Here is my list of the best, must-have baking cookbooks. These five cookbooks make my list because of the focus on technique in all of them.
I have long said that a recipe is just a list of ingredients married to a list of techniques, so if you learn the techniques, you can make almost anything you can think of with nothing but an ingredient list.
Grab copies of these incredibly instructive cookbooks for the bakers in your life.
How is This List of Must-Have Baking Books Different from Other Folks’ Lists?
Baking. I love the feel of flour on my hands and how I can tell exactly when I’ve rubbed in enough butter to make a lovely pie crust. I love the thick, luscious, billowy batter that I make for my pound cakes.
I do not, as a rule, so much love recipes, though.
What I’m more interested in is technique. Give me a recipe, and I can cook one thing. Teach me a technique, and I can cook a wide array of things.
I used to buy every cookbook I could get my hands on. I went in phases: sometimes it was “cookbooks that contain a bajillion recipes.” For awhile I was into niche books with titles such as 75 Baked Potatoes or Pudding. Then, I was into Bibles. Cheese bibles, pastry bibles, cake bibles, chocolate bibles. If it had Bible in the title, I was buying it.
Why The Instructions in Recipes Are So Important
Being a lover of words, the instructions section of a recipe called more loudly to me than did the ingredient section.
The instructions are the meat of the recipe. The how to. The technique. The mixing methods. And sometimes even the why behind the techniques.
As I read, I began to see similarities across a wide array of recipes.
How many instructions for braises and stews start with cooking aromatics in a pan? Almost all of them.
How many custard recipes tell you to temper hot ingredients into the beaten eggs and then pour the lot back in the pan. Almost all of them.
How many cookie recipes begin by asking you to cream together fat and sugar? A very ton of them.
How I Came Up with My List of Recommendations
In light of my love of technique, I thought I’d share a short list of technique-driven must-own baking books that I think every serious baker–or person who wants to understand how and why baking works–should own.
You will probably see a Bible title or two in here. After all, “bible” implies authoritative information and is generally not lightly bandied about. At the end of my list, you’ll find some recommendations from some of my blogging friends as well.
If it’s on my list I own it, I use it, and I love it because it brings something new to my understanding of the art, craft and science of baking.
Consider picking up a copy of whichever ones strike your fancy, either for yourself or for the baker/s in your life.
The baking cookbooks on my list may not all be in the list of the greatest cookbooks of the century, but they are all on my list for very specific reasons.
And that’s what I have for you today. A short but very sweet collection of what I consider to be the best baking cookbooks around.
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