Is the best bread cookbook something we should still be looking for? Are books about bread still a thing or can we rely solely on the ever-expanding online universe to get us all the answers?
I’m well aware that nowadays everyone goes online for their information on basically everything they need to know. And YouTube is definitely a very good resource when it comes to knowing how to make delicious breads.
But then there’s another option. In the form of books about bread,.
I must admit that I’m a big reader of any genre. It’s going to sound weird but, when I was little, all I wanted as presents were books. I lost some of that enthusiasm as technology became the focus of our lives but I still rely on books to both entertain me and teach me.
I wrote a post on the best bread machine cookbooks. Now, it’s time to explore the best books about bread. What options do we have? What can we learn about making bread from books? A whole lot would be the short answer but let’s not leave it at that.
Top 11 Best Bread Cookbooks
The good news when it comes to searching for the best bread cookbook? There are a lot of amazing options to choose from. They all address different levels so even the most inexperienced (like myself) can be easily guided through the process of making bread at home.
Plus, their prices are not bad at all. For the knowledge that they encompass and the recipes that they offer, which will last you a lifetime, I would say that investing in some of the best bread cookbooks is worth it.
1. Bread Baking for Beginners by Bonnie Ohara
Just to demonstrate that this is indeed the best bread cookbook for beginners, not even the page count is that high. That can be a good thing, if the words are used for instructions and not for unnecessary introductions and endless talk from the writer.
The Bread Baking for Beginners by Bonnie Ohara is also a cheap best bread cookbook.
It is indeed one of the best bread cookbooks for beginners but it takes the whole process quite seriously. There’s even a discussion about measuring the temperature of ingredients like water, flour and what temperature the dough should have.
It’s one of those books about bread that is perfect even for those who are used to making loaves at home for many years. It’s so nicely structured and so complete with information that anyone can learn something new.
There are 6 chapters:
- how bread is formed
- preparing to bake
- no-knead breads: rustic loaves, focaccias, pizza, and fougasse
- kneaded breads: multigrains, whole grains, and flavored loaves (batard recipe included)
- enriched breads: brioche, cinnamon rolls, babka, challah, and variations
- breads with pre-ferments and sourdough starters
The instructions for all the recipes are pretty straightforward and nicely written.
I love the recipes that this best bread cookbook for beginners covers. Their number is not disappointing either. There’s a pretty wide variety to be found, a little bit for everyone. There are no gluten-free recipes.
For baking, this cookbook recommends using a cast iron or a Dutch oven. A large part of the recipes in the book are baked in a Dutch oven, which is a bit expensive. Using a bread lame is great for scoring, which you should definitely do.
You can check out my post on the best Dutch oven for bread if you’re interest in seeing what options you have and at what prices.
There are also recipes for loaves made in a loaf pan.
And pizza is done on a pizza stone. But, if you don’t want to spend the extra money, a baking sheet lined with parchment paper works, too.
There is also mention of needing a proofing basket, dough scraper, wooden peel, kitchen towels, nonstick cooking spray, parchment paper, pastry brush, plastic wrap, scissors, spray bottle, rubber spatula.
2. Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish
I just love the name of this cookbook for artisan breads and pizzas. I always say that the basic bread recipe just needs flour, water, salt, and yeast. Only four ingredients can create delicious loaves. So, yes, I totally love the name.
It’s also one of the most popular books about bread. It’s written by Portland’s most acclaimed and beloved baker and it was a New York Times bestseller.
But who is the target audience for this best bread cookbook?
Perfect for those who own a Dutch oven
Well, in the introduction it assures us that even beginners will be able to master the technique for mixing, folding the dough, shaping loaves and baking.
But before actually establishing if that’s the case or not, I must warn you that the baker in this cookbook uses a Dutch oven for baking the breads.
All the breads are baked in a 4-quart Dutch oven but a 5-quart works, too.
And a proofing basket is on the equipment list. Proofing baskets and Dutch ovens actually go hand in hand, being used for proofing the dough and for obtaining that nice oval shape that once scored and baked looks like a masterpiece not a simple loaf of bread.
Dutch ovens are not cheap and not every household has one.
There’s no point in spending money on this book if you don’t have one or at least a baking stone. The pizza and focaccia are done on a baking stone. They can also be done in an oven-proof skillet.
That’s some serious equipment for a beginner. I would say that this is not a book about bread for beginners. It’s more suitable for people who want to make a commitment to regularly make bread at home.
This is a cookbook on artisan bread and pizza divided into 4 main parts:
- principles of artisan bread
- basic bread recipes
- levain bread recipes – it will teach you how make a levain culture (for making sourdough bread) from whole wheat flour and water in 5 days
- pizza recipes, which also includes focaccia recipes
Each recipe makes two loaves. Or one loaf and the rest of the dough to be used for pizza/focaccia making.
All in all, it’s a great bread cookbook, it covers sourdough breads really well but it’s not a simple book. There’s a lot of reading to be done and quite the equipment to have.
3. Tartine Bread by Robertson Chad – Best Sourdough Bread Cookbook
This is the book to get if you really want to get into making sourdough bread. It’s a great book for beginners but also for advanced bakers, it’s a fantastic read.
The instructions are pretty easy to follow, detailed, and the pictures help, as well.
However, the explanations are quite detailed so be prepared to read quite a bit. It’s just a testament to how well-written this book about bread is and how much it can help anyone, even those without experience.
For baking, the writer uses a cast-iron combo cooker, comprised of a shallow frying pan (also serves as a lid) and a deeper pan (where the bread is baked). The good news is that these cast-iron combo cookers are not only versatile and very helpful for all kinds of dishes but also quite affordable. I like them a lot.
The first part of the book, the basic country bread is definitely the star of the show. It also includes variations with olives, sesame, walnuts, or by adding polenta to the recipe.
You can also use the dough to make pizza. There are some nice basic recipes for that, too.
The next part is focused on semolina bread and whole-wheat breads. There are variations for each.
Baguettes and enriched breads represent chapter 3. Besides the awesome baguettes recipe, you’ll discover recipes for brioche with some unexpected and delicious variations and croissants.
Chapter 4 is one of my favorite, it features recipes for days-old bread. My household is not where you will find days-old bread often but these recipes make the saving worth it. The pictures are drool-worthy.
The last part of the book is focused on recipes that include bread as an ingredient but are so much more than that. Bruschetta recipes are a surprise of the best kind but they’re followed by sandwich recipes, French onion soup, kale Caesar, and so much more. You have to get the book to discover all of them.
The Tartine Bread is the best sourdough book without a doubt, its complexity makes the pretty high price well worth it.
Also, on their website, they say that they ship bread nationally, that’s really nice.
4. Paul Hollywood’s Bread by Paul Hollywood – More than a Book about Bread
Paul Hollywood’s Bread is not a cheap book but it’s a very interesting best bread cookbook.
The best way to describe it is: a book that’s more than bread making because it goes well beyond that. It also includes a lot of dishes based on various breads.
It’s more a book about how breads can accompany a meal or complete certain very delicious dishes.
For example, the first recipe is for bloomer (basic white bread + olive oil) and the next recipe is for grilled vegetable picnic loaf where the bloomer is used for a sandwich with vegetables and mozzarella. That’s a trend that continues throughout the book. The bread is good but the dishes shine.
There are 6 chapters:
- classic breads
- soda breads
- continental breads
- enriched breads
Non-stick baking tray is enough
Also, it doesn’t suggest that you need baking stones or Dutch ovens. A non-stick baking tray is sufficient.
It’s a book that will be the perfect fit for people who want delicious bread, delicious dishes without spending a lot on additional equipment. That’s a thing that I totally approve of.
It starts off by teaching readers the fundamentals of baking and how to make bread. It teaches you the basics so that you’ll have confidence to make any dish.
5. The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish
I know we’re here to talk about books about bread but bread making and pizza making go hand in hand.
It’s why also those above best bread cookbooks also feature pizza recipes and some of them so much more. Those truly celebrate bread in all its forms and how useful and delicious it can be.
This is the same Portland baker who wrote the above Flour Water Salt Yeast.
The Elements of Pizza is not a small cookbook nor a cheap one but it’s easy to see why it’s so highly praised by its readers.
It has 7 chapters that cover absolutely everything someone might need to know about making pizza at home.
All kinds of doughs are included, including levain pizza dough.
The recipes include everything from how to make different types of delicious sauces to the famous Italian pizza recipes, without leaving out the New York pizza recipes.
Ken’s artisan pizza classics recipes speak about the love this baker has for artisan baked goods.
The last part features just vegetables pizza recipes, which are a really nice touch to complete this best pizza cookbook.
As for the baking, using a pizza steel is what this cookbook recommends but the classic cordierite pizza stone can also be used. Check out my post on the best pizza stones and baking steels if you want to know which are the best options.
The pictures are not exactly the best but the recipes more than make up for it.
6. Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa
This sourdough bread cookbook makes one thing clear right from its cover: minimal kneading will be involved.
It’s also cheaper than the Tartine Bread by Robertson Chad, which remains my first recommendation as the best sourdough book.
Artisan Sourdough Made Simple can be regarded as a good second choice.
A Dutch oven or even a pizza stone with an inverted bowl are recommended as baking equipment.
Another option that I haven’t come across anywhere else is the recommendation of an enamel roaster but I must admit that I don’t know how that would work.
The instructions for making the sourdough starter are easy to follow, there are plenty of very interesting delicious recipes because this is not a small book about bread. And the pictures are very nice.
7. The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois – No Frills Book about Bread
Well, this is the first book about bread that also includes a chapter dedicated to gluten-free breads. That’s certainly a nice surprise.
This is not a big cookbook but the promise of artisan bread in five minutes a day sounds intriguing. Let’s see what that actually means.
What artisan bread in five minutes means
The concept is based on refrigerating pre-mixed homemade dough. So, this is a book based on a dough-storage approach. The dough is mixed and stored in a lidded container for up to 2 weeks.
You can mix up a batch of dough in the morning (use lukewarm water), store it in the refrigerator, shape it down in the evening when you come home, give it a quick rest, and bake it.
At the basis, the secret is in a wetter dough.
The recipes don’t involve using a sourdough starter.
It’s also not a book that emphasizes that only kneading by hand is acceptable. You can use whatever dough kneading machine you have at your disposal, stand mixer or high-capacity food processor. Even using a spoon to mix the ingredients is acceptable.
This book is not about traditional artisan breads
They have an entire list of things you won’t do, like proofing yeast, kneading the dough, letting the dough rest and rise, fussing over doubling of dough volume, punch down and proofing dough.
The baking is done on a baking stone, cast-iron pizza pan, cast-iron skillet or unglazed quarry tiles.
The instructions are easy to follow and there are quite a lot of recipes to enjoy, including some gluten-free pizza and breads recipes and pizza recipes.
They also have a blog if you don’t want to spend money on the book.
This is also the book about bread that has actually guided me in writing about how to store pizza dough.
8. Bakerita: 100+ No-Fuss Gluten-Free Recipes by Rachel Conners
There was no way that I could end my reviews on books about bread without talking about a cookbook for those who need or prefer to eat gluten-free.
And when a cookbook has the no-fuss words in its name, I know that I have to check it out. What can I say, simple recipes are just my thing.
Plus, the cover is gorgeous and the price is one the cheapest.
- breakfast and snacks
- cakes, cupcakes, and cheescakes
- brownies and bars
- candy and confections
- nut butter, sauces, and beyond
Well, as you can clearly see, it’s not exactly a book about bread. It’s more like a book for everything gluten-free, especially sweets, with a few gluten-free bread recipes included.
I still think it’s worth checking out because the instructions are short and to the point, very easy to follow, and the recipes sound fantastic. I like it a lot.
9. 500 Pizzas & Flatbreads by Rebecca Baugniet – a Different Book about Bread
Can we talk about books about bread without including a book that includes all kinds of flatbreads recipes? I don’t think so. After all, flatbreads are considered the oldest types of breads that man made.
I will admit that this book is expensive but it’s also complex.
If you want to explore the wonderful and delicious universe of making flatbreads, you should consider getting a cookbook like this one. Or find a cheaper model that matches your budget, like the Pizzas and Flatbreads by Cider Mill Press.
- pizza basics
- pan pizzas
- thin crust pizzas
- rustic pizzas & calzoni
- international pizzas
- fougasse, foccacia & European flatbreads
- Indian & African flatbreads
- flatbreads & hearth breads of the middle East
- flatbreads of the Americas
- sweet pizzas & flatbreads
As you can easily see, it really covers everything. It’s just wonderful. I really love how it covers the whole globe and, at the end, manages to add a few recipes for those with a sweet tooth.
If you want to impress your family or your friends, this is one of the best books about bread to help you achieve just that.
A stand mixer is mentioned among the first tools you might need. It’s actually what a reviewer also said: great if you have a stand mixer. But you can also make the recipes if you have a hand mixer with dough hooks.
Other notable cookware and bakeware mentioned are: baking stones, skillets, baking pans, cookie sheets, tortilla & chapatti presses. In my article on the best flatbread maker machines, you’ll find reviews for some of the tools.
10. Breaking Bread: A Baker’s Journey Home in 75 Recipes by Martin Philip
This is not a book about bread like most of us are used to. It’s a lot more than that. This is the journey of a man and, through recipes, we’re following along. It’s like an intimate reading with the added bonus that you can learn a lot of delicious recipes. And bread making techniques.
Maybe these recipes will be able to better transmit what the author wants us to feel. Not just through the written word but through what we can make in the kitchen for just us or for our loved ones.
- part 1: recipes and stories
- part 2: method
In part 1, you’ll find recipes for all kinds of delicious creations: biscuits, plum port jam, pecan pie, mama’s bread, bread pudding, focaccia, basic French dough, pizza napoletana, ciabatta, bagels, oatmeal bread, baguettes, and so much more.
In part 2, everything about making bread is beautifully explained, even for complete beginners: ingredients, sourdough culture, measuring ingredients, fermentation, mixing, folding, dividing, preshaping, shaping, proofing, scoring, and baking.
The chapters are not organized by recipes like breads, pizzas, etc. But by the places the author has lived in. It’s a unique approach, a bit disjointed for some and maybe for me a bit more than for others, but quite befitting of this quirky cookbook.
11. The No-Fuss Bread Machine Cookbook by Michelle Anderson – for Bread Makers
In case you were wondering what a good cookbook for bread machine is, here you have it in the form of The No-Fuss Bread Machine Cookbook by Michelle Anderson.
You might not need a bread machine cookbook when talking about books about bread but, in case there was someone who was looking for one, I taught about including this one, as well.
The No-Fuss name aptly applies to this cookbook because the recipes are written in the simplest manner.
The instructions are concise, easy to understand, and to follow. This is not a cookbook where you get lost in the instructions. This is a cookbook for beginners and for people who like their things simple.
But it does feature about 150 recipes that are absolutely wonderful. It’s a wonderful cookbook for bread makers. Just pay attention to the fact that it doesn’t include gluten-free recipes.
Well, this was a wonderful article, very fun to write. I’m happy that I got to include so many wonderful best bread cookbook reviews that can guide everyone, no matter what they expect from bread making.