The best baking books

The Books I Picked & Why

A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home

By Carolynn Carreno, Melissa Weller

A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home

Why this book?

Baking books are constantly evolving because of changing tastes and new availability of groceries. What was once an exotic grocery item can now be found at every supermarket. Weller’s book is for today’s cook, but she uses familiar formats for her creations. Her multilayered babkas are like no one else’s. You will learn a new technique or ingredient with every recipe.


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The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

By Flo Braker, Dana Gallagher

The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

Why this book?

When I worked in a food magazine test kitchen, it was a joy when a recipe by Flo came across my desk. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was legendary for her skills and nurturing of young talent, her books deserve to be better known to the general public. The late, great Flo taught me so much about baking with her clear and concise recipes for top-notch baked goods. You will feel like your favorite aunt is standing next to you in the kitchen directing your every move. You can trust Flo.


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The Italian Baker: The Classic Tastes of the Italian Countryside--Its Breads, Pizza, Focaccia, Cakes, Pastries, and Cookies

By Carol Field, Ed Anderson

The Italian Baker: The Classic Tastes of the Italian Countryside--Its Breads, Pizza, Focaccia, Cakes, Pastries, and Cookies

Why this book?

This book literally changed home baking forever by making artisan breads accessible to the amateur cook. It was the first time that many of us saw recipes for the rustic breads with crackling brown crusts and moist, hole-ridden interiors that were before only available at specialty bakeries. All books are a labor of love, but I can’t imagine the determination an American woman must have had to wrestle the original recipes from Italian masters.


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The Art of Fine Baking

By Paula Peck

The Art of Fine Baking

Why this book?

This prim tome may not have any photos, and the author’s voice is somewhat terse, but she comes across with excellent recipes. This is the cookbook that started me on the road to professional baking, as the desserts I made for my novice dinner parties were such hits that I got stars in my eyes. It is definitely Francocentric, but that is a very good place to start if you are a beginner, and if you are an experienced cook, you can’t go wrong with her basic formulas.


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Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake

By Michelle Polzine

Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake

Why this book?

Disclosure: The owner of this San Francisco restaurant was strongly influenced by the less familiar Austro-Hungarian recipes in my book KAFFEEHAUS. But, while my book focuses on the classic versions, Michelle takes them to new heights with seasonal produce and her fresh taste on flavors and techniques. It is worth the price of the book to get her infamous Russian honey cake recipe, the towering masterpiece that graces the cover. This book is an instant classic that every serious baker will want to own.


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