Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their top picks of all time.
Pastry chef Karen DeMasco is a huge cookbook collector, so she couldn’t pick just one to spotlight. Here, four of her all-time favorite cookbooks that every aspiring pastry chef or baker needs to own.
1. Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich (2007)
“It’s so ingredient-focused, and every recipe I’ve tried from the book is perfect,” DeMasco says. “Medrich has given me a lot of inspiration, a lot of good ideas, like she infused milk with cocoa nibs to make a gelato with a great milky chocolate flavor.”
2. Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger (2010)
“It has a great method for croissants, which I’ve been working on, and I love its whole bread philosophy. In fact, we have a starter now in our pastry department, thanks to them,” she says.
3. Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax (2001)
“This is one of my all-time favorites,” she says. “Ever since I started out I’ve loved it, and every once in a while I go back to it. His style is comforting and simple, and he’s got great stories—he always tells you where the desserts are coming from, little facts about each one.”
4. Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and Julia Child (1996)
“I always have loved Baking with Julia. My copy at home is tattered and flour-stained,” she says. “It’s got such well-written recipes, ones I used a lot when I was first learning. There are a lot of basics in there you can build upon to do fancier things.”