. The book is full of recipes and short demo videos that can be scanned through the QR code.
The book covers a wide range of techniques, concepts, ingredients, and guides the reader can follow step by step on the way to the perfect loaf of bread.
His recipes are simple, functional and practical, one that can be prepared in any home kitchen. It explains simple things like how to use your oven more efficiently to get better bread.
He elaborates on important concepts – for example, an entire chapter on fermentation, very usufull the beginner baker.
I would just like to mention a few books here below that helped my father out when he started baking. I’m not going to get into details about each one. Just know that these are great books with tons of information and are geared for serious and professional bakers.
Important to mention these books are very difficult to come by so if you have a chance to buy them do so. I will have photographs of these books as their titles are similar and the photos will make it easier to know what to look for.
1. Special and Decorative Breads by Roland Bilheus, Alain Escoffier, Daniel Herve, Jean-Marie Pouradier – there are a few books in this series.
2. Special and Decorative Breads by Alain Couet and Eric Kayser
There are obviously many great books out there. This was my list of the books you should have in your library. Do you think I missed something? If so, let me know which book helped you on your baking journey in the comments section. I am always happy to keep up to date on new books and the experiences and insights of my readers.