The world of professional cooking and baking—and everything that goes with it, from cookbook writing to celebrity chef television series—has long been dominated by white men. But like all industries dominated (or seemingly dominated) by white men, there have always, always been women doing brilliant work for just as long and with less recognition.
If you are into baking, right now is good time to be alive. With the popularity of shows like The Great British Baking Show, more and more women chefs, especially women of color, are getting the recognition and attention they deserve. These books represent both newcomers to the baking world and women who’ve been at it for a long time. Some of them own bakeries and restaurants; some of them are charming the internet with their mouthwatering Instagram accounts and YouTube cooking channels. Luckily for all of us, they’ve shared their talent with the world in these gorgeous baking books, so we can all aspire to be as badass and awesome in the kitchen as they are.
Get out your whisks and spoons, folks, because you are going to want to head straight to the kitchen with these fabulous baking cookbooks by women of color.
Pastry Love by Joanne Chang
All of Joanne Chang’s cookbooks are amazing. Her newest is full of the same charm and whimsy that captivated so many bakers (including me) in Flour and Flour, Too. The recipes are fabulous, but it’s Chang’s warmth and enthusiasm, imbued in every page, that makes this book irresistible. She’s so down-to-earth and friendly; she makes you feel like you can bake anything.
Here you’ll find everything from lowkey muffins and simple scones (the currant spelt oat scones are divine) to more complicated brioches, Danish-style pastries, pies, confections, and layer cakes. There’s a super useful section at the end that gives step-by-step instructions for various pastry basics, including brioche dough, puff pastry, pate brisee, frangipane, lemon curd, and more. It’s hard not to love a book that celebrates such fun, kid-friendly recipes as homemade devil dogs and sticky bun popcorn right alongside elegant creations like olive oil cake with fresh grapes and bittersweet chocolate orange truffle tart.
This book is sure to keep you busy baking for a long time, but if you ever get out of the kitchen and find yourself in Boston, treat yourself to a stop at one of the many Flour bakeries—you won’t regret it.
Baking at Republique by Margarita Manzke
I hadn’t heard of Margarita Manzke’s Republique Bakery in L.A. until I got this cookbook, and now I am sad that I live on the opposite coast because the sheer beauty and volume of the pastries they put out in their case every day makes me want to hop on a plane right now.
Instead, I’ll have to console myself with Manzke’s gorgeous cookbook, which is helpfully divided into sections based on kinds of pastry: brioche, croissants, pate a choux, pate sucree, cakes, and custards to name a few. While this book certainly has its share of simpler recipes (spiced shortbread cookies, blackberry and nectarine crisp, strawberry white chocolate scones), Manzke truly shines when she is demystifying complex pastries for home bakers. Her step-by-step instructions for making croissants are easy to follow, and once you’ve got that down, you can start getting really fancy and make the mouthwatering salted caramel croissant knots or blood orange kumquat twists.
Sprinkled throughout these French-leaning recipes are traditional Filipino desserts, many of which Manzke remembers fondly from her childhood. I can’t wait to try Bibingka, a Filipino rice cake made with coconut milk.
Sweet by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi
Yes, I realize this book is co-authored by a man. That’s all the more reason to include it on this list, I think. Ottolenghi is so famous in the cooking world that his name often eclipses his co-author’s, which is a huge shame, considering all the work and creativity that Helen Goh obviously put into this book. She is an incredible baker and chef who deserves as much recognition as anyone else. (And I highly recommend her Instagram.)
I have a lot of baking cookbooks, and Sweet is one of my favorites. It’s got a lovely blend of recipes that highlight flavor combinations you might not come up with on your own and recipes that are a bit more straightforward (take home chocolate cake, for example, or lemon and raspberry cupcakes). Some of the cookie recipes in this book are so good that they’ve earned a permanent place in my holiday baking rotation (hello, soft gingerbread tiles with rum butter glaze), and the tahini and halvah brownies are pretty much the most delicious thing ever. Like the best cookbooks, this one’s got something for adventurous and novice bakers alike. It’s as inspiring as it is useful, and sometimes a little inspiration in the kitchen is exactly what you need.
The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan
Fans of The Great British Baking Show will remember Chetna from one of the show’s earlier seasons; her charming personality and down-to-earth humor made her a joy to watch. Her flavor-packed, often Indian-inspired bakes always made me desperately hungry. Since her Baking Show days, she’s gone on to write several cookbooks and start a successful YouTube channel, Food with Chetna. If your dream diet involves Indian food plus cake, you should definitely subscribe.
In her first baking book, Chetna infuses the spices and flavors of her native India into classic British and European bakes. You’ll find plenty of cookies, pastries and cake recipes here (she had me at black sesame and lime cake), but there are also recipes for a whole slew of savory bakes, from chickpea curry pie to buckwheat potato pakoras. Throughout the book, she highlights some of her favorite spices (saffron, fennel, coriander, tamarind, to name a few), giving a brief culinary history of each along with a handy index of all the recipes that use that spice. It’s been a long time since flipping through a cookbook made me so hungry!
The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi
I was beyond thrilled when I learned that Benjamina Ebuehi, another of my favorite Baking Show contestants, had written a cookbook. Like her bakes on the show, this book is full of delicious, creative and elegant cakes. While I love baking books that are broad in scope, it’s always nice to have a few that focus in on one thing, and this book does that beautifully.
Ebuehi cleverly organizes the book into themed sections—nuts and caramel, spices, chocolate, citrus, floral and fruit. It makes it easy to find a cake you’ll love, whether it’s a bundt cake, a layer cake, or a loaf cake. I personally can’t wait to try the hidden pear cake, and I was definitely drooling at the picture of cardamom cake with mulled wine jam. In addition to being a talented baker and recipe writer, Ebuehi is a food stylist, and it shows: every cake in this book, in addition to sounding absolutely scrumptious, is utterly stunning.
Looking for more baking cookbooks? Check out this list of must-read baking books for starters. If that’s not enough, how about these delightful cookbooks all about cookies? And if, like me, you can’t get enough of Baking Show, here’s a list of over 70 cookbooks written by contestants and judges.