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.**
My Recommendations For Your Collection of Bread Making Books
Ken Forkish: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!