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Best Overall: "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" at Amazon
All the recipes are accompanied by a commentary on the side that further guides the baker.
Best for Beginners: "Flour Water Salt Yeast" at Amazon
This comprehensive collection of bread and pizza recipes will keep you thoroughly engaged.
Best for Bread Machines: "The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook" at Amazon
The recipes work for a wide range of machines with tips from the author on adjustments and more.
Best Sourdough: "Tartine Bread" at Amazon
The illustrated recipe for the basic country bread makes it very easy to follow the process.
Best Whole Grain: "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads" at Amazon
The book has 55 small-batch formulas and is interspersed with FAQs.
Best for Experienced Bakers: "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" at Amazon
There are diagrams and instructions for shaping loaves, scoring, braiding, and other techniques.
Best Gluten-Free: "Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" at Amazon
The book lists out equipment you will need, types of gluten-free flours you can use, and how to make your own master flour recipe.
Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine: "The Gluten-Free Bread Machine Cookbook" at Amazon
Whether you want to make hot dog buns or a sandwich bread or want to have a pizza night, this has you covered with 175 recipes.
Best Flatbreads: "Flatbreads & Flavors" at Amazon
If you have been looking to venture out and travel around the world through bread baking, this is a book that will take you places.
This is an engaging, informative, and detailed book that details the process of working with a variety of freshly milled grains.
There are very few aromas that stir the appetite like the smell of freshly baked bread. Fewer still invoke such intense craving and memories. The whiff of fresh bread does it all. You may just be starting your baking journey, or you may have mastered the basics and are looking for new challenges. Maybe you follow a gluten-free diet and you've been missing that perfect baguette? Regardless of where you are on your journey, this list of bread-baking cookbooks will help you enjoy the bread-baking process.
Below, the best bread cookbooks.
Best Overall: The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Detailed tips and techniques for success
Recipes are in volume and weight
Peter Reinhart is a distinguished teacher who is passionate about bread baking. He has written ten books dedicated to the topic and has decades of experience teaching students. This book is divided into sections focused on techniques and recipes. The technique section conversationally takes you on a journey through the science of bread baking, explaining different kinds of yeasts, the importance of delayed fermentation, and the 12 stages of bread.
The recipe section not only has the quintessential French loaves but also varieties of sourdough as well as challah, sticky buns, cornbread, rye, focaccia, and Reinhart's famous pain à l’ancienne. All the recipes are accompanied by commentary that further guides bakers.
Pages: 336 | Recipes: 66 | Published: 2016
Best for Beginners: Flour Water Salt Yeast
Timelines for bread baking
Levain waste in sourdough recipes
"Flour Water Salt Yeast" features a comprehensive collection of bread and pizza recipes that keeps you thoroughly engaged. The book is written with the home baker in mind, and the recipe instructions are precise and clear. Whether you want to make a boule or a Neapolitan-style pizza, the step-by-step instructions make it easy to follow.
Ken Forkish helps beginner bakers understand baker’s percentages and creates a workable timeline for making bread. Throughout the book, he explains the reasoning behind tips like using warm water, folding dough, and fermenting in the refrigerator. This is not simply a recipe book; it's a thorough introduction to bread baking, helping anyone make exceptional loaves at home.
Pages: 272 | Recipes: 42 | Published: 2012
Best for Bread Machines: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook
Recipes for American and international breads
Helpful commentary throughout the book
Measurements in volume
A bread machine is an incredibly versatile tool in your kitchen. Just load the machine with ingredients, set it, and walk away. A few hours later, you'll have a warm, freshly baked loaf of bread.
With 300 recipes for making great breads ranging from white breads, whole-grain, quick breads, sourdough, buns, and rolls, "The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook" will keep you and your bread machine busy. The recipes work for a wide range of bread machines with tips from the author on individual machines, high-altitude adjustment, information about various flours, and tips on troubleshooting in case a bread doesn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.
Pages: 643 | Recipes: More than 300 | Published: 2000
Best Sourdough: Tartine Bread
Illustrated master sourdough recipe
In-depth explanations on fermentation
Master sourdough recipe results in a lot of discard
The spirit and purpose of sourdough bread-making come through in all pages of "Tartine Bread." Outlined with Chad Robertson’s personal experiences baking sourdough, the book has a reassuring and encouraging tone that's complemented with artistic and useful photos. The illustrated recipe for the basic country bread makes it very easy to follow the process.
If you want to learn or perfect your sourdough bread, this is the book for you. Each step of the sourdough-making process is told in great detail. The book excels at explaining the alternative way of managing fermentation and how any variance in it greatly affects the outcome. This a great resource to create a tangy, open-crumb, blistered-crust loaf of bread in your home kitchen.
Pages: 304 | Recipes: 70 | Published: 2010
Best Whole-Grain Breads: Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads
Small batch yields
Recipes run into multiple pages
If baking breads with whole grains is your goal, then "Whole Grain Breads" is the book to get you started on the journey. The book has 55 small-batch formulas and is interspersed with FAQs that help answer questions about the recipe and the process.
With choices ranging from the foundational whole wheat sandwich loaf, rye sandwich meteil, whole wheat challah, and focaccia to flatbreads like pita and roti, the book covers a wide range of breads. For whole-grain lovers, this is a book that keeps you interested in the science of baking with delicious results.
Pages: 309 | Recipes: 55 | Published: 2007
Best for Experienced Bakers: Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
Practical tips and instructions
Light font is difficult to read
Jeffrey Hamelman is a certified master baker, and he shares his mastery of bread baking through the aptly named "Bread." With 150 recipes (out of which 40 are for sourdough), Bread is a comprehensive book of techniques and formulas that lays out the steps for making perfect bread. Hamelman shares his expertise, and there is a lot of guidance, such as diagrams and instructions for shaping loaves, scoring, and braiding. The book is like a technical manual for bakers wanting to master all aspects of bread making. The third edition of the cookbook was published in 2021.
Pages: 496 | Recipes: 150 | Published: 2021
Best Gluten-Free: Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Variety of bead recipes
Fast and easy method
Initial cost of ingredients can get pricey
Eating gluten-free doesn’t have to mean you can’t have bread or that you have to shell out a hefty sum to buy gluten-free breads from the store. This book helps you make gluten-free breads at home with 90 recipes. The book lists out the equipment you will need, types of gluten-free flours you can use, and how to make your own master flour recipe. Whether it's flatbread, sandwich bread, or a crusty loaf, there is a lot of gluten-free bread to be made and had.
Pages: 304 | Recipes: 90 | Published: 2014
Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine: The Gluten-Free Bread Machine Cookbook
Contains two master flour blend recipes
Tips for high-altitude baking
Very few photos
Indulging in gluten-free bread eating and letting a bread machine do the majority of the work for you is quite possible. Irrespective of what bread machine you own, Jane Bonacci and Shannon Kinsella’s "The Gluten-Free Bread Machine Cookbook" is an educational and inspiring book. Whether you want to make hot dog buns or a sandwich bread, or you want to have a pizza night, the book has you covered with 175 recipes.
In addition to the varied and practical recipes, there is advice on baking with gluten-free flours, troubleshooting help, high-altitude adjustment guidelines, and the role of each ingredient is explained in recipe headnotes.
Pages: 384 | Recipes: 175 | Published: 2016
Best Flatbreads: Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker's Atlas
Diverse breads from many cultures
Contains additional recipes for accompaniments
Not many photos
Ingredient measures are only in volume
Bread is one of the ancient foods and is a staple in many cultures. The texture and process of making bread vary from place to place, and each bread has a unique history. In this book, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid share flatbreads from around the world. If you have been looking to venture out through bread baking, this is a book that will take you places.
There are 60 recipes for flatbreads covering the Armenian matnakash, Uighur and Afghan naans, Ethiopian injera, Mediterranean pita, chappati of the Indian subcontinent, French fougasse, and more.
Pages: 464 | Recipes: 50 bread, 150 accompaniments | Published: 2008
Best New Release: Mastering Bread: The Art and Practice of Handmade Sourdough, Yeast Bread, and Pastry
Focuses on freshly milled grains
Contains recipes for leftover bread
Chapters organized by difficulty level
May get pricey to source flours
The authors, Marc Vetri, Claire Kopp McWilliams, and David Joachim, have poured in decades of knowledge about grains and bread baking into "Mastering Bread." The book focuses on freshly milled whole grains and the recipes mostly use bolted hard wheat (high extraction) flour. The recipes are detailed, progress from easy to more difficult, and have illustrations and tips. Interspersed with photographs, the book features some well-known breads, like focaccia, bagels, English muffins, and baguettes, and also features cakes, scones, and the Panettone alla Vetri.
Pages: 304 | Recipes: More than 70 | Published: 2020
What to Look For in Bread Cookbooks
Recipes Written Using Weights
In bread baking, all ingredients are regarded as a ratio to the total flour used or the total flour weight. The rest of the ingredients are a percentage against those digits. Using the Baker’s percentage, measuring things by weight is more accurate than volume and it allows for more control of the final outcome and leaves a lot of room for creativity. Scaling recipes up or down is also accurate with a recipe using weights.
Why and How
A book that explains the scientific reasons behind the instructions and showcases technique will help you expand on your bread baking knowledge.
Headnotes or commentary helps you get to know the recipe before you attempt to make it. This is where you will find substitutions or vital clues about how the final outcome is going to look or taste like.
Glossaries/Resources and Indexes
A good index is like a key that opens all the locks to a book. It saves time when you are looking for a specific ingredient or recipe. The additional material and resources are helpful in procuring ingredients or learning about equipment used.
A comfortable to read typeset allows you to read the recipe or follow directions without having to turn pages using messy hands.
How can I get into bread making?
Bread making has increased in popularity recently. If you want to join this tasty trend, there are a number of ways to learn. First and foremost, of course, there are bread cookbooks. Cookbooks are fantastic for learning since they offer step-by-step instructions, pictures, and sometimes even extra tips and tricks or measurement conversion tables.
There are also online video tutorials and recipe blogs. While some people prefer the visual and audio aspect of video tutorials, others don’t like the constant pausing while they follow along. Cookbooks are a nice alternative for people who want to go at their own pace.
What tools do I need to get started?
If you’re serious about bread making, it’s worth investing in good tools. Classic bread-making items include a bench scraper for cutting and shaping dough, a lame for scoring and decoration, mixing bowls, a proofing basket (also known as a banneton), a rolling pin, a wooden spoon, and various sizes of loaf pans.
What are bread-making mistakes to avoid?
As with any skill, there are mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Here are a few common errors in bread making:
- Under-proofing: You need to let the dough rest long enough to create air bubbles.
- Over-proofing: Resting the dough for too long will make all the air bubbles pop.
- Incorrect measurements: Bread making is a science and requires accurate measurements in order to work properly.
- Not covering the dough: Prolonged exposure to air will lead to a film on the dough.
- Opening the oven during baking: This will release the heat and result in a soft crust and unrisen bread.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
As a chef instructor, teaching people to cook delicious and healthy food from scratch is one of Renu Dhar's passions. She believes in equipping people with proper techniques and providing them with the right information to make cooking a joy. She has a keen interest in the anthropology of food, cookbooks, and food as medicine.
Allison Wignall, who updated this article, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. She’s always in the kitchen trying to recreate recipes from around the world. Her work has been featured in publications such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.