The best baking books

3 authors have picked their favorite books about baking and why they recommend each book.

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Understanding Baking

By Joseph Amendola, Nicole Rees,

Book cover of Understanding Baking: The Art and Science of Baking

This small but informative book breaks down the ingredients used in baking and the science behind them. Readers will learn why ingredients like egg, flour, sugar, and milk are frequently used in pastry baking. The authors masterfully explain how ingredients transform during the baking process, like when an egg mixes with sugar or when baking soda combines with an acid. Each chapter ends with a helpful review written in a quiz format. You will become a better baker by reading this book. Note that there are no recipes in this book.


Who am I?

Lei Shishak is the author of numerous cookbooks including Beach House Dinners, Beach House Brunch, Beach House Baking, and Farm-to-Table Desserts. A graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Lei is the founder of Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente, California. She is one of Southern California’s most respected bakers, having been honored as the Orange County Pastry Chef of the Year in 2011 by Riviera Magazine.


I wrote...

Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

By Lei Shishak,

Book cover of Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

What is my book about?

When we shop at farmers' markets, we support our local economy and consume food that's healthier, tastier, and packed with essential nutrients specific to our local environment. In Farm-to-Table Desserts, chef Lei demonstrates how baking with locally sourced, organic ingredients is so satisfying that it will quickly become an easy and delicious habit.

The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

By Flo Braker, Dana Gallagher (photographer),

Book cover of The Simple Art of Perfect Baking

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.


Who am I?

Rick Rodgers is an award-winning culinary teacher and cookbook writer who has made a specialty of books on baked goods. His book Kaffehaus explores the delicious sweets of the Austro-Hungarian coffee culture. With two of America’s most iconic bakeries, he is the co-author of The Model Bakery Cookbook and Sarabeth's Bakery, as well as Coffee And Cake, Tea And Cookies, and Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food.


My project is...

Cooking & Baking Classes

I am the author of 40 original cookbooks, and the co-author, ghostwriter, recipe tester, or consultant to more than 30 additional titles. I provide culinary and literary services to chefs, corporations, and celebrities, drawing on deep experience in these very different worlds. 

The Art of Fine Baking

By Paula Peck,

Book cover of The Art of Fine Baking

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.


Who am I?

Rick Rodgers is an award-winning culinary teacher and cookbook writer who has made a specialty of books on baked goods. His book Kaffehaus explores the delicious sweets of the Austro-Hungarian coffee culture. With two of America’s most iconic bakeries, he is the co-author of The Model Bakery Cookbook and Sarabeth's Bakery, as well as Coffee And Cake, Tea And Cookies, and Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food.


My project is...

Cooking & Baking Classes

I am the author of 40 original cookbooks, and the co-author, ghostwriter, recipe tester, or consultant to more than 30 additional titles. I provide culinary and literary services to chefs, corporations, and celebrities, drawing on deep experience in these very different worlds. 

Martha Stewart's Cookie Perfection

By Martha Stewart Living Magazine,

Book cover of Martha Stewart's Cookie Perfection: 100+ Recipes to Take Your Sweet Treats to the Next Level

Martha Stewart's recipes always work. I always have success with them! I recommend getting your kitchen decorated as you try recipes from each of these chapters: All Dressed Up, Classics with a Twist, Some Assembly Required, Giant Cookies, Tools of the Trade, Cookies by Any Other Name, Celebration Cookies.


Who am I?

Monica Wellington was born in London and lived in Switzerland and Germany as a child. She has written and illustrated many books for young children, including Apple Farmer Annie, Zinnia’s Flower Garden, My Leaf Book, and Mr. Cookie Baker. She now lives in New York City. Some of her favorites things are: baking desserts, eating chocolate, traveling to France, going to the ballet, and reading at home with her cat on her lap. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts.


I wrote...

Mr. Cookie Baker

By Monica Wellington,

Book cover of Mr. Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Mr Cookie Baker, my picture book for young children, is about a day-in-the-life of a very busy baker who, step by step, makes his special sugar cookies and then welcomes in his hungry customers. Since childhood, I have always loved baking cookies. And when I first came to New York City I worked at a famous bakery. These two things came together and inspired the idea for this book. Mmmm, yummy!

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

By America's Test Kitchen,

Book cover of The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book: The Only Baking Book You'll Ever Need

I know, I know. America’s Test Kitchen again. But seriously, these are the two most used cookbooks in my house, and their tattered condition testifies to that. Nearly everything I have tried from the Baking book has turned out delicious, and I have enough confidence in these recipes to try something new even for company.


Who am I?

I’ve loved cooking and baking since I was a little girl. I attempted to bake a chocolate cake when I was nine without a recipe and put the resulting glop in a plastic bowl in the oven. Luckily, I forgot to turn the oven on and my mother discovered it later, no harm done. I was always a foodie but also a tremendous reader with a great love for the English language, so food writing marries my two passions. My published works include The New York Times bestselling The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook (over a million copies sold), and I write a food column for a women’s magazine.


I wrote...

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

By Dinah Bucholz,

Book cover of The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

What is my book about?

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook makes dining à la Hogwarts as easy as Banoffi Pie! With over 150 recipes and a guide to where the foods can be found in the series, you can create perfect Potter meals drawn straight from the pages of your favorite stories. With a dash of mystery and a dollop of creativity, you’ll conjure up the entrées, desserts, snacks, and drinks you need to transform ordinary meals into culinary masterpieces sure to make even Mrs. Weasley proud.

The Sweet Life

By Tina Rupp, Kate Zuckerman,

Book cover of The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle

Pastry chef Kate Zuckerman shares her recipes from Chanterelle, the beloved, award-winning New York City restaurant. This book is a beautiful and complete look into a restaurant pastry chef’s world. The recipes cover a full spectrum of desserts from luscious tarts to cakes, cookies, custards, soufflés, and delightful confections. Readers will enjoy in-depth explanations of pastry techniques and the history of ingredients. Two of my favorite recipes in the book are the Roasted Apple Beignets and the Brandied Dried Fig Soufflé.


Who am I?

Lei Shishak is the author of numerous cookbooks including Beach House Dinners, Beach House Brunch, Beach House Baking, and Farm-to-Table Desserts. A graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Lei is the founder of Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente, California. She is one of Southern California’s most respected bakers, having been honored as the Orange County Pastry Chef of the Year in 2011 by Riviera Magazine.


I wrote...

Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

By Lei Shishak,

Book cover of Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

What is my book about?

When we shop at farmers' markets, we support our local economy and consume food that's healthier, tastier, and packed with essential nutrients specific to our local environment. In Farm-to-Table Desserts, chef Lei demonstrates how baking with locally sourced, organic ingredients is so satisfying that it will quickly become an easy and delicious habit.

Baking and Pastry

By The Culinary Institute of America (CIA),

Book cover of Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft

This was my textbook when I was a baking and pastry major in culinary school. In its third edition, this is the most comprehensive pastry baking book from the country's premier culinary school. I still refer back to it time and again for its reliable recipes and classic techniques. The chapters cover every specialty in pastry baking, including bread, chocolates, confections, wedding cakes, pastries, decorating, mousses, and frozen desserts. This book is well worth its price.


Who am I?

Lei Shishak is the author of numerous cookbooks including Beach House Dinners, Beach House Brunch, Beach House Baking, and Farm-to-Table Desserts. A graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Lei is the founder of Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente, California. She is one of Southern California’s most respected bakers, having been honored as the Orange County Pastry Chef of the Year in 2011 by Riviera Magazine.


I wrote...

Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

By Lei Shishak,

Book cover of Farm-To-Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes Made from Your Local Farmers Market

What is my book about?

When we shop at farmers' markets, we support our local economy and consume food that's healthier, tastier, and packed with essential nutrients specific to our local environment. In Farm-to-Table Desserts, chef Lei demonstrates how baking with locally sourced, organic ingredients is so satisfying that it will quickly become an easy and delicious habit.

Betty Crocker Cookies

By Betty Crocker,

Book cover of Betty Crocker Cookies: Irresistibly Easy Recipes for Any Occasion

My first cookbook was Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cook Book. It was given to me by my mother when I was eight years old. I still have it and Cookies, Cakes, and Other Desserts was always my favorite chapter. I remember working my way through the recipes, starting with Oatmeal Cookies and advancing to creative Paintbrush Cookies. My love of baking started there! This book has many recipes with kid appeal, such as Frankenstein Cookies and Tie-Dye Swirl Cookies. A personal favorite of mine: Turtle Chocolate Chip Cookies with caramel and pecans and lots of chocolate!


Who am I?

Monica Wellington was born in London and lived in Switzerland and Germany as a child. She has written and illustrated many books for young children, including Apple Farmer Annie, Zinnia’s Flower Garden, My Leaf Book, and Mr. Cookie Baker. She now lives in New York City. Some of her favorites things are: baking desserts, eating chocolate, traveling to France, going to the ballet, and reading at home with her cat on her lap. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts.


I wrote...

Mr. Cookie Baker

By Monica Wellington,

Book cover of Mr. Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Mr Cookie Baker, my picture book for young children, is about a day-in-the-life of a very busy baker who, step by step, makes his special sugar cookies and then welcomes in his hungry customers. Since childhood, I have always loved baking cookies. And when I first came to New York City I worked at a famous bakery. These two things came together and inspired the idea for this book. Mmmm, yummy!

100 Cookies

By Sarah Kieffer,

Book cover of 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen

Have a glass of milk, or a cup of tea, ready for when the cookies come out of the oven - they will be every bit as delicious as the photos! The names of the chapters give you a good idea of the wonderful selection: Classics, Brownies and Blondies, Fruit Extravaganza, The Next Level, Time to Play, Pan-banging Cookies, and Mix & Match.


Who am I?

Monica Wellington was born in London and lived in Switzerland and Germany as a child. She has written and illustrated many books for young children, including Apple Farmer Annie, Zinnia’s Flower Garden, My Leaf Book, and Mr. Cookie Baker. She now lives in New York City. Some of her favorites things are: baking desserts, eating chocolate, traveling to France, going to the ballet, and reading at home with her cat on her lap. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts.


I wrote...

Mr. Cookie Baker

By Monica Wellington,

Book cover of Mr. Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Mr Cookie Baker, my picture book for young children, is about a day-in-the-life of a very busy baker who, step by step, makes his special sugar cookies and then welcomes in his hungry customers. Since childhood, I have always loved baking cookies. And when I first came to New York City I worked at a famous bakery. These two things came together and inspired the idea for this book. Mmmm, yummy!

The Book of Cookies

By Pat Alburey,

Book cover of The Book of Cookies

In addition to the essential photo of each cookie, there are also excellent photos showing the stages of preparation. The recipes include a lot of fancy-looking cookies that are actually very simple: favorites include Marbled Shortbread, Madeleines, Pinwheels.


Who am I?

Monica Wellington was born in London and lived in Switzerland and Germany as a child. She has written and illustrated many books for young children, including Apple Farmer Annie, Zinnia’s Flower Garden, My Leaf Book, and Mr. Cookie Baker. She now lives in New York City. Some of her favorites things are: baking desserts, eating chocolate, traveling to France, going to the ballet, and reading at home with her cat on her lap. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts.


I wrote...

Mr. Cookie Baker

By Monica Wellington,

Book cover of Mr. Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Mr Cookie Baker, my picture book for young children, is about a day-in-the-life of a very busy baker who, step by step, makes his special sugar cookies and then welcomes in his hungry customers. Since childhood, I have always loved baking cookies. And when I first came to New York City I worked at a famous bakery. These two things came together and inspired the idea for this book. Mmmm, yummy!

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