The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Undecided about book to get

lacoet's picture

Undecided about book to get


I've been making breads for a while now, hand kneading some times and using the mixer some other times. So far my favorite book to use is Water,Flour,Salt, Yeast by K. Forkish. I've loved all his bread recipes but I want to get another book.

The two books I've seen highly spoken of in this forums are:

The bread Bible by Beth Hensperger and Bread by J. Hamelman

If I could get some opinions about which one is the best I would be very grateful since I can't seem to make a decision.

Thanks a lot.

David R's picture
David R

Because those two are different types of books, it's difficult to say that one is truly better than the other.

It will help to know why you're looking for another book - what do you want that you haven't already got?

barryvabeach's picture

My vote is Hamelman.  

Bröterich's picture

When I started I bought 2 books: WFSY by Forkish and How to Make Bread, by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.

I loved Ken Forkish's writing style, and he teaches a lot about the breadmaking process but I find Hadjiandreou's more useful. Most of the recipes just work the way they are written, and there is quite a variety. I do recommend his book.


hreik's picture

book.  You won't regret it.


Filomatic's picture

You can't live without Hamelman, so either get it or both.

mutantspace's picture

id go for Hamelman , Maggie Glezer or Dan Lepard

DanAyo's picture


kimemerson's picture

Even if you never bake a single loaf from Hamelman's "Bread", the education value alone is worth it. But then there's the bread...

David Mackie's picture
David Mackie

You have probably bought another book already but I will wade in also.  Buy Hamelman.  Why? Because it has a wealth of knowledge.  There is much more in that book than you can absorb right away but it is my go to book when I need some help.  He covers all aspects of bread making, chemistry, techniques, timing, temperatures.  It is a little dense and requires one to search around but it is well worth it.  Hamelman also has very good Youtube videos on all aspects of bread making which are well worth watching.

I initially started using FWSY by Forkish and it is a great book for beginners.  The problem with Forkish is that 1) his levain methods are crazy. There is no need to waste that much flower.  2) He does not really explain why he does anything.  It is basically do what I say.  This is perfect at first but when you want to branch out and do your own recipes you have no basis on which to do this.   

Hamelman covers all aspects and the reasons why you would do things like increase or decrease hydration, the effects of mixing, autolyse, oxidization during mixing, calculating water temperature to get a desired dough temperature....and there are tons of great recipes..

While I criticize Forkish for being to simple and one dimensional it is still a great book that got me into baking and I still go back to its recipes.

The other book that I found useful was Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson.  It is beatifully written and has wonderful pictures but what I liked about Chad's book was his methods.  It seems simple but it makes a difference.  For example Forkish has a complicated method for adding the levain to a recipe...dump it into a bowl with water already tared out o the scale, fish out the levain with not too much water and put it on the dough and then mix...crazy crazy...and half the time it is hard to get the levain out of the water.  Robertson method: put the required water for the reciped into a bowl, tare the weight, add the levain to the water and disperse it, then add the flour, mix and autolyse. Super easy.  Forkish seems to create extra work with his methods...

So three books

1) FWSY - starter

2) Hamelman - the bible

3) Tartine Bread - another perspective with efficient methods


Steve Knight's picture
Steve Knight

Chef Hamelman’s book is a favorite of mine. At a class I took with him recently he suggested that I buy the second addition, too, because it has “better science.”  Zachary Golper’s book, from his Bien Cuit bakery, is also excellent, with formulas not found in Hamelman’s. The other essential book in my library is from where I went to bread school,

This covers all, repeat, all the techniques you need and has formulas that work every time and are usable by home bakers, too. 

Good luck!