12 Best Bread Baking Books For 2023

The 12 Best Bread Baking Books
Published on
28 July 2020
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

If you are looking for a beginner bread baking book or maybe an advanced baker looking for the best bread baking books to improve your skills, enjoy this review guide! Whilst it’s popular to learn skills like bread baking through YouTube and baking websites, the front to back exploration of a baker’s philosophy that you get from reading a book takes your education to the next level.

Buying loads of these books will cost a lot, and if money doesn’t bug you, the time spent searching for the right baking book for you will! The ones in this list are written by bread baking masters from across the world, their thoughts and recipes are respected throughout the industry.

What I’ve tried to do is describe who each book is for. Some are easy to grab, get started, and make something. Some concentrate on the philosophy of a baking style. And then there are baking books that focus on the scientific side of bread. This will invariably frustrate a beginner baker, whilst likely the missing instrument in achieving consistency and producing new flavours for more advanced bakers.

No matter what stage you are at you will learn something new from each of these 12 books about bread! It’s been really hard choosing the order, if you’ve read them and agree, or disagree, let me know in the comments!

1) The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – Peter Reinhart

There are some books that you just can’t put down! For this reason, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was read in record-breaking time! Regularly dubbed “The Bread Bible”, this bread baking book is written by legendary bread “guru”, Peter Reinhart. In this cleverly written book, he manages to captivate and drag you in with his storytelling on his search for the world’s best bread.

Peter goes into detail at each pinch point, without sounding too scientific. You’ve got shaping techniques (loads of them), a chapter on the differences in flour, every stage of bread making broken down, and full-size tables on hydration and mixing methods for just about every bread you can think of…. It’s not a quick read, but a hugely satisfying one! There is a huge collection of bread recipes. They are properly calculated and extremely well written, although I’ve not tried as many as I should have. The ones I have turned out great!

This baking book is for someone who wants to be totally immersed in learning how to make beautiful bread. You don’t necessarily need any previous baking experience to read it (the techniques are broken down into beautifully simple steps), but it’s not a pick-up-and-go cookbook.

View The Bread Baker’s Apprentice on Amazon

2) Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread – Emily Buehler

Emily Bruehler’s, Bread Science, breaks down the bread-making process to a higher level than any other book. It’s not as technical as my guide on the bread fermentation process, but it’s written in a really digestible way. Any baker will make better bread and be more confident to approach new recipes after reading this book. What I really love is she shares alternate opinions (scientists don’t agree on everything) to allow you to make your own opinions.

If you have some experience in baking bread and wish to learn the science behind it then Bread Science is a fantastic read. If you have never baked bread before this book will probably alienate you (unless science is another hobby!).

View Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread on Amazon

3) Dough – Richard Bertinet

This isn’t the best bread baking book, but it is the best bread baking book for a beginner. It’s a fantastic book to get started and despite it being simple, still offers many interesting recipes and styles. There is a run-through on the ingredients and equipment used in bread baking at the start before some basic techniques and several recipes follow. I must admit I’ve “borrowed” a few of these recipes before! The bacon and cheese slices would often not make it to my bakeries customers, they were too delicious to share!

The recipes are built around one dough for each group of recipes. You then add extra ingredients or alternative production methods to turn the same base ingredients into different types of bread. It’s that same approach that professional bakeries use to prepare bread in their bakeries. The bread I have made from following these recipes has always been top-notch. 

If you are looking to take up bread baking as a hobby and want reliable recipes from a professional tutor, Dough is the first book you should get.

View Dough on Amazon

4) Tartine Bread – Chad Robertson

This book along with a YouTube video propelled Chard Robertson and his San Francisco bakery to worldwide acclaim. The Tartine baking method that makes Chards’ iconic country sourdough bread is explained in detail here.

The book is unique in that it doesn’t have the same structure as other baking books. There is no how-to bake info, followed by recipes… etc. Instead, we kick off by learning about Chad’s life and how he got into bread, and then discover how it took years of practice to perfect his perfect sourdough recipe. Moving on, we learn the basic country sourdough recipe over a short course of 35 pages. Yes! 35 pages for one recipe!! It really teaches you everything about the Tartine method for you to make replica loaves at home. 

Following the main recipe, there are more recipes, but shorter this time. Plenty of snazzy, surfer-style snaps supplement the pages alongside loads of gorgeous bread photos!

The Tartine Bread book divides opinion. It does well to build the bakery as a brand, and it’s thorough in the information it shares. You’ll become an expert in the Tartine method, and most likely admire Chad and his methods. But if you want to learn to make several types of bread, the science of bread making or troubleshooting tips, this can’t be your only baking book.

This book is for you if you have some baking experience and want to master this special baking style.

View Tartine Bread on Amazon

5) The Taste Of Bread – Raymond Calvel

I just keep reading The Taste Of Bread and learning something new! I’ve not even read every page, nor tried many recipes, but despite its high price I feel it’s a bargain! I’ve read many chapters multiple times and constantly use it as a reference point. It is the “thing” that has made the biggest difference to my skills, thoughts and inspiration than anything else I’ve read or watched.

From the first page, you are hit with some of the most fascinating baking insights that I have ever read. Not only is the content so useful, it’s abrupt as well. There’s little waffle or side stories in this book, just a constant drive to make fantastic bread stemming from the author.

Raymond Calvel takes every element of bread production and breaks down what is actually going on. He compares classical baking methods to the high intensity, high-speed commercial bread that we see on supermarket shelves today. What I like is that he clearly prefers the traditional methods, however, explains why modern techniques work and how they can still be used (with a bit of love) to make fantastic bread, and when they shouldn’t.

This is not a beginner book. It is quite draining to read, probably due to it being translated from French. I find myself re-reading sentences to make sure I absorb the information in the way it was meant to be interpreted. It’s not broken down into sections as well as Bread Science. However, something that I have learned by writing on this website is that any change in bread baking alters other areas, so it is hard to keep topics within topics.

This book is aimed at experienced bakers who want to maximise their bread quality. The recipes at the end of the book are fantastically straightforward, but a lack of clear guidelines means this book isn’t suited to beginners. There are several variations for each bread recipe depending on how long you have to make it and the ingredients or baking style you wish to use. It’s so fantastic that any bread fanatic should own this book.

View The Taste Of Bread on Amazon

6) Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza – Ken Forkish

Flour Water Salt Yeast is broken into four sections; The Principles of Artisan Bread, Basic Bread Recipes, Levain Bread Recipes, and Pizza Recipes. Inside, you’re taken on a bread baking journey from start to finish. Similar to The Bread Bakers Apprentice, you’ll learn the theory behind the recipes before taking them on. The recipes are built using baker’s formulas, so the decimal accuracy can be quite scary for the weekend baker. The sourdough starter recipe calls for a massive amount of flour to be used which has caused many frowns from bakers who can’t stand the waste!

The step-by-step tutorials are extremely thorough and clear, nothing is missed out. There are pages and pages of information that are knitted together in a very readable way. Every baker takes something from this bread baking book, which is why it’s comfortably on this list.

This book is for beginners to intermediate bakers who wish to integrate themselves into all the steps of making bread.

View Flour Water Salt Yeast on Amazon

7) How to make sourdough – Emmanuel Hadjiandreou

If you want to make sourdough, there are plenty of books that can teach you. The How To Make Sourdough book begins by sharing the basics. Emmanuel shares everything you need to get started in sourdough baking. To be clear, it doesn’t contain loads of troubleshooting or extra baking theory about fermentation or suchlike. But if you just follow his recipes, you can easily get make sourdough for the first time without any stress.

There are some fantastic photographs inside demonstrating techniques such as kneading, shaping and cutting the bread. Emmanuel is a leading bread baking tutor in the UK with roles in The School Of Artisan Food and Bread Ahead baking schools.

View How To Make Sourdough on Amazon

8) How To Bake – Paul Hollywood

Paul has got a bit of an odd reputation in the UK. His onscreen persona seems to be more well-regarded than his baking skills. But he’s the baker that sells to Harrods, he really knows his stuff and this book proves that!

A guide on the basics of bread making, followed by loads and loads of recipes to try. All the basic British and European bread recipes are included, as well as recipes for sweets and pastries.

The majority of his recipes seemed to be scaled-back versions of the true thing, tweaked for the home part-time baker. What I like about this book is that step by step detail is given when needed, but when keeping it simple is required, Paul does just that.

It’s a good book that can be used by anyone to get started with baking bread. If you want to learn more professional baking tips however, choose another bread baking book

View How To Bake on Amazon

9) Wholegrain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor – Peter Reinhart

You know when someone is special when they have two books in the top ten, but actually, I debated adding his Crust & Crumb book too! Peter Reinhart expands his use of soakers and cool fermentation in this book to provide several fantastic recipes for making bread at home with whole grains. 

For bakers who specialise in home-ground flour and healthy, whole-grain bread, this is the book that sets the benchmark for others to follow. A truly fantastic collection of recipes and ideas to make fantastic bread.

It’s not a beginner book, yet Peter Reinhart has a way of re-educating the reader on bread without feeling patronising or boring. A fantastic read with an incredible selection of recipes. One of the very best baking books we will ever see.

View Wholegrain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor on Amazon

10) The Bread Bible – Rose Levy Beranbaum

You really get a sense that Rose Levy Beranbaum wants to help you with her thorough tutorials on how to make bread. Follow her recipes, and you will make some really tremendous bread. The Bread Bible starts with 66 pages detailing the ten steps of the bread-making process, followed by her 150 bread recipes. Using Roses’ recipes you’ll find it hard to go wrong, they are so thoughtfully put together.

Plenty of troubleshooting tips and information on how to get the best from your bread is listed at the start of each recipe, this is a book that lives up to its name.

It would be further up the list if it was a little easier to read, there are so many references and links to material that it gets hard to enjoy. There are no pictures but the illustrations (of which there are plenty) are excellent. The Bread Bible gives off the same vibe as the St-Michaels cookbooks my Mum kept from the ’80s -if you can relate?

View The Bread Bible on Amazon

11) Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own – Andrew Whitley

This book is for people who love bread and making bread. It is a bit of an oddball, Andrew speaks about the state of modern baking and what he believes we should do to fix it. Mr Whitley is a founder of the Real Bread Campaign which supports artisan bread producers in their success and lobbies for clearer definitions of artisan vs commercially made bread. 

After Bread Matters sets the scene, we are then introduced to the bread recipes. This is a really important book for bread lovers and the recipes are great. You will want some experience in baking before undertaking them though as there are no illustrations demonstrating the steps taken, yet there are multiple tips throughout in breakout boxes.

This book is for bakers that are confident in basic bread baking techniques, looking to try something new and understand a new style of preparing bread.

View Bread Matters: Why And How To Make Your Own on Amazon

12) Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook – Bread Ahead Bakery

The Bread Ahead school is one of the major baking schools in the UK, based in London’s famous Borough Market. They made those big doughnuts where the filling pours out from the hole synonymous with their brand. Much as I love the things that they do, a reissue to tidy up this book would be really helpful. The timings in the recipes are sometimes hard to follow and there isn’t as much detail compared with the other books on this list around the science of bread making.

There are a few contrasting views without any reasoning to back them up. For example, “A bread dough at a temperature of 10-24C is a perfect place for yeast to become active” which is not perfect for yeast activity. Yeast prefers a warmer temperature, and so do the enzymes inside the dough. So “Why Bread Ahead, Why?” That said, there are many fantastic photos and if you follow the instructions provided you will learn how to make some tasty bread, no doubt about that.

There is a conscious effort made to teach new bakers how to make bread in the same way as top artisan bakers. This may, or may not be what you are looking to achieve. The recipes are focused on taking a beginner baker to be as good as a professional in a short time span. So if you are ready to take this step, you’ll find this book really helpful.

View Baking School: The Bread Ahead Cookbook – Bread Ahead Bakery on Amazon

Which bread baking book is right for you?

Let’s be honest not everyone buys a book to read, some of us just like to display it on the bookshelf just to impress our visitors! But here is my top pick for beginner, intermediate and advanced bread books:

Best Beginner bread baking book

For this I would choose “Dough by Richard Bertinet“, it’s simple and really accessible, yet the recipes are of a fantastic calibre. A nice mix of recipes and you’ll be ready to get started with your first loaf pretty much straight away.

Best Intermediate bread baking book

It’s got to be “Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart“, it really takes you on a story of bread, you’ll feel motivated by reading it and learn loads about baking bread. This was closely followed by Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, there is not much in it!

Best sourdough baking book

This honour falls to Tartine by Chad Robertson. By reading this you will learn everything you need to get started with sourdough. Once you’ve mastered his country recipe you’ll be confident to tackle any other recipe you wish.

Best Advanced bread baking book

Bread Science by Emily Buehler is the best advanced baking book. The Taste Of Bread despite being my favourite, comes a close second for overall appeal.

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