Few things have brought me as much comfort during this wild year as the Great British Baking Show. Sure, I’m late to the game; the show is ten years old, first airing back in 2010. This show is like a warm hug. It’s wholesome and sweet (see what I did there?), and the contestants are always endearing and oh-so-funny, in a super British way.
And inevitably, if you spend as much time as I have watching episodes—old and new—of this charming show, you’re going to want to start baking. So, I’ve got some baking cookbooks for you!
For Bread Week
Paul Hollywood’s Bread by Paul Hollywood
We’re starting off with a classic cookbook by GBBO judge Paul Hollywood. Paul Hollywood is known on the show for his piercing blue eyes, his withering stares, and—of course—his famous handshakes when a contestant gets it right. He’s also known for bread. This cookbook breaks bread down into six sections, and each has five recipes to try to master that technique.
Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread by Ken Forkish
I love a good fundamentals book, and this is a perfect book to learn the technicality of bread baking. In addition to recipes, it will also teach you about baker tools, techniques, ratios, and more. It’s also approachable, and devotes time to showing you how to incorporate bread baking into your day-to-day. Both a great resource, and a great cookbook!
For Biscuit Week
Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain
*Spoiler Alert* Nadiya is a beloved past GBBO winner, and this is her most popular cookbook. It covers all the themes you’ll usually see on the show, “cakes, biscuits, tray bakes, tarts and pies, show-stopping desserts, breads,” and more. She’s even got some very simple beginner and no-bake ideas in here.
For Cake Week
The New Way To Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi
Benjamina is another past contestant, and this cookbook is a tribute to her Nigerian heritage and her upbringing in London. It breaks cake down into six chapters: spice, chocolate, citrus, nuts and caramel, fruit, and floral. Some of the recipes are modernized versions of simple classics, but it does go all the way to advanced: baking a wedding cake!
For Patisserie Week
Patisserie week is usually one that separates out the most skilled bakers, because it’s such a precise art. But this cookbook, written by a baker who travels to France once per year to sample patisserie from all across the country, aims to make the art form simpler. It’s supposed to be a useable cookbook—one with recipes that aren’t too complicated to make, that utilize baking equipment you already have in your equipment. If you’re deep into GBBO and you’re ready to get fancy with the contestants, give this one a try!
Kim-Joy was one of my favorite contestants, because she always made the most artistic and creative baked creations. Each week it was always a delight to see what concept she would come up with to meet the week’s theme. And this cookbook reflects that creativity, it’s focused just as much on her expertise for decorating as it is baking. She’ll teach you the icing and piping techniques she’s famous for, and also a darling recipe for kitty cat macaroons—what more could you want?!
For Dessert Week
BraveTart By Stella Parks
This cookbook is packed with staple Americana desserts, from the cherry pie to blueberry muffins to fudge brownies. If you’re an American fan of the show, you’ll know that it’s always entertaining when the contestants fumble through something we grew up baking—like brownies—which happens every couple of seasons, so I can totally picture some of these classic American recipes as challenges.
Black Girl Baking By Jerrelle Guy
Guy calls this a soul food baking book, because it’s full of dessert recipes inspired by her upbringing in the American south. For example, she includes a sweetbread recipe that’s based off of the ambrosia salad her mom made growing up. This totally reminds me of a GBBO challenge, because they’re always asking the contestants to bring flavors of their heritage, or special memories unique to them, into their bakes. This cookbook is all about food memories.
For Pastry Week
My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats by Fanny Gerson
Fanny Gerson is a pastry chef who grew up in Mexico City. This cookbook includes classic recipes from her homeland, like paletas, churros, conchas, and various pan dulce. She incorporates history and culture lessons in with the recipes, as well as an exploration of traditional flavors and spices that are unique to the region. I really want to see the GBBO contestants make jamoncillo, a really colorful fudge recipe!
For Gluten-Free Week
Gluten-Free Flavor Flours By Alice Medrich
Every once and a while the show will toss in a challenge like vegan or gluten-free baking, in order to test the bakers’ true technical understanding of baking. This book perfectly encapsulates the technical side of gluten-free baking and how certain flours react to other ingredients. It also explores the flavor and texture benefits of certain alternative flours—for example, rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum, teff, and ancient grains—in certain bakes. I think this is a really original way to approach gluten-free baking, by creating delicious bakes that benefit from alternative flour choices, and explaining why.
Happy baking! I hope all your breads are perfectly proofed to Paul Hollywood’s standards! Need more baking cookbooks? Check out these Book Riot posts on bread baking books, and baking cookbooks by women of color.