The Best Bread Books For Your Quarantine Baking

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Annika Barranti Klein

Contributing Editor

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

You might have noticed that everyone is baking bread now that we’re all at home all the time. Going to the grocery store is a tense experience, and shelves are sometimes emptied of basics. If you were able to secure a supply of flour (and maybe yeast), you might be wondering what the heck you were thinking. Perhaps you’ve never baked bread, or it’s been a while. Maybe you only know one recipe and don’t have the right kind of flour, or couldn’t get any yeast. These bread books are all either my personal recommendations, come recommended by a baking friend of mine, and/or are by a well-known baker.

Please note: the cookbook world skews very white and very male, and the baking book world glaringly so.

Tried-and-True Bread Books

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by by Jeff Hertzberg, MD (Author), Zoë François (Author), and Stephen Scott Gross (Photographer)

This is the book that got me back into bread baking as an adult, and I think it speaks pretty highly of the book that I was able to consistently make great bread when my children were toddlers. If you don’t know how you’ll balance working from home, distance learning, and baking, this book has the answers.

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa

I don’t make sourdough bread (YET) but my friend Rachelle does, and she highly recommends this book. In addition to covering how to make a starter and basic loaf recipes, chapters include: Recipes for Leftover Sourdough Starter, Whole-Grains & Specialty Flours, Sweet & Savory Artisan Loaves, Pan Loaves, Focaccia, and more.

Bread Alone by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik

My current go-to book, based on the breads from Leader’s bakery of the same name, which happens to be my hometown bakery. Although this is an older title, I got a copy recently and have been re-learning to make bread that requires actual work like kneading. It’s exhausting and so, so worth it if you’re physically able! I look forward to recreating the whole wheat walnut loaf that was my favorite in the 1990s, and which (as far as I can tell) they no longer sell.

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish

This book covers baking breads started with a poolish or biga (the French and Italian words for a pre-ferment with a mixture of water, flour, and yeast) and breads made with sourdough starter; recipes are for breads and pizzas, AKA the two food groups, and this book comes highly recommended. I don’t own it yet, but I plan to.

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen

I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but it looks so, so good and it’s full of international recipes, going far beyond the mostly French, Italian, and American recipes in most bread books.

Josey Baker Bread: Get Baking – Make Awesome Bread – Share the Loaves by Josey Baker (Author) and Erin Kunkel (Photographer)

Another recommendation from a friend, I am recommending this one based entirely on the gorgeous social media images I’ve seen of breads baked from these recipes. Am I shallow, or just hungry? Maybe both.

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger

A book for more advanced bakers, Tartine loaves require some baking knowledge and a bit more attention, but the end results are unmatched. If you’ve mastered the basics of bread making, pick up this book and take it to the next level.

Newer Bread Books

A Baker’s Year by Tara Jensen

Jensen offers week-long baking retreats in Virginia and Kentucky, which is how I learned of her—a couple years ago my friend Rachel (not the same person as Rachelle who I mentioned earlier!) went to “baking camp” and I lived vicariously through her Instagram. Now I get recipes via Jensen’s Instagram and newsletter and I have ordered a copy of this 2018 book.

Bread Baking for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Baking Kneaded Breads, No-Knead Breads, and Enriched Breads by Bonnie Ohara

A volume for true beginners, this book covers everything you need to know to make many types of bread, and to troubleshoot when something goes wrong in your bread baking.

Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman

I wouldn’t normally include a second cookbook by the same author except as an aside, but Bread Alone was published in 1993, and I imagine Leader got some new and exciting ideas over the 26 years between then and this book publication in late 2019. I haven’t bought this one yet, and I’m kicking myself for walking out of the actual Bread Alone bakery last fall without a copy.

100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood (June 16, 2020)

Look, I’ve never read a Paul Hollywood cookbook, but I have watched every season of The Great British Baking Show and I think that makes me a Paul Hollywood expert. He is so very fussy about breads, and I’m looking forward to finding out what he says makes a good loaf. This book is out in June. In the meantime, you might check out his 2013 title, Paul Hollywood’s Bread.

Further Reading

Must-Read Baking Books on Book Riot

The Perfect Loaf: an online guide to baking