The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Favorite Cookbooks

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

Favorite Cookbooks

I'd be curious to hear about other people's favorite cookbooks, both baking related and other. Or, even broader, people's favorite food related books in general.

Probably the food related book that has been most influential on me as I put together this site is Charles Papazian's Complete Joy of Homebrewing. It is a wonderful book, one I think can be interesting even for non-brewers. It is one of the few topical books I can think of that satisfies both the beginner and the expert: I think there are very few brewers in America, both amateur and professional, who don't have a tattered copy of this book sitting around. The tone of Papazian's writing, particularly in the beginning section, is completely informal, yet there is a ton of information being covered in the book. His mantra "Relax... don't worry... have a homebrew" completely captures the tone that I strive for on this site: we're all here for the fun and the love of it. Even if you make a mistake, who cares? Laugh at it, learn from it, and move on.

Bread related, I'd definitely have to cast my ballot for Peter Reinhart's books, particularly The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Having worked in his bakery while a high school student, I can literally say that Peter introduced me to the world of artisan breads. He may not be the greatest baker to have published a baking book (though he is up there), but I haven't found anyone else who writes with the same amount of passion (for the craft) and compassion (for the amateur baker). Like Papazian, Reinhart's combination of enthusiasm, approachability, and humility is something I try to emulate here.

Finally, my "desert island" cookbook, the one cookbook I'd have if I could have no others? The Joy of Cooking, the 1960's edition with the blue cover. It has a little bit of everything in it, from bread to cookies to liver loaf to bananas in blankets (bananas wrapped in bacon?!? Wow.). For Pete's sake, it even includes diagrams on how to skin a squirrel:

I can't say that I've ever needed it, but if I happened to find myself trapped on Squirrel Island, I'd be awfully happy I took this book with me.

What about you?

crumbbum's picture
crumbbum

Without a moment's hesitation, The Doubleday Cookbook, 1975, Jean and Hannah Anderson. The binding on mine is broken and I've got newspaper recipes stuffed throughout it, dogeared corners, paperclips, notes written in the margins, and I would almost give up my firstborn rather than part with it. In fact, my firstborn can't have it until I die, so I'm on the prowl to find one for her. Most comprehensive volume I've run across, I've had it since the mid80s, and I always go to it first. I tried Joy, but didn't like it enough to buy one.

stephen198's picture
stephen198

Where to begin?

Biggest influence which interested me in food was my parents. They were foodies before there was such a word... back then (the 60's) it would have been "gourmet" but they were also fans of perfect fruit on its own and were seasonal before anyone cared.

As for my favorite books now, that would start with my text books from school: On Cooking by Labensky and The Professional Pastry Chef by Friberg. Both have some information on bread.

Books that focus on bread would start with Reinhart's BBA, and The Village Baker.

I would really like to see "The Taste of Bread" but am not sure if I want to spend the money on it... has any one seen it yet?

I guess that's the short list...

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I would really like to see "The Taste of Bread" but am not sure if I want to spend the money on it... has any one seen it yet?

I've not. I'm trying to get our county library to order a copy. I will definitely post about it if I succeed.

sonofYah's picture
sonofYah

Quote:

Floydm wrote:
I would really like to see "The Taste of Bread" but am not sure if I want to spend the money on it... has any one seen it yet?

I've not. I'm trying to get our county library to order a copy. I will definitely post about it if I succeed.

Floyd,

Have you tried an interlibrary loan. Some libraries will find books you want to read from other libraries.

That is how I got to read Peter Reinhart's books BBA and C&C.

Worth a try.

Gordon

SilverLion's picture
SilverLion

I used Charlie's book for homebrewing in 1988, but developed an over fondness for homebrew. Luckily, I found bread baking, just a different use for yeast.

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

Hopefully I will be merrily absorbing these two fine volumes-BBA, C&C myself this week via my tiny local library.
Its a great way to learn for free!

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

It took awhile but i finally got The Bread Baker's Apprentice and returned Crust & Crumb.

It is an awesome book!

Apparently it was loaned out of the Sedona Public Library as I've heard there are a growing number of specialty bakeries down there.

Ricardo's picture
Ricardo

I'm to get these books by Peter Reinhart's books BBA and C&C but i tis a pain to get them shipped to Australia they just about triple the price
after postage

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

I still have "The Real Apprentice". I was actually able to get a three week extension even though inter-library loans are not supposed to renew. This book is a treasure!

Bakenstein's picture
Bakenstein

I finally put my dough where my mouth is.

jef_lepine's picture
jef_lepine

I'm partial to both of Chef Bo's books: The Professional Pastry Chef and the Advance Professional Pastry Chef. I was one of his students though, so I could be biased :)

-Jef