The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Books for a newbie

Mamabread's picture

Books for a newbie

Hi All, 

So I’ve baked my first solo loaf and I’ve got the bug. Now I have to busy myself until I can bake again next weekend. (I would love to bake again right now, but I’ve got 2 littles I have to run after and there’s only so much bread my family of 4 can eat.) There is so much I want/need to learn. I’ve started following people on Instagram, I’ve read all the guides on the perfect, and I’m starting to work my way through breakwerx too. I’ve also been scouring this site. But I was wondering what your favorite books for starting out are? Bonus points if they’re available as ebooks because I can only read on my phone (mostly while nursing my babe to sleep). I love a good solid book with pages, but there is a 100% chance my baby will rip all the pages and my 4 year old will spill something on it. 

Thanks in advance! 

The picture above shows my first loaves fresh from the oven. They’re covered with so much flour because I really really didn’t want them to stick to the tea towels during the proof. 

JerrytheK's picture

I have a number of bread-baking books (probably WAY too many if you were to believe my wife!).

Of all of them, I think the best introductory book is Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish.

It's good for both theory and hand's-on technique and recipes.

I just checked and it's available as a Kindle edition.


Mamabread's picture

I’ll check it out! Thank you 

BreadLee's picture

Hello there and welcome.  I have a decent collection of bread books,  but the one I go to the most is Bernard Clayton's  New Complete Book of Breads. The recipes fit my schedule better.  I like old world breads more.  Ryes, dark,  etc.And they're all coming out fantastic.  

I like chad robertson's ancient grains tartine book,  mostly for his ingredients and flours etc. 

Check out my recent posts and you will see some of the results from the Clayton book.  They're good! 

Good luck! 

barryvabeach's picture

While many here like the Ken Forkish book,  I didn't like it much , and would point out most here agree that his instructions on amounts of sourdough to refresh are far too high.  While many would suggest it is an advanced book,  I really like Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, though I don't know if it is available as a Kindle, and is more like a resource you really need to read and reread, so I prefer the hardbound book.  I also like most of the Peter Reinhart books,

BreadLee's picture

Right on.  Hamelman's books are great.  Especially showing the techniques and explaining what's happening in the dough through all of the steps.  

He's also got some good videos on YouTube showing the process.  Under king arthur obviously.  

Filomatic's picture

Totally agree.  Hamelman is the best book by far and there's no close second.  I don't favor Forkish, as I found his directions unnecessarily complicated.  That doesn't mean it isn't good.  But Hamelman proves that a book can be straightforward, have a ton of interesting and varying recipes, be suitable for beginners through to professionals, and be well written.

Mamabread's picture

okay, thank you for the advice. I’m definitely going to look up Bread, it seems to be very popular across the site. I’ve seen a lot of people say the same thing about Forkish being a bit wasteful with his starter. But if I get a chance I’ll take a look at it too. 

I was able to find Reinhard’s Crust and Crumb on my library app and I really enjoy how passionate he is about bread. 

mutantspace's picture

bread by Hammelman, any Reinhart books and Dan Lepards the handmade loaf. all the way. The Rye Baker is a great book if youre into rye breads.

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

I can only add to these excellent suggestions that Jeff Hammelman and Peter Reinhart are, by profession, teachers of baking.  Therefore their books are presented from an experienced pedagogical perspective and thus may serve learners better than many others.  IMHO, Chad Robertson is a lousy teacher.  Consumate artisan.  Lousy teacher.  Peter Reinhart is more the opposite.  I don't care for his formulae or breads very much but I learned more from sitting down and reading his Bread Baker's Apprentice and Whole Grains cover-to-cover than from any other source apart from TFL blogs.  Jeff Hammelman mixes that same excellent quality of pedagogy with his journeyman professional workaday baker's wisdom.  No harm in learning from a book that is also aimed at pros but makes concessions to us amateurs, unlike, for example, Suas' monumental Advanced Bread and Pastry, which is 110% pro-oriented and at times exasperating because of it (and if you're tempted to get that one, buy it digital if possible - it weighs a ton).


P.S. Those a pretty stunning first ever loaves!

Mamabread's picture

Thank you for your advice. I’m currently going through Hammelman’s Bread right now. I was given a copy of Robertson’s Tartine Bread. But will probably save that for when I have a better understanding of baking sourdough. 

And thanks for your compliment on my bread. I’m very proud of how they turned out. 

3lephant's picture

I am sure will be very helpful for baking related stuffs.

wally's picture

Many pro bakers consider Hamelman’s Bread the bread bakers Bible.

barryvabeach's picture

Mama,  I suggest you read the intro part of Bread ( the section before you get to the recipes )  all the way through before you try any of his recipes.  As a newcomer,  I think you should probably start with Baguettes De Tradition as your first recipe, and try to follow the instructions and timing as close as you can.  That recipe really opened my eyes on the power of stretch and folds.  You should also check out his videos.  This is the first one, the rest should open afterwards.  

Mamabread's picture

I’m deep into chapter 2 on ingredients currently! I would never skip an intro. I’m currently more interested in the information than the recipes. Although, I am starting to go a little cross eyed reading about wheat. But when I get to the recipe section I will make sure to check out that one thanks. 

idaveindy's picture

I subscribe to, and get a daily email on free and discounted ebooks. When they do, Act quickly,  the sales last only about 3 days.

That's where I learned that professional bread and pizza books, in Kindle format, regularly go on sale, from 2 to 4 times a year.  (Select the cooking category.)  That is... _each_ book goes on sale at least twice a year. So if you watch close, you can get them all in 12 months or less.

I have paid between $.99 and $3.99 for the following bread and pizza books. These are professional books by big name authors.    The "sale price" varies each time it goes on sale, sometimes 1.99, 2.99, and 3.99.  All of these books are very worthy bargains even at $3.99.


Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Forkish. 

The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Annniv edition, by Reinhart. 

Whole Grain Breads, by Reinhart.  My most useful book. 

Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson. 

Tartine No. 3, by Robertson.  My most admired book. A little too high end for me.

Sourdough School, by Vanessa Kimbell. 

The Italian Baker, revised edition, by Carol Field.

The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Classic Sourdoughs, by Ed Wood.

How to Bake: Art and Science of Baking, by Dennis Weaver, always been FREE. 


The Pizza Bible, by Tony Gemignani. My favorite.

Elements of Pizza, by Forkish.

Mastering Pizza, by Marc Vetri. 2nd favorite.

American Pie, by Reinhart.

Perfect Pan Pizza, by Reinhart. Currently on sale, Oct 14, 2019, for $2.99.