As I have hinted at before, if there is one thing I love even more than bread, that’s books. And one type of books in particular: bread making books.

In my years of baking bread at home and writing about it, I have collected a sizable collection of books about bread. The collection is still far from complete and lacking especially in books written in other languages than English. Anyway, based on these books, here is my list of some of the greatest bread making books I recommend to all you bread lovers out there.

Books about bread are a great way to learn from many bakers: You don’t really need more than one or two well selected books in your book shelf, but having more gives you a glimpse into how different bakers work. And so, even if every book comes with recipes and formulas that are pretty much the same as in the next book, it’s the small touch and all those little personal ways of doing (and explaining) things that make them worth having around.

For each book, I have added a short description and my thoughts on who the book is for and what’s good about it. If you don’t agree, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Also, feel free to add your own suggestions (I am always looking for new books to add to my shelf).

Disclosure: Most of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and buy the book from Amazon, Bread Magazine will get a small commission. If you prefer to not use our links, just search the books by their names on Google or at your local library.

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My Recommendations For Your Collection of Bread Making Books

Ken Forkish: Flour Water Salt Yeast

Flour Water Salt Yeast
Flour Water Salt Yeast

Flour Water Salt Yeast is the latest addition to my list of recommended books. Before reading the book myself, I had heard a lot of good things about it, but wasn’t quite sure if I needed (or even wanted) to buy one more book to introduce me to making bread.

I’m glad I ignored my doubts and bought this book as it is easily one of the best books about bread making I have seen so far.

The book is approachable even for a beginner and starts with the story of how Ken Forkish became interested in bread and started his bakery (something I always enjoy in a bread making book), but it also goes deep into the craft of bread, explaining the key concepts in a good amount of detail. This makes Flour Water Salt Yeast interesting to even the more advanced (intermediate level) amateur baker. On top of it all, the book has the same kind of visual aesthetics that the Tartine books (right below on this list) so appealing.

If you are going to read just one book about bread, make it this one.

Chad Robertson: Tartine Bread and Tartine Book no 3

Tartine Bread
Tartine Bread

Chad Robertson is a rock star in the world of bread making and for a good reason. His approach to bread is not only visually pleasing also creates great bread. For me personally, Tartine Bread was there at just the time when I needed it to take me from being interested in bread to becoming passionate about it.

Both of Robertson’s books are extraordinary, but they are not for everyone. While you can very well get started in bread through these books, they are more useful for someone who has already dabbled with bread a little bit before. And especially with the second book, Tartine Book No. 3, finding all of the ingredients takes quite a bit of dedication.

If you are a fan of beautiful photography and some bread making philosophy, these books are for you.

Richard Bertinet: Dough and Crust

Crust
Crust

If Tartine Bread is for people who are already passionate about or at least interested in bread, the two books by Richard Bertinet (read our interview in the Spring 2012 issue of BREAD) are for the rest of us: people who are curious about bread or just getting started.

The first of the two books, Dough, was a huge success in Britain and went to grab a number of prizes soon after it was published in 2005. The book is an approachable and inspiring introduction to bread making, suitable for future home bakers who want to start with a more cookbook like introduction. Bertinet’s second book, Crust, takes the baker a step further, guiding her into the world of slowly fermented bread and sourdough.

If you are just beginning and want an easy start, pick one of these two books.

Emily Buehler: Bread Science

Bread Science
Bread Science

While Bread Science is probably the least known of the books on this list, it’s also the one that in its wealth of knowledge has proven to be the most useful when researching topics for the magazine.

While the book can be used as an introduction to making bread, I would recommend it to the advanced bread lover who wants to understand the science behind bread making from gluten to fermentation.

Bread Science is self-published — which shows when compared to the other, professional looking books, surrounding it on this list — but what you lose in finish, you more than gain in content.

If you are already into baking and want to know more about the underlying processes, this book is for you.

Sébastien Boudet: The French Baker

The French Baker
The French Baker

What I find most inspiring about Sébastien Boudet’s book, The French Baker, is his approach to bread making: Boudet is passionate about treating the dough with care and working together with the ingredients rather than against them. This attitude shows clearly also in the interview we did with Sébastien Boudet in our Autumn 2012 issue.

The other remarkable thing about this book is that in it Boudet demonstrates that you can start learning bread making straight from a sourdough recipe, without getting used to yeasted breads first.

I haven’t read the English translation of the book yet, but based on the original Swedish book, this is a book that is beautiful and inspiring, and filled with appreciation for bread, tradition and good living.

If you are into French cuisine and love photography, art and slowing down, this book is for you.

Richard Miscovich: From the Wood-Fired Oven, Dan Wing: The Bread Builders

From the Wood-Fired Oven
From the Wood-Fired Oven

I grouped these two books into one as they are both meant for the wood fired oven enthusiast — in fact, Richard Miscovich wrote his book, From the Wood-Fired Oven as kind of a follow up to Dan Wing and Alan Scott’s classic, The Bread Builders.

I love both of the books (and I don’t even have a wood-fired oven), but you can very well pick just one or the other and get excited about oven building and bread making.

Where Miscovich’s (read his interview in our October 2013 issue) book beats the older one is in describing how to get the most out of the oven by using every step in its heating cycle to the max. On the other hand, Wing does a great job at presenting artisan bakers from around the United States and sharing their stories.

If you have a wood-fired oven or dream of building one, these books are for you.

Jean-Philippe de Tonnac: Dictionnaire universel du pain

Dictionnaire universel du pain
Dictionnaire universel du pain

Here’s a more challenging recommendation — at least until someone gets to publishing an English translation. But even though this book is available only in French, I could not leave it out of the list.

Dictionnaire universel du pain is a wonderful encyclopedia of all things bread, from the science to cultural differences around the world, to history, to almost anything you can think of. Just like Bread Science, this book is a trusted tool I take with me every time I am researching something for the magazine — and a great place to look for new ideas to learn more about.

If you can read some French and want to know everything about bread, this book is for you.

There’s More

Putting this list together, I am sure I left out many of your favorites — in fact, it doesn’t even include all of my own favorites (or books such as “Larousse du pain” that I expect to be great but haven’t read yet) — so now the floor is yours: share your own recommendations in the comments!

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  1. Great list! Thanks for sharing it.
    I really like “The Hand Made Loaf”, by Dan Lepard.
    It was the first bread making book I got, and still the one I use more often.

    1. Thanks, Ander!

      “The Hand Made Loaf” is very good indeed. While I haven’t baked that many of the breads in the book, I have learned a lot from it, especially the sections about barm and sprouting.

  2. Great list! I would definitely add a couple to it:

    Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1845333896?ie=UTF8&camp=3194&creative=21330&creativeASIN=1845333896&linkCode=shr&tag=sumptionorg-21&qid=1401361742&sr=8-3&keywords=dan+lepard – which explains Lepard’s minimal kneading approach as well as giving a great selection of recipes and photographs from craft bakeries around the world.

    Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1906502870?ie=UTF8&camp=3194&creative=21330&creativeASIN=1906502870&linkCode=shr&tag=sumptionorg-21&qid=1401361843&sr=8-1&keywords=elizabeth+david+bread – which is a slightly dated but very comprehensive review of all aspects of bread-making, which includes some great excerpts from historical sources dating back many centuries. Not great as a recipe book (although it does include many recipes), but really good as a resource for learning as much as possible about bread.

    1. Thanks, Dan! I already have The Handmade Loaf in my book shelf, but the other book is new to me. I will check it out.

      1. Thanks for the reminder, Henry and Lien!

        In hindsight, I’m not sure why I left Bread off the list. You are right, it should be included.

    1. I would also agree completely that Hamelman’s “Bread” is truly THE definitive bread baking book. Nothing else matches its depth. I also believe that Dan Leader’s 1st book “Bread Alone” should be in the top 5 of all time. It can’t be denied that Mr. Leader was among the very first believers that a complete volume dedicated to French-technique bread baking was not only marketable, but a best-seller as well. It wasn’t just the recipes that inspired so many of us, but his inexhaustible travels that served as a template for us to do the same. And I’ll add that I’ve not enjoyed any of the Tartine Bread books. Don’t you feel a little ripped-off when all you get is countless variations on the same, single recipe? I sure did.

  3. For my experience, Andrew Whitley Bread Matters was an important step in focussing on what I cared about, good food on the table for my family rather than the frustrations of keeping enough steam in my oven…

    1. One more thumb up for Andrew Whitley here! His book Bread Matters is just more like philosophy novel and not so technical and professional book on bread as could anyone expect. He just hit the subject of “good food” with his writing style.

      1. Luca, Tomas, thanks for this reminder — it’s been too long since I last read Bread Matters! Cheers!

  4. Thanks! Some of the books you recommended are already on my wishlist! I have got such a huge collection of books, over a hundred of them in Spanish,French,and Chinese.(excluding the numerous websites, video clips and DVDs) It’s going to take a life time to get through them all. I agree we should learn from many other bakers inorder to become better bakers ourselves. Bread science is a must have! I learned so much from it and I have become a much better baker through understanding what is going on every step of the way. Afterall, baking is a science. Cheers!

    1. Thank you, Chiman!

      I can’t read Chinese, but if you could recommend some good books in Spanish or French, that would be awesome! Cheers!

  5. A list of bread making books without Le Goût du Pain (The Taste of Bread)by Raymond Calvel or Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman is like a bread made without salt; sure, it can be called ‘bread’ but it never rises to its true potential.

    1. A caveat about Calvel’s book: while a classic, and worth reading and including in a list of
      “must have’s,” it’s NOT geared to the home baker – lots of higher-end technical stuff in there. That said, my fave line from the book remains: “Professor Calvel finds the current fashion of pointed ends (on baguettes) to be particulary irksome.”

      1. Raymond Calvel’s book has been on my wish list for a long time, but it’s quite hard to get hold of (at least at a price that I feel comfortable with :)). But yeah, from what I’ve heard (and based on Professor Calvel’s fame) it’s a book worth owning.

        They should make another printing of the book…

  6. I agree with Dan Lepard’s ‘The Handmade Loaf’, and I’d also add two American books: Jeffrey Hamelman’s ‘Bread’ and Peter Reinhard’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice’. The only niggle I have with them, as a European, is that the quantities for the home baker are not given in metric, but they are full of good breads, interesting information, and give quantities for bakeries as well as home bakers.

  7. Hi Jarkko,
    Great selection! Let me add three books, two in English and one in Spanish.

    Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman. A real bible of bread and baking. Wide variety of recipes and techniques. Clear, simple, some previous knowledge is recommended. And, ehem, … we have published in November the Spanish translation by Iban Yarza 😉

    Bread Baking: An Artisan’s Perspective, by D. DiMuzio. A more technical approach. Almost as school book. Divided into lessons, with Q&A, charts, etc.

    And last but not least,

    Pan Casero, by Ibán Yarza. Publish in october, more than 40,000 copies sold and raising. Clear, simple, fresh. If you can understand French you surely will be able to read it. Absolutely mandatory for everyone that can understand Spanish. Best 15 euros spent ever

    1. Iban’s book has been on my list of books to check out ever since it came out. I have studied some Spanish, so maybe I’ll be able to read it… I should definitely give it a go.

      Thank you for the suggestions, Lucas!

    1. Thanks Chris! Good to see many of you suggest DiMuzio. I had missed that one so far — will check it out.

  8. +1 for Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Thanks for including the two wood fire oven books. I have a wood fire oven and I was unaware those books existed.

    1. Thanks Bill! I love both of those books, and I don’t even have a wood-fired oven. I’m sure you’ll like them!

  9. The two books by Ciril Hitz; Baking Artisan Bread and Baking Artisan Pastries & Breads have been great additions to my collection of baking books.

    1. Thanks, Jim!

      I have one book from Ciril Hitz in my collection — the name is different but I’m thinking it must be the European version of Baking Artisan Bread. It was among the first bread books I read, and I must agree, a very good introduction to the craft.

  10. I’m not looking for pretty photography or stories. I’d like to find a good resource for shaping techniques. All the bread books I’ve consulted (and that’s many!) have done a very poor job of it.

    1. I would suggest that shaping, being more a motion thing, would be better offered as video on the internets. A written description, even with several photos, isn’t going to give the same punch as actually watching a baker do the moves.

      Some bakers’ videos do the shaping then slow the moves down so you can see what’s actually going on, and may even change camera angles to let you see it from a different view.

      If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is probably in the millions.

      1. I must agree with Paul here. Videos are a lot better at explaining shaping than books can ever be.

        That said, one book with very good step by step photos is “A Passion for Bread” by Lionel Vatinet. You may want to look it up and see if it does the job.

        Cheers!

  11. Daniel Wing’s and Alan Scott’s The Bread Builders is more than a how-to build wood fired ovens. The first section of the book is the best discussion of the sourdough process I have come across (I bake a lot of sourdoughs). Given that Wing is a physician, you can expect some pretty technical information, but once you follow his train of thought, the understanding of fermentation of dough is unbeatable.

    1. Ah, yes! That’s an important clarification. This book is a very good treatise on bread in general — both technical, scientific even, and beautiful at the same time.

      Thank you for the comment, Joy!

  12. Hi!
    I just wanted to ask about your opinion on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible, for nobody mentioned it here. But it is the best book I ever owned, regarding not only bread but baking in general, and it taught me everything I know, which results in not getting any bread or pastry from shops for several years already…

    1. Thank you for the comment and the book mention, Julie! I must admit I haven’t read that book, but will check it out now 🙂

  13. My current favorite is Daniel Leader’s “Local Breads.” The complaints about errata are justified (he has a list of corrections on his website). Despite that (you’ll see the mistakes if you have some experience), this is the book to find both recipes and techniques from all over Europe.
    There are beautiful illustrations of shaping techniques and knockout photos of the breads.

  14. After moving to the US I learned bread baking (had to!) from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and “Whole Grain Breads”. Of all the bread baking books I’ve read (my shelves are sagging from their weight) he is no doubt the best teacher, explaining things in way even absolute beginners can understand.
    For German speaker I recommend Lutz Geissler’s “Das Brotbackbuch”. It’s a pity that so little effort is made to translate baking books (including European/American flour type “translation”).

  15. If you’re interested in the science behind your baking, then Paula Figoni’s ‘How Baking Works’ is a must. It’s a text book and makes a superb reference work.

    And don’t forget Peter Reinhart’s ‘Whole Grain Breads’.

  16. Flour Water Salt Yeast. In the recipe Overnight Country Brown could Mr. Forkish have intended to bulk ferment 12-15 hours in a refrigerator rather than room temp (77-78 degrees F)? With the recipe which is printed under final dough, the levain (216 gm) comprises 29% baker’s percentage. I tried this and the inevitable results are overfemented dough after 12 hours. Perhaps this is an error since under the baker’s formula insert the baker’s percentage for levain is 12%. I suspect this is not intended to represent the amount of flour in the total formula as mentioned under the asterisk but rather the % levain in baker’s percentage. Twelve percent levain might be a more reasonable approach for bulk fermentation of 12-15 hours.
    I have tried to find if any published errata addresses this issue but have been unsuccessful. My suggestions for anyone else attempting this recipe would be to retard the bulk fermentation in a refrigerator for 12 hours using the current recipe or diminish the amount of total levain to 12%.

  17. Thanks for your recommendations. I bought my boyfriend Flour Water Salt Yeast for Christmas and it’s perfect. I’m so pleased that you recommended it in such a way, the level of detail is exactly what I was looking for!

  18. Hi Jarkko,
    Could you give some advice on a book/books that are suited for a professional chef with too much time on his hands, that is looking to bake some bread. My dilemma is, are the books in metric, imperial or percentages as I am from Australia and now live in Italy I work in the metric system, I have worked in the U.K and though it’s not a problem to do the conversions I don’t have that much time on my hands.
    Cheers Brett

    1. Hey Brett! Most books on this list are metric and also use the bakers’ percentages on the side.

      If you’re looking to bake bread somewhat professionally, maybe in support of your work as a chef, I’m thinking you might find Hamelman’s book, Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes (http://amzn.to/1LE7MrO) interesting. If I remember correctly, it has the measurements in both metric and imperial, as well as percentages.

      For getting started with bread and understanding the process, I’d still suggest Forkish’s book listed above.

      I hope this helps! Happy baking!

      1. I would definitely recommend Peter Reinhart’s ‘Bread Revolution’ especially if you’re interested in sourdough. Reinhart comes up with a decent formula using unsweetened pineapple juice. Check out the ‘King Arthur’ website (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/) which has loads of info and a decent article about the above from Debra Wink. Great blog Jarkko and a warm hello from the North of Scotland

  19. What is the best #1 book if you have no baking experience, but wish to learn/start baking bread? The best beginners guide (in english). : ) Thank You, Ellie

    1. Hi Ellie! There are a few great ones. Richard Bertinet’s Dough is still good. So is Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread. Maybe a bit more complicated, but still good for a beginner too (I think), is Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast.

      I’m sure there are others too, but if you pick one of these three, I’m convinced you won’t go wrong 🙂

      Happy baking!

      1. I am a very new baker. Just baked my third loaf from Vatinet’s book. The pictures made it easy and he has very good tips and explanation. He gives options on how to mix by hand or macine and how to adjust for temperature. Bread was excellent.

  20. Thanks for the list, but what if I want middle eastern bread recipes, do you know a good book about this subject?

  21. “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. This was the first bread book I got. Even though bread baking trends have evolved a bit since its release (especially due to the rising popularity of sourdough breads), the tips and techniques in this book are still invaluable. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to buy their first book and wants to get started with bread baking.

  22. Advanced Bread and Pastry from Michel Suas, for me the Bakers Bible, the author is a pro French baker, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute in USA

  23. Hello, I was wondering if all these books are also great for someone who bakes almost exclusively with sourdough. I’ve been baking for a couple of years with satisfactory results but want to bring my bread baking to another level! Thanks!

    1. Hi Vanessa!

      That’s a great question. I should actually review the list with that (and new releases) in mind, as it’s been a while since this post was published.

      All of these books will teach you something new, but maybe, as you’re already baking bread, you should skip the more beginner-oriented ones such as Crust. I’m thinking Tartine or Tartine Book 3 might be great for you. Or maybe one of the classics, such as Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman… Or Bread Science (from the list, by Emily Buehler). It’s self-published and not as pretty as the others, but it’s one of the books I’ve learned the most from.

      This new book (coming out next week), looks very promising too: http://amzn.to/2m4tIaT

      I hope you’ll find something you like! There are so many good books to choose from that it sometimes becomes difficult to pick just one 😀

      Happy baking!

  24. I started with Josey Baker Bread, and I love it! It took me from using a bread machine to making sourdough loaves from a starter I started. I just ordered Tartine Bread, and I like what you had to say about it. Now I need to add Flour Water Salt Yeast to my wish list! Have you checked out Josey Baker Bread?

  25. How about Baking Bread by Martin Philip, is it good? I have been baking bread for the past 7 months and would want to start buying books.. this was the only one available in the bookshop