I think a lot of people tend to get a little lost when it comes to recipe books. It’s entirely understandable too. There is a whole lot out there and so much of it is crap. I’ve been asked a couple of times for some recommendations so here they are, my top ten favourite books on baking that are currently in my library:
1. “Baking Bread Old and New Traditions” by Beth Hensperger
This is the best book I know for people new to bread. Matching nicely with my goal of making fresh, home baked bread a realistic possibility for everyone, it is jam packed with bread recipes and tips. This book presents bread with simple instructions that will get you started on the basics of bread making.
2. “Ready for Dessert” by David Lebovitz
I have a little bit of a love affair with David Lebovitz. You know how when reading some recipe books there are direction that make no sense or recipes that are prone to failure? I have never found that in any of his books or other writings. This guy is clearly passionate about food and most especially dessert and it shows. Even better, his website has plenty of fun stuff, including a solid tonne of recipes. Check out his Chocolate Idiot Cake, if nothing else for the name alone. If you get only one dessert baking book, I highly recommend picking up one by David Lebovitz.
3. “Local Breads” by Daniel Leader
This is a more advanced bread book. A great stepping stone for great bread. While this book could be frustrating for people who haven’t developed a good feel for bread (hell, some of the recipes thew me a bit at first), it’s an essential part of my library and the first book I go to for new bread recipes.
4. “Willie’s Chocolate Bible” by Willie Harcourt-Cooze
This is Willie’s Chocolate Bible and also mine. I actually have a signed copy, having heard him give a talk at my favourite cook book store. He is from the UK and owns his own chocolate plantation. He knows chocolate inside and out. His book is filled with not only recipes, but a detailed story of chocolate.
5. “Tarts and Pies” by Philippa Vanstone
Pie is great. Every one loves pie. This book has all you need in the way of pie, too. There are several dough recipes and many, many pies. Good ones, too.
6. “Indulge” by Claire Clark
7. “Desserts” by James Martin
James Martin has an excellent sense of flavour. His panna cotta with balsamic vodka berries is really something. I haven’t used this book as much as I would like, but what I have done is mighty fine.
8. “Macarons” by Pierre Hermé
Macarons are big right now. They are also quite delicious. This book has some great recipes for both the macarons themselves and many fillings. A great book to have if you’re interested in learning to make them.
9. “Savory Baking From the Mediterranean” by Anissa Helou
Mediterranean food is always good in my books. The recipes in this book are borrowed from home bakers in the Mediterranean and they are truly excellent. Good rustic and homey baking, which is often the best kind.
10. “Baked, New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
This book is the official for the bakery of the same name. The recipes are very simple and very good. This book also has the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tried. The simplest things are so often the best.