The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What books influenced you?

SilverLion's picture

What books influenced you?

I would like to find out what cookbooks/bread books influenced you the most. What got you started? What inspired you the most? Or maybe you have a particuliar favorite you always return to. Please, only your top three.
The three books that influenced me the most are: Brother Juniper's Bread Book by Br. Peter Reinhart. This is a charming, wonderful book that centers you in the middle of your dough. It helped me attain real insight.
Second, Beard on Bread by James Beard, 1973. I found this one at a used book sale. It is obvious Mr. Beard loved his bread, especially warm and slathered with butter. The recipes are easy to make, they are easy to modify, and they produce one great tasting loaf after another. I modified a raisin bread recipe from this one which turned out to be the best loaf of raisin bread I've ever had.
Third is Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery. This is the one I used to "get serious". Much more detailed and structured than the other two books, I found this to be the key to baking great artisan bread. I still use the starter I made following her directions. The starter is more than four years old now.

Floydm's picture

Brother Juniper's Bakery is where I worked in high school, so I definitely have a fondness for that book and his Sacramental Magic one. I rarely list either of those books to other folks since I figure I'm not an impartial judge of them. Glad to hear someone else still enjoys one of them. Great books (and breads).

I saw Beard on Bread at Goodwill a year or so ago and I didn't buy it. I've been kicking myself ever since (and looking for it again every time I go). I'm sure I'll pick up a copy, eventually.

I haven't read the La Brea book.

I'd definitely say that Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice was the book that made artisan breads approachable for me. Still my favorite.

stephen198's picture

In my case there is almost a linear progression from one book to the next.

For me, the single most influential was Baking With Julia. With that book as a guide, I found I could do more than tollhouse cookies. If there is such a thing as a passport to the land of baking, then this book was it for me.

Baking with Julia gave me a desire to know more which led to the baking program at a community college. In class we used Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef. Since I have spent so much time with that book, it is where I go first for ideas and solutions. As a text book it covers much more than breads and the bread section may not be in depth, but it is still a foundation for me.

During school, the Bread Baker's Apprentice was published and that is my bible. When not in the kitchen, I still find myself browsing through and re-reading sections.

If you are looking for Beard on Bread, I still see it new at the bookstores here and there and Powells in Portland has two copies right now.