After 2 decades of professional baking and a lifetime of cooking, I have accumulated a lot of cookbooks! I have cookbooks from every region of the world, both savory and sweet, and countless books on chocolate, cake decorating, and bread baking. I want to share with you my favorites – the books that I turn to time and time again not only because I use them as a professional reference but because they have wonderful recipes that I enjoy making and tips that actually work! Here are 10 books that I would not want to be without as a baker.
Mastering The Art of French Pastry
My mother bought this book for me at a book fair for $1! She had no idea what a treasure she had found! This book was originally published in 1984 and contains classic techniques that will help you master some of France’s most iconic pastries.
The Professional Pastry Chef
Despite the title, you don’t need to be a professional to find this reference incredibly useful. Beautiful color photographs and expert instructions help you to master even the most difficult items. A great book to push yourself to the next level.
This book is expensive, no doubt about it. I would recommend this book for those who have a firm understanding of the main techniques of pastry making and want to advance to a higher lever of proficiency.
Paris Boulangerie Patisserie
One of my favorite books! The recipes are fabulous and the photographs of Paris bakeries will make you weak in the knees.
Nancy Silverton’s Breads from La Brea Bakery
Nancy changed the way I bake, particularly sourdough bread. Her method for creating a true starter is one I have used for years and her recipes are concise and detailed at the same time. I would never be without this book!
Dan Leader tells his story about building his first brick oven to visiting wheat farmers in the midwest on his search for the highest quality ingredients. His wonderful recipes are included.
The Village Baker
Profiles of several European and American village bakers with their traditional recipes and methods. Many varieties of techniques are used to give you a well rounded understanding of traditional bread baking.
Crust and Crumb
Peter Reinhart gives detailed advice and demystifies the art of baking beautiful bread. This book is designed to give professional results to the home baker.
Baking: The Art and the Science
If you’re interested in how it all actually works (and you should be!), this is an excellent reference book to have. This troubleshooting guide explains various problems and how to remedy them. Lots of color photographs detail any problem you might encounter.
Clementine in the Kitchen
Although this is not a baking book, this story should inspire everyone to spend more time in the kitchen. My grandmother gave me this book and I fell in love with the story in the first few pages This is a charming tale (based on a true story) about a little French cook who taught an American family how to appreciate French food during the 1930’s. Recipes are included.