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Best bread cookbook?

Hey all you bakers - what would you consider the best bread cookbook (or cookbooks) out there? Preferably something geared more towards traditional, rustic bread as opposed to breads with all sorts of different grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and other flavorings.


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  1. artisan bread in five minutes a day.
    unbelievable - SO easy and every recipe i've tried so far works great.
    they also have a very nice blog that gives you lots of extra ideas for basic dough! http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: madkittybadkitty

      Second, third, fourth and fifth this recommendation. It's the only method I use for breadmaking anymore and I've turned on quite a few people to it also. Really fantastic.

      1. re: madkittybadkitty

        Thirded. I still use the traditional bread recipe from Joy of Cooking for sandwich breads, but I adore my artisan bread in 5 loaves.

      2. Peter Reinhart's books are full of great information. I also like Rosie Levy Berenbaum's bread bible because she covers different techniques with using food processor, stand mixer, by hand, etc. I find it more practical, if you just want to make bread w/out the details. But with Peter Reinhart, you'll learn more about the whys of bread baking.

        1. I like Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb best. It has a full range of recipes for just about wny type of bread you might want to make. Not as happy with his Breadmaker's Apprentice. And a sentimental favorite: Beard on Bread by the one the only James Beard, the book I learned to make bread with.

          2 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            I second Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice! Buttertart, which recipes have you not been happy with? So far it's been my good luck charm, everything I've tried has been great, my favorite being the bagels. I am a newbie baker and appreciate the formulas and detail in the introductory section. I've also heard great things about his new book, Whole Grain Breads.

            1. re: yamalam

              I will have another look at it based on your recommendation. I have been so happy with Crust and Crumb that when I read Apprentice it seemed superfluous. V interested in the whole grain book, as well as the one coming in the fall.

          2. Selecting a "best" bread cookbook is beyond my capability. Every bread cookbook I've read has it's merits, and it's weaknesses. I like just about everything written by Peter Reinhart, I am currently reading his "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". I enjoyed (but disagreed with a lot of) The Best Bread Ever, by Charles Van Over.
            Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg is quite a good read.

            1. My mother always used Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads. I liked it so much I sought out the same edition she had from the 70's. Great and really helpful reference info as well as great recipes. Sections like white breads, cheese breads, little breads, fruit breads, etc.

              I believe a newer edition came out called Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads within say the past 5 years.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cookie44

                This is a good one too, especially for US regional breads. (I've also had ine since the 70's). His The Breads of France is also excellent, the best book on the subject by an American in my opinion. I understand Mr Clayton is still around at the age of 90 or so...hope he's still baking!

              2. "Uncle Johns Original Bread Book", a small book packed with basic bread reciepes. I've used mine for 35 years. Amazon has some used ones, very inexpensive. It's a great book!

                1. No one is better than Peter Reinhart:
                  Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor

                  Watch this extraordinary talk by him:

                  Read this:
                  "Reinhart's emphasis is on pulling out the flavor hidden in whole grains, which includes converting some of the starches to sugars. Reinhart's technique is to make two pre-doughs and combine them after a day or so of flavor development. He called this "the epoxy method," because, like epoxy glue, two substances that are relatively inert on their own combine to make something much more useful. Apparently Reinhart devised this method himself, and it is considered somewhat revolutionary in the field of breadmaking. Despite the numerous steps, the whole process ends up involving less labor than typical breadmaking because less kneading (and other labor) is required--time and the epoxy method create the flavor. Both of Reinhart's most recent books have won James Beard Awards."


                  1. If you can wait a few months, Peter Reinhart's new book is going to be wonderful! I've been a recipe taster, whilst my aunt was a recipe tester. She said the recipes were very easy to make, and I can vouch that they were delicious. The Pain au Levain was lovely.


                    Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprenctice is very good. It's dense with information, but if you understand everything in it, you'll be a good baker. I like Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, as well, but it's even more technical. I find Nancy Silverton's La Brea Breads to be a bit of a slog, but the recipes that I've tried have been brilliant.

                    1. I have happily used Peter Reinharts first book, Beard on Bread and to a more limited degree the Bread Alone cookbook, but my all time favorite baking book is Carol Field's Italian Breads and Baking book, which unlocked the secrets of breads like ciabatta before they were a common item.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jen kalb

                        I heartily agree it is one of the all-time best and was way ahead of its time. Thanks for reminding me of it!