There’s nothing quite like homemade bread. That relaxed feeling you get from kneading the dough, the delicious smell of baking wafting through the house, and the sense of satisfaction you get from sharing your very own soft and chewy loaf with family and friends.
Bread has been around for millennia and was vital to the development of human societies. First made in the Middle East following the domestication of wheat, there is extensive evidence of bread-making in Ancient Egypt. The idea of a free-standing oven that could be pre-heated to bake bread seems to have originated with the Greeks. Even then there was a variety of different sorts of breads; most ancient Greek bread was made using barley flower. Classical authors describe all sorts of different breads and cakes, from honey and oil bread to mushroom-shaped loaves covered in poppy seeds. Bread’s versatility has contributed to its longevity and the foodstuff has taken on importance in many different cultures and religions. Its significance in the domestic setting has also seen its name lent to phrases such as “bread-winner” and “putting bread on the table” to convey the need for basic necessities.
If you’re thinking of taking up baking your own bread and are wondering where to start, the basic science of bread-making is actually pretty simple, but if you want to take your bread to the next level, a good bread-making cookbook is a must. The best bread baking books are full of simple tricks to improve your baking that will soon become second nature if you learn them in the beginning. Bread-making is an ancient skill, passed down through generations for thousands of years, so there’s something very satisfying about feeling connected to bakers who went before you.
Not sure which bread baking book to buy? We’ve brought together a list of the very best on the market today.
My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, offers homemade bread at its absolute simplest. Written by Jim Lahey, founder of the Sullivan Street Bakery and inventor of the ‘no-knead’ method, these recipes require just 5 minutes of actual work. It’s a great place to start for true beginners, but not for those who prefer bread-making to be a bit more hands-on.
My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method is available to buy from Amazon.
Josey Baker Bread
Josey Baker Bread is a beginner’s guide to sourdough by San Francisco baker Josey Baker, whose shop shares the same name as his book. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the recipes increase in difficulty as you progress through the book, so you can start with the basics and work your way up to more complicated recipes, like Josey’s cult favourite Dark Mountain Rye.
Josey Baker Bread is available to buy from Amazon.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice
A fifteenth anniversary update of the best-selling, multi-award-winning original, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is written by Peter Reinhart, co-founder of Brother Juniper’s Bakery and a key figure in the artisanal bread movement. This book has it all, from clear instructions on the twelve stages of building bread, to master formulas for making classic breads including pizza dough, bagels, ciabatta and challah.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread is available to buy from Amazon.
Flour Water Salt Yeast
New York Times bestseller, Flour Water Salt Yeast is another multi-award-winning book, this time penned by acclaimed Portland baker Ken Forkish. A great selection of artisan breads and pizzas, with difficulty levels suited to beginners and experts alike.
Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza is available to buy from Amazon.
Breaking Bread: A Baker’s Journey Home in 75 Recipes is part recipe book, part story of self-discovery, so if you like a cookbook with a personal touch, this could be the one for you. Written by New-York-financier-turned-baker Martin Phillip, the book is divided into sections featuring recipes and stories related to each of the places the author has lived, and there is also a helpful technical section with clear, approachable instructions.
Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes is available to buy from Amazon.
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
Now in its third edition, Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes has been hailed as a ‘masterwork of bread baking literature’ and received the Julia Child Award for Best First Book when it was first published in 2004. The book features over 130 formulas for different types of breads, along with an international contributors section featuring recipes from five different continents.
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes is available to buy from Amazon.
Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, is a follow-up to their bestselling Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The book features 90 recipes for different types of gluten-free bread, many of which are adaptations of popular recipes from Artisan Bread. There is also a helpful section on the types of gluten-free flours you can use, and instructions on how to make your own master flour recipe.
Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is available to buy from Amazon.
Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More, by award-winning Brooklyn baker Sarah Owens, is a complete guide to the world of naturally-leavened baking. With 101 recipes and clear instructions on how to make a healthy starter from scratch, this book extends beyond bread to show how homemade starters can be used in cookies, cakes, tarts and more.
Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More is available to buy from Amazon.
Tartine Bread is written by legendary sourdough baker Chad Robertson, co-founder of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery. Great for people who like to understand the science behind baking, this book can be a little technical at times, but the results are worth it.
Tartine Bread is available to buy from Amazon.
Our second book from award-winning author Peter Reinhart, Bread Revolution, concentrates on new developments in bread-making, including recipes that use sprouted flours, whole and ancient grains, nut and seed flours, alternative flours, and allergy-friendly and gluten-free approaches. With clear descriptions that demystify the baking process, this book is great for those who are new to alternative breads, but may be a little advanced for complete beginners.
Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking With Sprouted And Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, And Fresh Techniques is available to buy from Penguin Random House.
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen, is a selection of multiethnic bread recipes from the bakers of New York’s Hot Bread Kitchen, a bakery that employs and empowers immigrant women. With a diverse selection of recipes, including enriched breads, conchas, bialys, m’smen flatbreads, and naan, this book is great for anyone who is interested in breads from around the world.
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World is available to buy from Amazon.
Living Bread is a James Beard Award-winning book by Daniel Leader, founder of iconic artisan bakery Bread Alone. Part history, part cookbook, Living Bread examines the evolution of bread-making through the ages, and the innovations that helped shape it. There are also some great recipes, including vegan brioche and chocolate sourdough babka.
Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making is available to buy from Amazon.
If you want to learn more about bread-making, take a look at our article on the history of bread for some fascinating insights into one of humanity’s oldest traditions. Or why not try some of these very different bread recipes from around the world?
Carasau bread is a simple and delicious flatbread from the Italian island of Sardinia. Made with just three ingredients - flour, yeast and salt - carasau is a paper-thin, crispy, chewy bread that tastes great simply served, with a drizzle of olive oil, or with fresh tomatoes and oregano.
Follow this authentic recipe by the Simili sisters to make traditional traditional Italian bread, using a homemade starter. Make your dough into smaller shapes or a large, crusty loaf.
This Australian damper bread is traditionally leavened using soda and cooked in the embers of a fire. Damper was made by early European settlers, and is thought to be based on bush bread, a recipe used by Aboriginals for thousands of years.
Bread lovers with a sweet tooth are sure to love this almond Easter bread. A golden-brown home baked loaf with a swirl of sweet almond paste running through the centre makes this the perfect Easter treat.