The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Two books to order

Salome's picture

Two books to order

I decided to order two english bread books to my uncle's home, who will come and visit us in a couple weeks. Books are probably everywhere cheaper than in Switzerland, this way I will be able to save around 30 Dollars, which is a lot for a student like me.

Now, question: which books? I decided to order for at least 25 $, because otherwise I'd have to pay for the shipping anyway. I rather spend my money for books only. ;)

I've already got Reinhart's BBA and Hamelman's Bread.

I was thinking about one Whole Grain book, either Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads or Laurel's Kitchen Bread book. I'm not sure which one I should take. I'm looking for a good book with interesting formulas. not only american style pan loaves. I do like hearth breads as well. It seems to me that Laurel's Book includes more formulae, but I don't know what kind of bread they are. I don't mind a couple enriched, sandwich style loaves, but I'd like to have some lean doughs as well. Do I find this in Laurel's book? Reinhart's on the other hand seems to have less theory and less formulae, but a section with hearth breads. is it worth it?

Secondly, I'd like to buy a book which includes formulae which consist out of a variety of grains, not only white flour, some sourdough . . . They can be time consuming, but please, not only! I don't want to have three day-projects all the time. A preferment - fine, sourdough - fine, but to fussy recipes don't fit into my schedule. I was thinking about Leader's Local Breads. I know about the errors in the recipes, but I think it wouldn't matter to much for me as I mostly use weight measurements? And I've already got quite some experience with baking, so I hope that I'd be able to correct errors if I find some?

Any other propositions?

I'd be very happy about some help to make my decision. And I promise to post about my baking which will result out of these books. ;)


Yerffej's picture


Here is the list of books I give to students when teaching bread baking.  While the list is certainly incomplete it may help guide you.




The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
by Peter Reinhart
(An excellent book for those looking to advance their baking skills)

Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
(A well written engaging book and the number one favorite of many serious bakers, possibly a bit too advanced for a novice baker)

Artisan Baking
by Maggie Glezer
(Great recipes from around the country with a wealth of background information)

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking
by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey
(An older [1984] and worthy book on whole grain breads)

Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands
by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik
(An excellent recipe source for good contemporary breads from Europe)

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers
by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman
(More breads from Europe plus fascinating reading about European bakers)

Beard On Bread
by James Beard
(A good book published in 1973 filled with classic old fashioned bread recipes, I am of the opinion that most of the recipes call for too much salt)

Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume Two
by Julia Child and Simone Beck
(Chapter 2 of this invaluable classic book covers bread making in a spectacularly complete, detailed, and well illustrated fashion)

The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America
by Joe Ortiz
(A valuable book aimed at home bakers and those interested in volume baking)

The Italian Baker
by Carol Field
(A well written great book with easy to follow successful high quality recipes that produce first rate results)


sphealey's picture

That is a near-perfect list.  The only one I would add is Rose Levy Beranbaum's _The Bread Bible_.  Her recipes may not produce the same peak flavor as Glaser's, but if one follows Rose's recipes exactly then the outcome will be a good bread 95% of the time.  That's a big confidence booster for someone starting out.


sphealey's picture

Oops - forgot Emily Bueler's _Bread Science_; well worth the price.


FaithHope's picture

Wow!  Thanks for that list!  I just have the BBA, but wanted to get some other great books!  This is so helpful!  Thanks for taking the time to list it all out! :)

apprentice's picture

If you haven't already done so, take a look at the book reviews page on TFL (link at the top of the home page). From that list, I would suggest that you read what people have to say about Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads (the new, revised version).

Clayton's book gets mixed reviews, but mainly because of the way the recipes were written. Personally, I was very impressed with the wide range of breads covered and useful reference material on pans, etc. Got it out of my local library while doing research on rye breads -- tons of those and lots else besides. Haven't had a chance to get back to it yet to try some recipes. But others in the review thread rate them highly in terms of how they turn out. You'd be a very versatile bread baker, if you made something from each section of his book!

You already have my go-to book for levain breads, sourdough ryes and such -- Hamelman's of course!

plevee's picture

Salome, your breads look so professional I doubt you need any more basic books. Why not try 'Advanced Bread and Pastry' by Michel Suas? Patsy

SourFlour's picture

I'm suprised no one has mentioned Bread Baking: An Artisan Prospective. I am in the middle of it right now and it is phenomenal. Rather than focus on specific formulas, he talks about each step and the science behind it. Lots of great tips, and amazing book. I'm excited to see all of the other responses here, as finding good bread books is important. I will soon be making a trip to the library to pick up a few more. Danny - Sour Flour

Salome's picture

Thank you for all the responses! This has already been very helpful.

Anything about Dan diMuzio's Bread Baking ?`I started to think about this one after you, Patsy, reccomended Rias. Rias' book just looks very big and maybe like to much for me, and diMuzio's book seem to cover the theory very well, too. Reviews look promising.

It's just the decision what I'm actually looking for. maybe I should buy three books, Leader's Local breads, Laurel's Kitchen Bread book and Dan diMuzio's? To cover the theory, grainy breads and whole grain.On the other hand, do I really need this many books? There's the web with loads of recipes. . .

I'm just not looking for one of these "bake the real white ciabatta books". I'm looking for breads which I would actually want to eat "daily". I'm just not that fond of white bread, I have to realize. (Am I weird? ;) ) I want grains. ;)

What would really help me at this point - what kind of recipes does Laurel's kitchen bread book feature? Are most of them enriched, "american style" breads, or are there more rustic hearth breads as well? I think I read somewhere that Laurel prefers to bake at low temperatures? I don't really like "sponge" breads.

So many questions, I know! Thanks for your patience!


shakleford's picture

I have both the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, and have baked with both extensively.  Here are some of what I see as the primary differences between them:

-Laurel uses mostly straight doughts, while Reinhart uses mostly sponges and soakers.  Of course you can always convert between the two, but it sounds like Laurel's method may be more to your taste.

-Laurel has a much wider variety of breads - for example, there is a chapter on using beans in bread which contains recipes involving garbanzo, soy, and black beans.  She also has quite a few with dried fruits and other ingredients.  By contrast, Reinhart has more variations on "normal" bread; what I would consider more flexible for making sandwiches.  There are very few recipes in Laurel's book for what I would consider hearth breads.

-Laurel's approach is very "hippie-esque."  As an example, she refers to creating a sourdough starter as "attracting our fellow travelers".  Reinhart offers a much more scientific approach, explaining how things work.  The difference is partly a matter of personal preference, but I found that Reinhart was much more helpful in giving me the knowledge to tweak recipes to my tastes.  For example, I have around a half-dozen variations on his basic multigrain bread that I make regularly.

-If sourdough is of interest to you, Laurel has a few sourdough recipes, but I didn't have much success with sourdough until I read Reinhart's book.  This relates to the above point about hippy vs. scientific approaches.

Hopefully that helps.  While I continue to use both books, I find that I make breads based off of Reinhart's more often, especially when I'm making bread for sandwiches.  On the other hand, there are some excellent, unique formulas from Laurel's book that I still enjoy.

Salome's picture

thank you shakleford, that has been a very helpful answer.

I read some more about both whole grain books and I decided to order Laurel's Kitchen Bread book and Dan DiMuzio's Bread Baking. I hope I won't regret this decision, because now the order is placed.


Yerffej's picture


I think that you will be quite happy with the books that you have selected.  I have not yet read Dan DiMuzio's book but everything that I have read about it leads me to believe that it is an excellent book.  The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book is simply a classic book loaded with great information that goes beyond just recipes and shakleford's review was wonderful and accurate.


Salome's picture

And I couldn't resist and had to add a pocket scale to my order as well. Here again, 1/3 of the Swiss internet shop price and 1/6 of the Swiss retailer price! 9 $...

I can't wait to have my uncle coming here... ;)


shuttervector's picture

I love the book Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Bagget (Wiley, hardcover, $24.95). I bought one copy for myself and mailed a second copy to my son who lives in Barcelona.

shuttervector's picture

I love the book KNEADLESSLY SIMPLE by Nancy Bagett (Wiley, hardcover $24.95). I ordered two, one for me in San Diego and one I sent to my son who lives in Barcelona. I have tried several of the recipes and have had pleasing results. Shuttervector

CanuckJim's picture

I have most, if not all, the books already listed.  Despite the minor problems, I would have to recommend Leader's Local Breads. It contains formulas you won't find anywhere else, mainly because he travelled so much to get them.

My top stalwarts are Reinhart, BBA, American Pie, Whole Grain; Hamelman, Bread; Leader, Local Breads.