Baking is a science. It requires technique and an understanding of how the ingredients and their exact quantities combine to produce savoury or sweet breads and pastries.
But it’s also an art form. Once one masters the basics, baking provides countless opportunities for culinary creativity. That’s why lots of people find baking both therapeutic and inspirational.
The best baking cookbooks are a combination of both aspects. They provide technical expertise for newbies and spur experienced bakers to be creative in their baking projects.
When buying a baking cookbook, choose one that’s written well and offers something for both newbies and skilled bakers. The recipes should be understandable and accessible. Some books will be more technically-oriented than others and will require some familiarity with basic baking techniques but if it’s written in a user-friendly way, anyone will be able to follow it.
Among baking pros, it’s possible to have a collection of baking cookbooks because a baker is never done learning. And for newbies, the right baking cookbook can ease the anxiety of learning how to follow a baking recipe.
Choose baking books that have lots of photos for their recipes. Step-by-step color photos are very helpful in guiding the user throughout the baking process. Depending on your skill level, this will allow you to learn the technique properly, or correct and refine your baking skills.
One important feature in any cookbook is using the proper metric when measuring ingredients. Because baking is an exact science, the slightest deviation from the required quantity will throw off the quality of your bread. But American bakers have so far resisted the use of weight-based measurements, preferring instead the English measurement system that uses cups and tablespoons.
Some baking books work around this by providing a table for metric conversion. The best ones use both the metric and English systems directly in their recipes. The US versions of some beloved British baking books will retain the use of metric but if you have a weighing scale around, you can easily use the recipes. And there’s always ole reliable Google to provide you a metric conversion table.
A cookbook should also be durable enough to withstand constant use in the kitchen. Look for a strong spine, thick pages, and good quality binding which allow the book to lay flat when opened. Hardbound books can be heavy but paperback versions are available for most books. Some users may find digital versions more convenient but there’s nothing like a beloved cookbook that shows signs of wear like flour-dusted pages and sauce stains.
Most of all, a great baking cookbook should have fool-proof and interesting recipes. Here are ten of the best ones out on Amazon now. If you want more ideas for the kitchen, why not check out dessert cookbooks or snack cookbooks too?
Best Baking Cookbooks
- How to Bake Hardcover – Illustrated
- Rose's Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos Hardcover – Illustrated
- Nadiya Bakes
- Bread Baking for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Baking Kneaded Breads, No-Knead Breads, and Enriched Breads Paperback
- Bigger Bolder Baking: A Fearless Approach to Baking Anytime, Anywhere Hardcover
- Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts from the Queen of Cake Hardcover – Illustrated
- Beginner's Baking Bible: 130+ Recipes and Techniques for New Bakers Paperback
- The Baking Bible Hardcover – Illustrated
- How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
1. How to Bake Hardcover – Illustrated
Even if you’re not a fan of Hollywood and The Great British Bake-Off, there’s much to learn from this baking cookbook. It has 120 recipes, two-thirds of it devoted to making breads, and the rest features delicious recipes for pastries, cakes, and biscuits.
Written in a conversational style, this book does a good job of breaking down the how’s and the why’s of baking anything and avoiding soggy bottoms. Recipes are written in clear, concise steps and are accompanied by lots of photos. It also has a large print so that it’s easy to read for older eyes.
This book uses weight-based metric measurements, which shouldn’t be a problem if you have a weighing scale or a conversion calculator. One reader noted, however, that the recipes use British nomenclature for the ingredients. For example, strong wholemeal bread flour means whole wheat flour. If this nomenclature doesn’t bother you, then this book is a solid addition to any baker’s essential collection of baking cookbooks.
2. Rose's Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook will introduce the beginner to classic American baking. The collection features recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, and other traditional favorites like beer bread.
The recipes are easy to follow and are accompanied by helpful instructions on how to make variations. There’s a section for pastry basics which are very detailed. The recipes are ranked according to increasing level of difficulty and include options for kitchen equipment, as well as troubleshooting tips.
More importantly, the book gives measurements in both volume and mass which should appeal to everyone. Readers also loved the quality of the book; it has thick pages and lays flat when opened. There’s also an attached ribbon bookmark for easy reference to recipes.
3. Nadiya Bakes
This cookbook features all the recipes that are shown in Nadiya's latest cooking show. The recipes are a mix of her trademark original recipes and her creative takes on classic British favorites. There are over 100 recipes in this book which are categorized into 8 chapters covering biscuits, bread, cakes, no-bake desserts, pies, tarts and more.
The recipes are easy to do since this book has been designed for the home cook. It’s written in Nadiya’s engaging style and has lots of her down-to-earth tips so that even newbies will not be daunted by the recipes.
The book has a pastel colour scheme which looks easy on the eyes. The photos are gorgeous, although one reader noted that there are not enough photographs to accompany the recipes. Don’t worry; if you need more visual references, there’s always her show to watch on BBC and YouTube.
4. Bread Baking for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Baking Kneaded Breads, No-Knead Breads, and Enriched Breads
This is a cookbook written by a self-taught baker that’s designed to guide newbies into making homemade savoury and sweet breads effortlessly. It features 32 recipes for kneaded breads, no-knead breads, and enriched breads
Readers loved this book because it has plenty of easy tutorials to make any bread lover into an accomplished artisanal bread home baker. It starts with an overview of the bread making process which includes info on prep, proof time, and key terminologies. The recipes are then broken down step-by-step to make them easy for the reader to follow. The recipes are also arranged so that each on builds upon the prior. They are accompanied by lots of photos that show the procedures and how the final product looks.
There’s also a section on Common Problems and FAQs that offer the reader helpful troubleshooting tips. Overall, it’s a great cookbook to have to satisfy your artisanal bread fixation at home.
5. Bigger Bolder Baking: A Fearless Approach to Baking Anytime, Anywhere
This is another celebrity chef-fronted baking cookbook that features 100 recipes that anyone can make anytime and anywhere.
Unlike other cookbooks, this one is organized according to the basic tools that you need. For example, under Wooden Spoon and Bowl, you will find the recipes that will require the use of these tools and nothing else. In the No Oven Needed chapter, meanwhile, you will find all the no bake recipes that the writer has for this book.
The recipes are written in a folksy style and are accompanied by beautiful color photos. She also uses both metric and US style measurements and has a section on essential techniques, tips, and suggested substitutions for ingredients.
6. Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts from the Queen of Cake – Illustrated
This is a new edition of iconic cookbook author Maida Heatter’s collection of modern classic dessert recipes. It doesn’t have photos but uses illustrations of ingredients and kitchen equipment to outline the recipes.
A Haetter recipe is famous because it will always work and because it is impossible to improve. Measurements are given in a mix of weight and volume metrics. As long as one follows the recipe’s instruction strictly, the final product will be delicious.
The cookbook is written with her trademark warmth and in a no-nonsense style that emphasizes technical knowledge and precision. If you’re the type of home baker who finds comfort in standardized recipes that leave no room for variation, this cookbook will appeal to you.
7. Beginner's Baking Bible: 130+ Recipes and Techniques for New Bakers Paperback
Designed for the newbie, this cookbook goes through all the essential ingredients, techniques, and tools that any baker must have and know. There’s a section for learning how to measure, mix, knead, cream butter/sugar, and whip eggs.
There’s a wide range of recipes ranging from the traditional to the unique ones. The recipes are user-friendly and are accompanied with step-by-step photos of the baking techniques. Readers like the book layout because it’s easy to read which is very convenient when one is making the recipes.
This cookbook uses volume-based measurements so American bakers will find it easy to use. It also has a Tips and Tricks section that will help you substitute ingredients or troubleshoot the bake if you’re having problems with it.
8. The Baking Bible – Illustrated
This cookbook is packed with 250 recipes that come with detail-oriented instructions, “plan-aheads”, and troubleshooting tips. Recipes cover all kinds of breads, cookies and pastries, even including candy. This is a technique-rich book so it doesn’t have quick baking recipes but rather, multiple sub-recipes which may take an hour or more.
Readers love it because it is full of information. One said that this book is a “master class in all things flour, sugar, and butter.” One comes away from the book with the knowledge that it is the mastery of technique that differentiates a great baker from a good one.
The recipes come with metric and US style measurements. Some of the ingredients may require some sourcing but overall, they can be easily done in a home kitchen or a bakery. This may not appeal to the faint-hearted novice baker; this is a cookbook for those willing to slave for hours in the kitchen in order to produce great breads and pastries.
9. How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking Hardcover – Illustrated
This is the most comprehensive cookbook on this list with some 2,000 recipes and variations, covering everything from American classic and modern favorites to global baking staples. It simplifies the baking process with easy-to-do recipes accompanied by extensive illustrations on baking techniques.
There’s a section that introduces newbies to the essential equipment needed for baking, along with with a list full of ingredient substitutions. For professional bakers, there’s a chapter on how to adapt recipes to become vegan, create new tarts, or use new grains. There’s even a mix-and-match chart that can be used to create customized icebox cakes.
Readers like the style because it gives them room to tweak the recipes. Bittman encourages creativity among his readers by including lots of suggestions on how to personalize each baked goodie. If there is anything lacking in this book, it is the lack of measurement in weights. This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone used to volume-based metrics.
10. The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
This is an updated edition of a bestselling cookbook that combines culinary science, advanced bread techniques, and food history. It has been revised to include metrics and temperature conversion charts, and has a section on desired dough temperature calculations. There are also 3 new bread recipes included.
This cookbook features 53 master recipes for classic breads like rustic ciabatta, hearty pain de campagne, and New York bagels. The first part delves into the science of bread making and outlines each step and why it is important. The second part is the recipe section which is accompanied by more than 100 step-by-step photographs. There are no quick recipes here as this book promotes slow rise baking and using pre-ferments.
Readers like this book because it gives them a solid foundation for bread making. If you’re a newbie or an intermediate cook who’s serious with learning how to make excellent artisanal bread of any kind, this book is for you.
ROSE’S BAKING BASICS: 100 ESSENTIAL RECIPES by Rose Levy Beranbaum
What sets this cookbook apart from the rest of the cookbooks that contain extensive baking information is that it does not overwhelm the reader. Its presentation is paced well enough so that the reader can digest the info at his own leisure. There’s ample discussion of technique which is useful for beginners but this book will also benefit intermediate bakers because it will reinforce and hone their own techniques.
The recipe selection is also great and filled with traditional favorites that a reader will actually make on a regular basis. It also does not rely on exotic ingredients. There are also a lot of step-by-step photos and the measurements are both in weight and volume.
If you’re looking for a no-fuss cookbook that teaches you how to properly bake the first time and gives you fool-proof recipes, this is the book you should read.