The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

what bread books would you get if...

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

what bread books would you get if...

if you already have:

The Bread Bakers Apprentice

Breads from the La Brea Bakery (silverton)

Local Breads (Dan Leader)

Whole Grain Breads (Reinhart)

Crust and Crumb

Beard on Bread

RLB The Bread Bible


I don't have Hamelman, don't have Dan Leader's first book, don't have Calvel's book, don't have Bernard Clayton's, don't have Maggie Glezer, etc., etc... 


I am interested mainly in natural yeast sourdoughs.  I especially like recipes that use all starter and no commercial yeast though am not closed minded about that.  I generally don't bake much that's a straight dough recipe, so if a book is full of just those, it won't get used much.  I would also like to get better at rye breads, and breads with more rye content.  Whole grain and healthful is a bonus.


Also I saw reference to a book called Celebration Breads, does anyone have it, is it good?


I'm wondering about the Laurel's Kitchen one, as people often speak of it highly, will it be "advanced" enough or have good new information for me?


Or any other books I haven't thought of?

edh's picture

Can't say enough good about it; written for professionals, highly readable by the rest of us. I learned more from the intros to this and BBA than I ever could have imagined.

I'd particularly recommend it for rye as well; he does use a yeast spike for some of his ryes, but you could just leave that out, it's not a huge amount.


Floydm's picture

I second that.

mcs's picture

It sounds like you already have a good library of bread books, but it's always great to get new ideas, right? Hamelman's is only about 1/4 straight doughs, so that sounds like it would fit the bill. It's a little too heavy on the narrative for me, but the recipes are good. Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book should be advanced enough for you, although you'll probably be reading some info you already know. Tassajara has a good one that I've been using for a while - I wouldn't recommend it as a first or second bread book because I've modified everything I've tried from it - but to me it's the type where I read recipes and think, 'That sounds like an interesting idea..." That's my 2 cents.


bshuval's picture

(In no particular order)

Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking". It's an excellent and gorgeous book. Her other book, A blessing of bread is fantastic as well, but I think that Artisan Baking will appeal to you more.

Dan Lepard's "The handmade loaf". This book is full of various interesting bread recipes from Europe. Many are sourdough. His section on sourdough includes pictures of starting a starter. Dan Lepard's methods are pretty interesting and unusual (such as his intermittent kneading)

Hamelman's "Bread". This is an advanced book, with many sourdough breads. It has an excellent rye section. Also, this book is geared more towards the professional baker -- the recipes are for a larger number of loaves than I would like to make. Therefore I usually halve the recipes.

Ortiz' "The Village Baker" (out of print, but worth seeking). This is a very interesting book, with several sourdough recipes.

Whitley's "Bread Matters". One of my favorite books. I like Whitley's approach to bread baking. This book has a very broad subject matter, and includes interesting sourdough recipes (including a chickpea flour one). This book has some very interesting Russian Rye breads (Whitley used to live in Russia for several years). This book is only available in the UK, so you have to order it from an online retailer based in the UK.

Bertinet's "Crust". This book has an interesting array of recipes. It is a gorgeous book, with good recipes. His kneading technique is interesting. Again, the focus isn't sourdough, but there are a few sourdough recipes. The book also comes with a DVD in which Bertinet shows how he makes a sourdough loaf.

Schreber's "Amy's bread". Not a lot of sourdough information, but there are a few sourdough recipes. This book is full of very interesting recipes by Amy Schreber. It is one of those books that makes you want to bake the recipes from it. It is out of print, but you can get a used copy pretty cheaply.

Beulher's (sp?) "Bread Science" is good book to have in general. It has some information on sourdough as well. This isn't a book to go to for recipes, though.

As for the breads you mentioned:

I like Laurel's bread book a lot. It has many interesting recipes. However, only very few of them are sourdough. Nevertheless, its Desem section is fantastic. I've only read about Desem in two other books (Thom Leonard's small booklet, "The Bread Book", and Wing's "The Bread Builders"). Both books reference Laurel's Bread book as the ultimate Desem reference. I think it is worth getting.

I think that "Local Breads" is a better book than "Bread Alone". Leader's first book has several "master recipes" and then many variations on those recipes. His second book is much more varied.

Calvel's book is very expensive, and contains a lot of technical information. I have it as a reference book but I don't bake from it.

I don't like Clayton's book. (and hence I don't own it)

The book "Celebration Breads" is very interesting. You won't find many (if at all) sourdough recipes in it, but you will find recipes for various special breads, and some information on each. The ingredient amounts are in volume and approximate, which annoys me, but the book is worth having if you have an interest in special breads. Because the ingredient amounts are in volume, I haven't purchased any other books by Oppenneer -- does anyone have any opinion on her other books? (assuming someone has read this far).

tattooedtonka's picture

Another take on a couple books.

Dough: By Richard Bertinet-  This book comes with a DVD as well, It is not a very big book, only 159pgs.  However, this book has great photos, some interesting breads, and is done in true Artisan style, all by hand (though he does add somewhere in the front of the book what to do if using a mixer).  Chapters 3 and 4 (out of 5) are solely on Brown Dough, and Rye Dough.  It may be worth you checking out.

New Complete Book of Breads: by Bernard Clayton- This book at 650pgs. (not counting extra content pages),  has more recipes than I will ever be able to complete.  Included in this book are 4 Bran Bread recipes, 18 Whole Wheat Breads, 18 Rye Breads, Barley Breads, Buckwheat Breads, Oat, Blended grain, Sourdoughs, and more misc. breads than you can imagine.  The book is written with details on if you do everything by hand, as well as if you use a mixer.  The only down-side that I have, is that I have to convert everything to weights since his recipes are in cups, and tablespoons and such.  But it only takes a couple minutes to convert to weights for a recipe, so really, whats the big deal.

Just another take..


AnnieT's picture

Another vote here for Dan Lepard's book. Lots of good reading, excellent pictures and good recipes - try the White Thyme Olive bread, A.

fthec's picture

Just to make a correction to bshuval regarding Hamelman's book.  It does, in fact, have metric measurements although they're for larger scale ups.  It's simple enough to convert to the size you want-- simple mathematics.  It also provides the quantity required for a home baker so I wouldn't say it's 'geared more towards the professional baker'.  Personally, I love it.  I learned far more from this book than any other. 

The first book I bought was BBA which opened up the world of baking to me-- it's still one of my favourites, thought I don't really use it that much anymore. 

I just received Bread Alone for Christmas and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes.  The narrative didn't provide anything different than the above.

The Village Baker was also interesting with some good recipes but only volumetric measurements for the home recipes.  The professional recipes in the back of the book were in metric and imperial but did not seem to correlate well with the home versions.  I now have enough experience that I can take the professional recipes and tailor them for my needs.

bshuval's picture

You are quite right. When I wrote my message I was writing from memory. I edited my original post.

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

thanks everyone for such helpful insight!


I've been trying to get Ortiz's The Village Baker for a while, but it's always spendy, can be over $100 for a used copy, Amy's breads I also saw at over $80, but I will continue to keep an eye out for them.  


If it's helpful to anyone, The Village Baker is on - that system will cut out some pages, but I've gotten some recipes that way and baked them :) .  Also on The Village Baker, I called TenSpeed press, and they have over a thousand backorders for it, so it is a possibility that it might be reissued. 




bshuval's picture

The book is available used on for around $45.

I really like this book. It is well written, and the recipes are interesting and unusual. As I said, reading this book makes me want to bake.  

suave's picture

Frankly, I prefer to check out the books myself.  That's what libraries are for, especially when the book you want is out of print, or insanely expensive.  And interlibrary loan will get you whatever your local branch doesn't own.

hullaf's picture

 I agree with all of you. TT - I too have gotten more bread books since joining TFL and am eagerly a'waiting Hamelman's book today; buns of steel - I agree, one can never have too many "reading" books and/or bread books; floydm - my kitchen has particles and bits of flour everywhere not just the cookbook; bshuval - I like Larel's book/it is a whole wheat classic; and suave- the library is the best for anything, I couldn't live anywhere without a library! 

I have an old book given me from my hippie sister-in-law called "The Complete Sourdough Cookbook - for camp, trail, and kitchen" by Don and Myrtle Holm copyright 1972 that is out of Idaho and is so wonderful to read. I've tried several simple good recipes (sourdough pancakes). It seems to me it was used more for camping or seat-of-the-pants cooking.  Anyone heard of it? I suppose there are loads of little local one man cookebooks out there. 

And one question - how does the cook control the flour all over the kitchen?


Rosalie's picture

Yes, I have this book.  I believe he was a columnist with an Oregon newspaper.  I was disappointed that all of his sourdough breads include added yeast.  But it's a fun read.


hullaf's picture

Believe it or not I just saw this same book, the Holm Sourdough cookbook, at a local bookstore. I tried to do some of the recipes but they seemed way too "wild and wooly" so I mainly just like to read the stories. It is entertaining!  Anet

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Time Life has the series The Good Cook, and within it is the book Bread.  It's got some fun recipes in there from foreign countries, and it's just fun to look at.  Cheap, too.  I can't remember the book's name, maybe Bread, by Linda Blake and Anthony Collister, and it has some unusual international recipes, too. I'm a sucker for those unusual recipes from foreign parts.  I haven't really baked out of either but they're fun to look at.  But I vote also for Hamelman also.