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Jan 15, 2008 08:24 AM

Favorite Book on Baking Bread? [Moved from General Topics board]

I would love to get better at baking bread, but I admit that most of my life I have been intimidated by anything that contains yeast. Baking it, I mean...the eating part I'm good at.

I know that there are a large number of books out there on bread (yeast, soda, quick, flat, etc.) but I'm curious if there is *one* that really stands out from the rest. I have a few in mind to buy, so I'd love to hear opinions of dedicated bakers before I take the plunge...

Thanks in advance!

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  1. When I started baking bread for the family I used the recipes on the package of King Arthur Flour. Believe it or not, the recipes were easy and the bread always turned out exactly the way I wanted. My all time favorite bread book, though, is the Tassajara Bread Book. I have a first edition that I've been baking from for years. It covers everything: Yeasted, Sweet, Quick, Pasteries. Here's a link to the Amazon 25th Anniversary Edition.

    There is absolutely nothing like the aroma of bread baking in the oven. It fills the entire house with love. Good luck on your new journey.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Thank you so much - I will check it out!

      Any other votes?

      1. re: Gio

        If you sold flour for a living wouldn't you want to make sure that people were successful in making bread from it? The King Arthur Flour Web site has a ton of recipes that are delicious. I haven't tried them all, but each one I have tried has been a winner.

        They also have a some tips on bread baking:

        By the way, with regard to morrian's reply below, baking bread is nothing like baking a cake. You will need a different amount of flour depending on the time of year and weather. For this reason, in bread recipes the amount of flour is only an approximation, not part of a set formula, like in baking cakes After you've made a few batches of bread you'll get the feel of what the dough should be like, and will be able to add, or not add, flour as necessary

      2. I like Peter Reinhart's book Crust and Crumb. You might check your library before taking the plunge. I was surprised at the quality/selection of books my library has.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" is a great book for the new bread baker wanting to learn. I am a firm believer that you must understand the basics of food science and chemistry before you start to experiment and he is the master in this area. I love both of the King Arthur baking books, but they are mostly recipe collections.

          "How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science" by Paul Figoni, might be a bit dry for many, but it explains whys and the results of baking. You may have guessed that I love the food science/chemistry of baking, and then tend to make my own recipes.

          Wayne Gisslen has some very good baking books, but they tend to be more focused on pastry than bread.

          Bo Friberg's books are great, as is the CIA baking text, but they tend to be more expensive and out of the realm of the home baker.

          All of Rose Levy Beranbaum baking books are good, and she has very exact recipes, but they must be followed to the letter, if you expect success.

          I agree with Chowser that you should get the books from the library before taking the plunge at Barnes and Noble/ Borders/Powells, etc.

          Baking is very different from cooking and accurate measuring is often the difference between failure and success. A sturdy set of both liquid and dry measuring cups, a probe thermo are essential, and a inexpensive digital scale ($40) is well worth the investment.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            I'm sitting here giggling, thinking of the first time I baked a cake with my (now) husband... My Mom taught me the fundamentals of baking when I was a kid, not that she was great, and I'm aware how important precision is. So I was stunned and then amused to see how my husband was measuring things. As a demo, we took the flour he had measured (intending to sift it after..."whatever sifting is..."...), sifted it, and measured again. I think he learned, but it was a really good reminder for me of all the things I take for granted. I think that something very exact is what I'm looking for. I have a couple of books now, for example, that say "white flour" or "knead." Within those terms, there is a wide range of interpretation...hard/soft/bleached/unbleached/ long? Can I use a stand mixer with a dough hook...? By hand...? I like thorough.

            Anyway, I had an online gift card with Amazon, so I ordered The Bread Makers Apprentice, Crust and Crumb and the Tassajara Bread Book. I collect cookbooks anyway and the first two look beautiful, so I doubt I will regret it. They also happen to be the ones I had paged through in the shop...:).

            Thanks so much!

            1. re: morrigan

              Sounds great. They are beautiful to look at. You're lucky to have a gift certificate. If anyone is interested, overstock has books at good prices and carries both Peter Reinhart books mentioned above:


              Searching that site, I now have my eye on the Bread Bakers Apprentice...

              1. re: chowser

                Chowser, I asked for and received the new CI cookbook, "The new Best Recipe", for X-mas after you mentioned it a few months back.

                Thanks for the mention, as its a revelation, and the science appeals to my inner geek. Alton Brown/Chris Kimball for President!

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  Hope you like the Best Recipe. Everything I've tried from that book has turned out well. Not necessarily the "best" for everything but still good. I love the geeky explanations, though Alton does geekiness the best.;-)

        2. Bread Baker's Apprentice
          Cheeseboard Collective

          are all wonderful.....

          1. I have 10 + books on bread baking from the very simple recipe books to the highly technical. Most of the ones already listed here. By far the best one I have is Local Breads by Daniel Leader. It came out last September I think. I love the Polish bread made with white rye flour, also a similar Czech loaf. Breads in the book are not found in most bread books. The author went to Europe to research all of these breads so he could learn to bake them in his bakery. Then he wrote this book and adapted the recipes to home baking ovens. All recipes tried so far have come out excellent. I really like the Como bread from Italy. It is the best white bread I have ever made.