Below are some of my recommended books for bread bakers of various levels.
JEFFREY HAMELMAN’S BREAD
Curious about those recipes taken from the book Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman?
Here’s where I got all those recipes plus a ton of amazing info on bread baking technique. Much, much more than just a collection of recipes, it’s a thorough and detailed bread baking course in your own hands. And now there is the new and updated 2nd Edition available! It contains 30+ new recipes, updates to many of the previous recipes, expanded educational section and new illustrations & photos.
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Jeffrey Hamelman is an award winning Certified Master Baker with more than 30 years experience and the Director of both the Baking Education Center and of the Bakery at King Arthur Flour in Vermont, USA. He has been an instructor (and baker) in several countries, including France, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Brazil and Japan.
This epic book is very highly recommended when you want to bump up your skills and expand your repertoire. With 145 recipes in 496 pages, it’s the book the MellowBakers started working through (twice!).
The recipes are given in both Imperial Weights (pounds & ounces) and Metric Weights (kilograms) for bakery-sized batches of dozens or more loaves, in US volumes (cups & teaspoons) for home-sized batches (2 or 3 loaves), and include Baker’s Percentages for easy batch size changes.
MAGGIE GLEZER’S ARTSAN BAKING
While both a bit of a travelogue and a collection of recipes, Maggie Glezer’s book “Artisan Baking” offers the reader a depth on insight into the mindset of bakers who strive to keep the art of bread baking alive while competing with Big Business bake factories for the soul of the average person.
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(Note that the original 2000 hard cover version of the book was titled “Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes” and can still be found but for rather steeper prices due to its growing rarity. Other than the shorter title and soft cover, the newer paperback edition is identical.)
Glezer travelled across the US and visited artisan bakeries both large and small to interview the people who’s passion for hand crafted breads is evident. Many of their personal stories are described along with their philosophies as well as their shop formulas.
Beautifully photographed, the book gives behind-the-scenes glimpses into each bakery and lets the reader feel as if they’ve stepped into the warmth and wonderful aroma that is to be found in these oases of tradition and care.
A lovely book to have even if you don’t bake but love bread, it’s even more rewarding to ‘bake along’ with the artisans and produce a variety of beautiful loaves.
The book includes 35 varied recipes from 22 different bakeries. The recipes are given in volumes, ounces, grams and baker’s percentages.
PETER REINHART’S BREAD BAKER’S APPRENTICE
Curious about the recipes I made from Peter Reinhart’s book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”?
Get a copy of it right here!
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Peter Reinhart is an award winning baker and teaches at the Johnson & Wales University for the renowned culinary academy. In this book, Reinhart’s easy teaching style comes through as he demonstrates, with the use of hundreds of beautiful photos, the process of creating some 36 different breads. As with most good bread baking books, a portion of it is dedicated to teaching the why’s and wherefores of bread, not simply giving out recipes.
This book is perfect for the novice and the experienced alike. It should be in most every baker’s library.
Recipes are given in volume and US weights (ounces, not grams) and a sidebar box gives Baker’s Percentages.
MICHAEL SUAS’ ADVANCED BREAD AND PASTRY
This is the course book used by the world renown San Francisco Baking Institute (often written simply as SFBI), headed by master baker Michel Suas.
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Consisting of over 1000 pages, this is a vast and detailed education in both breads and pastry. Lushly peppered with beautiful photos, it not only gives directions on how to make the beautiful collected product – well over 500+ items – but goes into the reasons and technical explanations behind the processes. If you want to bake pretty much anything, chances are pretty decent you’ll find it in here.
Although it is aimed at students looking to work in a professional setting and therefore give larger volume amounts (such as 5 cakes), the recipes are all given in a “tester” size which makes one home-sensible size. The recipes also offer gram weights and imperial weights (Lb & Oz) which means they are perfect for use with your digital kitchen scale.
There will be a bit of sticker shock when you check out the price for this book but it is so well put together that it is certainly worth considering as a valuable addition to your baking library. Reinforce the bookshelf, however; it weighs in at over 7 pounds (3 kg +).
CHAD ROBERTSON’S TARTINE BREAD
One of the most popular new(ish) books out there currently are the three Tartine books from the world famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Please see our next page for the trilogy’s write up and a special discount.
KEN FORKISH’S FLOUR WATER SALT YEAST
From the owner of Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Ken’s Pizza in Portland OR, comes this delightful book aimed at those who are just beginning their adventures in real bread. Ken walks you through his own progress from neophyte bread enthusiast to owner of a successful bakery, and in the process shares many of the things he learn to do (and not do) on the road to making excellent artisan breads. The recipes included here require little in the way of equipment; they pretty much use all hand work so you can make great breads without an expensive mixer.
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I’ve made a few of the loaves detailed in here and will attest that they are indeed quite wonderful.
If you are looking for your own first book on the topic of artisan breads, this would not be a bad choice at all. Like the Tartine Bread books noted above, this one seems to be popping up rather frequently in the home bakers forums I visit and with successful results.
MIKE AVERY’S BREAD BOOKS
If you haven’t popped over to visit Mike Avery’s great site, SourdoughHome.com, you owe it to yourself to do so. Mike’s got an intersting series of posts on his site dedicated, as you can obviously tell, to sourdough breads. With a huge amount of useful topics and plenty of interesting guidance, you will find this online source a great resource to add to your bread making arsenal.
One aspect of this site that isn’t really as obvious as it might be is the “Bread Shoppe” and, in there, a few publications that you may find very handy to order. Specifically, Mike offers three books:
- An Introduction To Sourdough Baking
- Back to Bagels
- Mastering Flavorful Breads
The first two delve into, specifically, different sourdough breads and a variety of incredibly tasty sourdough bagels of numerous sorts. The tird looks at methods of bringing out the most flavour from your ingredients which, in basic breads, are very simple yet slight changes in their handling and ratios can still produce an incredible array of different style products.
These books are available either in a downloadable PDF format so you can get your copy pretty much instantly and they’re all priced at an amazing $5 USD. Alternatively, if you’re not keen on printing your own copies, they can also be ordered pre-printed and mailed out as a hard copy to you for a few dollars more.
I can personally attest that they are very helpful books with excellent info and amazing recipes. And for just $5, you can’t argue about the value! If you only want to try one out to start, may I suggest the Bagels edition? You’ll love the results.