The 10 Best Baking Books
This wiki has been updated 11 times since it was first published in March of 2018. Even if you've been cooking for years, very few people can whip up a batch of cookies, a loaf of bread or a homemade cake without following a recipe. That's where these baking books come in handy. We've rounded up some of the best options for all skill levels and preferences, whether you prefer the tried and true classics or you're looking to branch out with some more adventurous options. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 05, 2021:
Really great cookbooks stand the test of time. Just look at Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child or Beard on Pasta by James Beard. These are two classic tomes that should be in every home cook's and aspiring chef's collection, despite being written decades ago. And, since we have some of the best baking books here, it may not come as much surprise that we didn't have to make too many changes to our recommendations.
There are a few noteworthy updates worth mentioning though. One of which is removing the previous Cook's Illustrated's Baking Book in favor of the more recent edition. The 2013 version was entirely in black and white, whereas the 2018 edition has color photographs, something that is appealing in any cookbook. We will caution, that if you already have the 2013 edition, there isn't much point in buying the newer one, as they contain mostly the same recipes.
Another changes was to remove The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts in favor of Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with the former, it comes from a self-taught baker and blogger, whereas the latter comes from a professional who was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef at one point. He also runs one of the most popular bakeries in New York and is known for making some of the most extraordinarily delicious and creative desserts, so it is the ideal choice for someone who truly wants to be inspired.
October 25, 2019:
Any baking book worth its salt will not only include delicious, simple-to-follow recipes and helpful pictures, but it will also explain techniques and some baking science, have handy tips, and go over ingredients, shopping, storage, measurements, and equipment. Some will assume you have things like kitchen scales and stand mixers on hand, as well as common ingredients, but most won't require specialty items unless the book is niche or meant to elevate your skills and help you experiment. All of the books on this list were ranked based on these priorities.
Our selections are meant to cater to both beginning and experienced bakers, with some that focus on savory bakes and breads (Flour Water Salt Yeast), or cookies (The Perfect Cookie), while others run the gamut (Baking Demystified). We also wanted to include volumes that catered to gluten-free diets (Flavor Flours, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts) and couples or those who live alone and don't want recipes that feed an army of people (Dessert For Two).
While we still think How Baking Works is fascinating and a must for any home cook who wants to truly understand what's happening in the oven and the mixer, we felt it was a bit too akin to a textbook to merit a spot on this list. We also let go of Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar for the more practical and equally artistic The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts.