If you are going to be doing some baking, you’ll probably want a few reference materials. I am an avid cookbook collector. You can see my wish lists from 2019 and 2020 to get an idea of a few favorites from my own collection. However, for baking you will want books that are focused on the specifics, not just any fun cookbook. So here are my selections for the best cookbooks for baking.
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Baking Books for Beginners
Start here for the absolute essentials. These are the books that will teach you from top to bottom how to bake anything. Think of these as your baking reference guides. You can keep going back to these books when you need to learn absolutely every detail about baking techniques.
The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell
I started following Erin on Instagram years ago, and have always been impressed with her gorgeous baked goods. Not only that, but she has an amazing ability to explain complicated processes in an easy-to-understand way.
One of my go-to resources for baking is Food52, and I love their compilation cookbooks, like this one, which feature recipes from many different chefs. This book is filled with easy and reliable recipes, perfect for anyone who just wants to bake something.
In addition to making super tasty ingredients, some of the most-renowned flours, and having a hotline you can call with baking emergency questions, King Arthur Flour has this book. It’s pretty much the encyclopedia of all things baking. It’s full of recipes, but will also teach you the concepts you need to bake perfectly every time.
The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
If you are looking for one book that will tell you everything, it’s this one. The level of detail in the recipes included is fool-proof, and includes plenty of tips for beginners. Plus, it’s huge, at almost 600 pages. The digital version of this book is free with an AmazonPrime subscription. If you don’t have one already, sign up for a free trial!
Getting a Little Adventurous
When you’re ready for a little more interesting and different, move on to these selections. These books can be used by beginners, but the techniques, ingredient combinations, and creativity are a step above the basics.
Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson
Joy the Baker is the first food blog I ever really became obsessed with, and this book is one of the first cookbooks I bought for myself. I love her easy-going approach, and love for all things brown butter. This book has some of my favorite recipes still, even though the pages are stained and bent!
Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore
Every time I make a recipe out of this book, everyone raves about it. These 100 hand-selected recipes showcase the best of the best when it comes to desserts. Plus, it’s full of tips and tricks, riffs on the classics, and mini recipes. You can open to any page and find something to make tonight!
The Artful Baker by Cenk Sonmezsoy
This book is gorgeous. Every picture looks like a dessert that should exist in your dreams. But this book is written by a home baker, so you know he thought of all of us when writing the instructions. They are so detailed, with tons of information. It’s a book you can reach for to bake, or leave out on the coffee table.
BraveTart by Stella Parks
I’ll admit, I don’t own this one yet, but it’s definitely on my wish list! This book is filled cover-to-cover with classic favorites. But it also includes variations so you can riff on your own. Plus there’s tons of information on the history and backstories of your favorite treats. Eat something sweet, and learn something new!
Best Books for Baking Bread
If you want to focus on baking bread or working with yeast, try one of these books. From standard baker’s yeast to raising your own sourdough starter, you will be a bread master after working through these selections.
My Bread by Jim Lahey
If you are totally new to making bread, and are super intimidated by the whole thing, start here. The no-knead bread making method in this book teaches you how to make delicious bread without too much effort. Instead it focuses on waiting time, which is perfect when you’re busy baking everything else!
Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish
If you want to get the basics of different types of bread, this is the book that will teach you it all. You can find a recipe here that suits your personal skill level and schedule easily. Plus you can learn the basics of growing your own sourdough starter.
Toast & Jam by Sarah Owens
For something fun and different, check out this book. It not only includes some really unique artisan bread recipes, but also accompaniments. So you can have fresh homemade bread, topped with fresh homemade jam. Plus this book is so gorgeous, you’ll want to make everything!
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
Learn how to make true San Francisco sourdough, straight from the source with this book. The recipe for this famous bread is so in-depth, with tons of step-by-step photos. You can also learn how to make your own variations, and some fun recipes for using up any extra bread!
Bake absolutely anything with these 20 incredible cookbooks, perfect for home bakers!
Just for Fun
Get a little fun with these books full of interesting, unique, or specialized recipes. Do you want to focus on ideas for cupcakes or cookies? Or maybe you want to get really out there with something crazy. Either way, you’ll find a recipe in one of these books.
500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connelly
I went through a phase where I pretty much only baked cupcakes. While I’ve expanded my repertoire a bit, I referenced this book a ton for flavor ideas. They range from traditional to adventurous, and you’re sure to find one you love. It’s targeted to beginners, but even experienced bakers will find inspiration here.
Sally’s Cookie Addiction by Sally McKenney
Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi
I love that this book focuses on seasonal produce, because that’s one of my favorite things to bake with. However, it’s not just the basics. You’ll find recipes for your favorite fruits like raspberries and apricots, but you’ll also get quince and rhubarb treats. My go-to pie crust comes from this book, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser!
Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi
This book is filled with fun and creative recipes, and is definitely for the baker looking for an adventure. Although the recipes are based on ten simple concepts, the ingredients used are specialized and unique. If you are searching for recipes that are decadent and complex, this is your book.
No cookbook collection is ever complete! If there’s extra space in your library, you might as well fill it with something totally new. Here are some new releases for the next couple months that should add even more depth to all of our baking. I’m excited to flip through these!
Everyone Can Bake by Dominique Ansel
The author of this book invented the Cronut, so you know we’ll be getting some fun recipes! I am interested to learn the techniques of this pastry chef, and discover his building blocks of baking. The recipes promise to be versatile and interesting, but also can become quick go-to’s.
New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford
If you’ve jumped on the sourdough craze (I tried last year!) then you are probably filling your library with lots of cookbooks all about naturally leavened bread. This one intrigues me because it promises some unique ways to use your sourdough starter. It sounds like exactly what any new bread baker needs to get started with sourdough.
Blooms & Baking by Amy Ho
I am totally intrigued by this book, which focuses on using flavors from flowers in baked goods. Everything on Amy’s blog, Constellation Inspiration, is so bright and whimsical, so I expect this book to be filled with plenty of stunning photos. I am looking forward to unique twists using ingredients like chamomile and rose.
Wholefood Simply by Bianca Slade
Give me a delicious baked good and then tell me it’s secretly healthy, and you’ve got me hooked. That’s why I love the idea of this book, which creates decadent treats using whole ingredients. Plus the recipes included are allergy-friendly, which is perfect if you have limitations or cook for someone who does.