- Baking cookbooks can help you perfect your pie crust, sourdough bread, or chocolate chip cookies.
- We tapped expert bakers Joanne Chang and Amber Croom to share their favorite baking books.
- The books cover the basics as well as how to master French pastries and temper chocolate.
It’s no secret baking is a science – only the right ingredients interact properly to create chewy cookies, flaky pie crust, and airy cakes. Pastry chefs work hard to get those measurements right, and many pass on their knowledge in beautiful cookbooks. But which ones belong on your bookcase?
I reached out to James Beard Award Winner Joanne Chang (owner of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang in Boston) and “Chopped Sweets” Winner Amber Croom (owner of And 4 Dessert confectionary studio in Baltimore) to find out which cookbooks every beginner and expert home baker needs. Many of the picks are classics that have been around for years, with the best now in its second, revised edition.
For those who learn better by watching, I also combed through hours of videos to find the best YouTube channel for upgrading your baking skills, plus an online platform that brings some of the best pastry chefs’ classes right into your kitchen.
These baking cookbooks belong in any kitchen library, whether you’re looking to perfect your chocolate chip cookies, want to become an authority on French patisserie, or simply love a great homemade loaf of sourdough.
10 great expert-recommended baking books and online baking resources:
“Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites” by Elisabeth M. Pruett and Chad Robertson
The original edition of the “Tartine” cookbook was published in 2006 and became an instant classic among pastry chefs, home bakers, and fans of the legendary San Francisco bakery. “It’s gorgeous, the pastries are both familiar and special, the recipes WORK,” says Chang. “It’s so inspiring to read and I love every page.” For the award-winning 2019 edition, Pruett and Robertson doubled the number of recipes with all-new photography, making this a must-have for any cookbook collection.
The best beginner baking book
While new bakers may dream of macarons, it’s easier to start with simple American recipes and slowly learn the science behind your bakes. Those two reasons alone are why “BraveTart” is the perfect cookbook to start exploring in the kitchen. Parks not only incorporates great stories for each recipe; she composes each one in a way that professional chefs and home bakers can use, says Croom. “BraveTart is amazing — all of the pastries you grew up with as a kid, but made by a master baker,” adds Chang.
The best bread baking book
Jim Lahey turned the pastry world upside down with the publication “My Bread,” which proved bread machines and exhausting kneading techniques aren’t necessary. “He started a bread revolution with his way of baking bread and every loaf I’ve ever had from this book tastes just like it does in his bakeries Sullivan St Bakery,” says Chang. More than a decade later, its flawless recipes are still a must-have for anyone who wants to bake bread at home.
The best cake baking book
Every home baker has a story about a cake disaster since they are incredibly tricky to get right. Rose Levy Berenbaum’s classic “The Cake Bible” has taught a whole generation of bakers the mistakes to avoid, and everything else you need to know to turn out delicious cakes. “It has every single cake you can ever imagine and Rose is generous with her expertise and knowledge,” says Chang. “I’ve learned so much about cake baking just from reading and baking through this book.”
Th best chocolate baking book
Chocolate makes gorgeous desserts that are a delight to eat, but it can be quite temperamental and frustrates even the most expert of pastry chefs. “Chocolate,” from the famous culinary school Ferrandi Paris, gives readers step-by-step instructions to master the medium. “It covers everything from utensils to tempering chocolate,” says Croom. “It’s like going to a chocolate academy without the price tag, but in book form.”
The best French pastry baking book
Mastering patisserie takes time, patience, and a lot of butter. Jacquy Pfeiffer, the founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, created “The Art of French Pastry” as a comprehensive guide that helps readers with the fundamentals and gives easy-to-follow instructions. “You can tell from every recipe in the book that Chef Pfeiffer has years of teaching classic French pastries,” says Croom.
The best pie baking book
Erin Jeanne McDowell, whose work is regularly featured in “The New York Times,” Food 52, and on Food Network Kitchen, is one of America’s foremost experts on pies. In this pie cookbook, “she covers everything you could ever want to know about creating the perfect pie,” says Croom. That includes everything from making the flakiest crusts and picturesque decorations to mastering savory pies.
The best whole grain baking book
Baking with whole-grain flours can help home bakers create delicious desserts beyond the usual all-purpose flour. “Good to the Grain” features 75 recipes that cover a dozen different whole-grain flours, from buckwheat to teff. “You will learn so much about how different flours enhance both taste and texture of baked goods,” says Chang. Boyce does utilize white flour in her recipes, so this is good for those beginning to experiment with different flours.
Th best baking online courses
Created by Chefs Sébastien Canonne and Jacquy Pfeiffer, The Butter Book is a portal to everything a burgeoning pastry expert needs. It houses more than 170 baking video lessons, articles, a glossary, and courses on bread making, classic pastries, and cake decorating. The platform is available for $25 a month, or $200 for a year.
The best YouTube channel for baking
Food 52’s YouTube channel is great for exploring new desserts or figuring out your latest baking mistake. The channel features two baking-focused series, “Bake It Up a Notch!” with Erin Jeanne McDowell and “Our Best Baking Lesson.” Baking projects do come up in their other series though, like Sohla El-Waylly’s “How to Make Any Type of Pound Cake” or Rick Martinez’s lesson on buñuelos.