The Best Bread Cookbooks For Any Home Baker
If Sundays were designed for any activities in particular, reading a good book and baking some fresh bread would have to be right up at the top of the list. And if, like me, the Venn diagram of your interest in either of those topics overlaps as a near-perfect circle, then reading a good book about bread (while, ideally, making or eating bread) is the pinnacle of perfect weekend pastimes. Whether you've mastered the basics of proofing and kneading or a complete newbie to the art of turning flour, water, yeast, and salt into a crusty, springy loaf, a little guidance and shared knowledge in the form of a bread cookbook can be a huge help in taking your bread making skills to the next level.
Are you just beginning your journey into bread baking? We recommend My Bread by Jim Lahey to get you started.
If you're trying to nail down a basic boule or experiment with new shapes and grains, here are five of the best bread cookbooks any home baker can have on their shelf, as recommended by Food & Wine Associate Food Editor Kelsey Youngman:
My Bread by Jim Lahey
"Lahey is the creator of the famous 'No Knead' bread baking technique, involving about 5 minutes of hands-on work, and letting slow-rise fermentation work its magic. True beginners should start here, without the time (or equipment) investment of sourdough starters and hand kneading."
The book includes lots of images to enjoy while learning, and sections dedicated to other bread-centric activities like how to use stale bread and making breadcrumbs. While this book is ideal for any baking novice, it's also worth a try if you've been frustrated by homemade bread baking in the past. Lahey's innovative technique is opening up the world of homemade bread to the masses.
My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method — $22 at amazon.com
Josey Baker Bread by Josey Baker
"My favorite book for complete beginners in the land of sourdough bread. Baker (what a fortuitous name) not only gives clear, conversational instructions, timetables and walk-through photos of every step, he writes the book in order of difficulty, starting off with a basic bread recipe and holding your hand as you advance."
Josey Baker Bread — $22 at amazon.com
Sourdough by Sarah Owens
"Owens is a fantastic resource for all things fermented, whole grain, and sprouted. Clear and foundational enough for beginners, Sourdough also expands beyond bread, with delicious recipes for using homegrown starter in cookies, tarts, and more."
Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More — $26 at amazon.com
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
"Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt's original Tartine Bakery in San Francisco is a bread lover's destination for a reason. If you can't make it out there, grab a copy of Robertson's cookbook (though I'd lean towards calling it a textbook) on his technique. It's wordy, descriptive, and technical. You'll need to start at the beginning and learn as you go, because his foundational techniques and language are not repeated in later recipes. But, whoa, does he teach you how to make excellent bread."
Tartine Bread — $27 at amazon.com
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen
"A beautiful collection of recipes from the women of New York-based Hot Bread Kitchen including loaves and baguettes, enriched breads, conchas, bialys, and more from around the world. Hot Bread Kitchen employs, educates, and empowers immigrant women, bringing recipes from their homelands and empowering and educating them in turn. It's a great cookbook and a great cause to support."
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World — $35 at amazon.com
Living Bread by Daniel Leader
This book won lauded dessert maker Daniel Leader a James Beard Award in 2020, and follows the evolution of artisan bread baking from "wheat farming practices and advances in milling, to sourdough starters and the mechanics of mixing dough." Recipes include vegan brioche, chocolate sourdough babka, and pompe à l'huile, a sweet bread unique to the South of France.
Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making — $26 at amazon.com
New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford
Instagram-famous baker Bryan Ford focuses this book away from Europe and onto breadmaking practices in North, Central, and South Americas. "Most people think of sourdough as a Tartine country loaf, a specific-looking bread that has specific ingredients," he told Food & Wine. "Let's be more inclusive. Let's accept that pan cubano is also sourdough, and pan de coco is sourdough and look at it as such." Ford also ties in his own Honduran and New Orleans roots to further flesh out this eye-opening redefinition of naturally leavened bread.
New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More — $16 at amazon.com