First, please know that you don’t need a cookbook in order to learn bread baking. As with most things, the best way. to start is to… start. And if that’s the route you’d like to take, I’ll recommend this very basic bread recipe, which will get you familiar with the bread baking process and working with yeast.
Having said that, cookbooks are a lovely addition to your kitchen, make great gifts, and introduce you to new recipes you might never have discovered on your own.
The Best Bread Cookbooks
My number one pick:
My favorite bread cookbook of all time, for any level, is the decades-old classic, Bread Machine Magic. If you don’t use a bread machine, you’ll. still love this book. (It’s extremely easy to adapt any of the recipes simply by kneading and shaping by hand; the ingredients stay the same.)
Every recipe I’ve tried has been a winner.
A good bread book for beginners can be hard to find if you get the wrong one. You. want something that doesn’t read like a scientific textbook or include a lot of theory. These books have clearly written recipes, step-by-step photos, and no complicated technique.
- Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: This is a great choice for people who feel that they don’t have the time or skill to bake bread. It focuses on a simple, beginner-friendly technique and starts at the very beginning. You will need to buy a few tools (a dutch oven and proofing container) for this method, but it’s easy.
- Taste of Home: Breads: When you just want recipes for classic, yeasted breads, this is a great choice. One hundred of the most popular bread recipes on tasteofhome.com have been compiled into one beautiful book that’ll have you baking up a storm in no time! From making your own dough to adding ingredients like berries and seeds, there’s something here for everyone who loves fresh baked goods at home. If artisan style and long rise times aren’t really your things, you’ll love the variety and classic appeal of these recipes.
Books for all levels:
These books are approachable and practical, and help bridge the gap between beginner and advanced.
- Artisan Bread Every Day by Peter Reinhart: Reinhart begins with the simplest French bread, then moves on to familiar classics such as ciabatta and pizza dough. He concludes his book by providing recipes for fresh specialty items like pretzels or bagels that are perfect if you’re looking to move beyond loaves. Most of these doughs require only a few ingredients and rely on “low-knead” techniques, making them hands-off and easy to work into a busy schedule. You’ll enjoy this book for the variety of recipes, the lack of technical mumbo-jumbo, and the fact that everything in this book feels realistic and doable.
- Paul Hollywood’s Bread: The new baking book from Paul Hollywood is a comprehensive guide to all things bread. Not only does he teach you how to make delicious, foolproof recipes but also provides yo with a variety of spin-off recipes for each one so you can create an amazing meal out of it. I love this book because even though Paul is obviously an advanced bread master, he doesn’t overwhelm you with weird technical stuff.
If you want to learn more about bread’s natural leavening process, a sourdough book is going to be your friend. These books focus on baking with wild yeast and exploring the flavor of naturally risen breads that only get better with age.
- Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa: From the author of the popular food blog The Clever Carrot, this book takes you from sourdough newbie to pro. I love the clear, easy-to-follow instructions and helpful troubleshooting tips. You’ll learn how to make your very own sourdough starter before moving on to recipes for classic sourdough breads, cinnamon rolls, braided challah, bagels, focaccia and more!
- Sourdough Every Day by Hannah Delacruz: Sourdough lovers will have a blast trying out these inventive recipes, which show readers how they can use their active starter to make all sorts of baked goods. From traditional loaves and pastries; pretzels crackers breads like rolls- even desserts! Self-taught baker Hannah shares rustic loaf recipes perfected in her home kitchen.
Advanced bread baking books
These books are great if you’re ready to take on the world of specialty bread baking.
- The Italian Baker by Carol Field: This book is the perfect resource for any aspiring Italian baker. With recipes that range from breadsticks and cornetti to focaccia, it has something everyone will love. It’s recently been updated to include new photography and weight measurements. Italian bread with its high hydration is not the best choice for beginners, but an experienced baker will love and appreciate everything this cookbook offers.
- Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson: While this book is not exactly my style (I prefer recipes, and this book is more like a textbook), serious bakers adore this book and I had to include it. The author has opinions about the right and wrong way to make bread, and this book teaches his specific method, which I’ve found hard to master. That being said, I come back to it every year, trying to learn more.
- Mooncakes and Milk Bread by Christina Cho: What’s not to love? This book is chock-full of the sweet and savory baked goods from the author’s Chinese culture. If you love soft and tender breads, you will love this cookbook. There’s an emphasis on milk breads, which are delightfully fluffy and especially popular with kids.
More book recommendations:
- Bread bakers and canners are often the same people. If you’re into food preservation, check out my list of the best canning cookbooks.
- Interested in homesteading? You’ll find a book you’ll love in this collection of self-sufficiency books.
- And if soap making seems interesting you, you’ll find a soap making book here that’s right up your alley.
The best bread baking cookbooks will be different for beginners and experienced bakers. Beginners should focus on simple yeast-based recipes with step-by-step instructions. If you’re more experienced, branch out to some of the sciencey nerd books or turn your attention to specialty breads or sourdough. And don’t forget, if you don’t want to buy a book, experience is the very best teacher of all.