If you’re looking for the best baking cookbooks, then look no further than these kitchen bookshelf blockbusters! We’ve gathered together a list of our proven favorites, with well-worn pages dotted with post-it bookmarks, so you can start whipping up delicious treats in no time.
Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just starting out, there’s a perfect baking cookbook for you. From classic cookies and cakes to modern masterpieces, these books have everything you need to bake it to the next level. So preheat your oven and get ready to bake up a storm!
Baking Perfection Starts With The Right Preparation
Baking is a fun and delicious way to spend time in the kitchen. Whether you’re baking for a special occasion or just for yourself, there’s nothing quite like homemade baked goods to lift your mood and comfort the soul.
With a little practice, and the right baking cookbooks by your side, anyone can become a master baker. But before you get your rolling pin out, here are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you’re looking for a perfect bake:
- Read the recipe in your cookbook thoroughly before beginning to bake. This will help you understand the ingredients and methods involved so that you’re fully prepared for each step before you get there.
- Preheat the oven and prepare your baking pan according to the recipe instructions.
- Be precise when measuring the ingredients. Baking is a science, so making sure the ingredients are correctly measured is crucial in the outcome of the finished product.
- Follow the recipe to the letter. Don’t try to change the foundations or formula. With baking, even a small change can result in an entirely different result.
- Be patient. Baked goods often take longer than other types of food to cook, so don’t be tempted to open the oven door frequently or remove them before they’re done. Doing so can cause them to become overcooked or even burnt.
Now that you know where to start, all you need is the right inspiration from some of the best baking books and pastry chefs around. Ready, set, bake!
1 How To Bake Everything
With 30 cookbooks under his apron, Mark Bittman knows a thing or two about cooking – and thousands of things about baking.
Cramming in more than 2,000 recipes across its pages, How to Bake Everything isn’t an exaggeration. It’s a hefty kitchen counter companion that guides you from your very first attempt at kneading dough, to the art of delicately assembling multi-layer pastries.
There are no pretty pictures here but lots of how-to illustrations and very good advice, covering everything you need to know through the whole baking process, from measuring and prepping to substituting and finessing.
If your kitchen library has space for an encyclopaedia of baking, this is it. But while you’re rolling, proofing and pre-heating, just be careful not to drop it on your toes – it’s a heavy one!
2 Bouchon Bakery
If you’re a slightly more confident baker looking to up your game and expand on your passion for all things floury, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery is a gorgeous choice.
Showcasing beautiful photos amongst an enormous collection of recipes, this baking cookbook is a masterclass in baking by Keller, the only American chef to have two restaurants graded with 3 Michelin stars each.
His standout advice is to throw your measuring cups away and start learning the importance of weighing your ingredients for the best results. It’s no surprise then that he also advocates patience and practice in developing your skills in the craft of baking.
Follow Keller’s suggestions and your perseverance will be rewarded as you serve up amazing pastries, breads and bakes, filled with decadent creams, curds and custards.
3 BraveTart – Iconic American Desserts
Rediscover the desserts we all know and love in this whimsical trip down sweet tooth lane, brought to life by Serious Eats editor Stella Parks, who combines recipes and stories about how these classics came to earn their rightful place in our good books.
Explore all your favourites all in one place, from vanilla wafers and cookie dough ice cream to majestic cakes, puddings, pies, cookies and floats.
If you’re looking for a new take on the originals, you’ll find those in BraveTart too, with over 200 customisations to bake things in a whole new direction.
BakeTart is a ray of nostalgic sunshine for your kitchen and presents you with ideas both familiar and exciting to read, make and taste on every page.
4 Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes
Dominique Ansel is the pastry chef who exploded into our lives in 2013 when he invented the Cronut (and yes, he includes the recipe in this cookbook), the half-croissant, half-doughnut sensation that the world has not been able to get enough of since then.
Far from a one-trick pony, Ansel is a baking magician and innovator, breaking new ground with breathtaking new desserts and baked goods from his now famous bakery in New York.
Dominique Ansel’s Secret Recipes leads you gently through his unique approach to baking, from the easiest pastry recipes right the way through to professional-grade dessert constructions. He’s also an amazing wordsmith and fascinating storyteller, with a journey to share that entertains as much as inspires.
5 My Bread
Who said that baking bread had to be hard work with unpredictable results? Not Jim Lahey, that’s for sure.
In My Bread, Lahey proves that anyone with the right ingredients and a Dutch Oven can produce the most delicious loaves of bread, with the fluffiest textures and crispiest crusts. And no kneading!
With flour, water, yeast and salt, a fermentation process of 18 hours and a baking time of 60 minutes, you too could be producing bread varieties that include rye, olive, cheese, baguettes, bread rolls, focaccia and even pizza dough. It’s well worth the time for the end result and couldn’t be easier, even if you had a bread machine.
Making sure you won’t waste a crumb, Lahey recommends storing your bread in a paper bag or wax paper, with loads more to make the most of bread at every stage, even once it starts to go stale. Some of my favourites are his delectable sandwich recipes for your new slices of heaven, if you manage to resist simply tearing them apart and slathering them with slowly-melting butter as soon as they emerge.
If you had to choose just one book to help fill your entire house with the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread, this has to be it.
6 The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook
Cast your mind to the grand and luxurious dining rooms of Downton Abbey and you can instantly imagine the refined fare on display at tea time.
Elegantly cut sandwiches, plump scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and glistening multi-tier silverware overflowing with florentines, cakes and tarts of all shapes and sizes.
Everything you could possibly need for a traditional English tea is in this book, from glorious recipes for cakes, tarts, biscuits and preserves, through to proper teatime etiquette.
The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook is a delightful little gem, handsomely bound in a dark green hardcover and beautifully embossed with silver text. It’s a splendid all-in-one guide to entertaining at home with a spread that’s a little more sophisticated for your next gathering of guests, but equally as satisfying if you’re just putting the kettle on for two.
7 The Great British Bake Off: A Bake For All Seasons
Together with the cast of contestants from the 2021 Bake Off, baking aficionados Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith have whisked up some incredible treats for you to recreate at home.
Since their famous baking tent graced our screens in August 2010, The Great British Bake Off has gained enormous popularity worldwide. The TV show tests home bakers in three main areas: the signature bake, the technical bake and the showstopper, with one baker being eliminated each week until the final winner is crowned.
All of the recipes in The Great British Bake Off: A Bake For All Seasons highlight the very best ingredients as they start to come into season throughout the year.
Stock up on fresh fruit and you’ll be making Passionfruit Soufflé in spring, Apricot Frangipane Traybake in summer, Toffee Apple Cake in autumn and Seville Orange Lamingtons in winter. Plan your calendar of ingredients and you’ll be pulling delectable bakes out of your oven 24/7/365.
8 Mooncakes and Milk Bread
This is a delightful Chinese baking cookbook that both welcomes the uninitiated to Asian pastries and inspires experienced bakers to try new methods, ingredients and flavours.
Start with the recipes promised in the title and see what makes Mooncakes and Milk Bread so popular. Then keep the oven going as you experiment with Sweet and Savoury Baked Buns, Pineapple Steam Buns, Almond Cookies and scrumptious dumplings.
Christina Cho is an accomplished guide in this exotic eastern adventure, introducing you to the essential ingredients and equipment you need, as well as how to shop for them in Asian markets.
Her recipes have detailed descriptions and beautiful photographs of the finished products, with step-by-step pictures of some the more elaborate processes.
9 The Perfect Cookie
Is there anyone who doesn’t love cookies? They’re perfect, easy, go-to snacks for teatime, TV time, bedtime or just to nibble on anytime. But not everyone knows how to bake them at home to match and beat the store-bought cookies we’re used to.
The bakers at America’s Test Kitchen definitely do, with recipes that have been tried and tested to produce perfect results, every time. The Perfect Cookie delivers their specialist expertise on every page, across cookies, traybakes, brownies or bars. with a mouthwatering picture for each recipe, so you’ll know if you’ve got it just right.
Scattered throughout the book are pearls of wisdom on choosing the best equipment and how to achieve the perfect balance between a crispy and chewy cookie.
10 The Magnolia Bakery Handbook
In 1996, The Magnolia Bakery exploded onto the New York dessert scene with their first store in the West Village. 25 years and a chain of stores later and they’re still as popular as ever, loved for their gorgeous cakes and cupcakes, made from scratch with exceptional ingredients and no preservatives.
Published on the eve of their 25th anniversary, The Magnolia Bakery Handbook: A Complete Guide For The Home Baker is a joy to behold. This is one book you really can judge by its cover! Spark kitchen dreams and baking imagination as you discover delectables like Chocolate Chunk Caramel Sea Salt Cookies, Billionaire Brownies, Red Velvet Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting and Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake.
If you’re looking to learn cake baking and decorating from the best in the business, Magnolia’s Chief Baking Officer Bobbie Lloyd has the tips, instructions and techniques you need to create a slice of heaven on a plate.