Book List, Genre Feature, Staff Post

My Favorite Baking Cookbooks

My grandmother was a chef and pastry chef and I always loved visiting her house as a kid because we would bake wonderful things in the kitchen and do all sorts of crafts in her basement workshop. Some of my earliest memories are from baking holiday cookies in the restaurant kitchen (Widow Finney’s in Reading PA) and I’ve always been fascinated in the chemistry of baking.

In the last few years I started baking again after taking a many years long break. Some of you, dear readers, may have heard that I am the one who made the rose champagne strawberry chiffon cake that we shared with attendees at our event with Jennifer Weiner and I love nothing more these days than sharing a good bake with others! I was asked many times for the recipe, which was an amalgamation of a few different recipes, and I will share with anyone who asks!

I have many thoughts on baking (do it often and always try something new) and best baking practices (weigh everything with a food scale, don’t use measuring cups) but as we are a bookstore and not bookstore and bakery (yet?), I figure it best to share today the books that have shaped me as a baker!

Bake From Scratch Volume 1 by Brian Hart Hoffman

Not going to lie, I own all five volumes of this collection. Each volume is collected from one year of recipes from Bake From Scratch magazine. The first volume, this one, introduces a number of standard recipes (a great basic chocolate birthday cake) to more elaborate cakes, breads, pastries and cookies that are definitely for the more experienced baker. It is, without a doubt, my go-to baking book (set) in my kitchen, though I had to write my own index for the collection as the index is terrible.

This collection of recipes from the first year of Bake from Scratch magazine features endless inspiration for home bakers.

From the essential brioche and rye bread to a classic 1-2-3-4 cake with seasonal flavor variations and easy French gateaux, this hardcover, high-quality cookbook with lush photography for every recipe is the go-to resource for those looking to bake artisan goods at home.

Baking with Kim-Joy by Kim-Joy

As a person that one might call obsessed with The Great British Baking Show, I was ecstatic to see Kim-Joy release her first baking book! They’ve been a great success, to the point where she has now done one a year and the third is coming out this fall! These cute bakes are delicious both with and without Kim-Joy’s level of artistic skill, but are definitely for the baker who doesn’t mind having to scour online specialty stores for ingredients and who regularly weighs all of their ingredients when baking.

Infuse your baking with a sprinkle of glitter, a rainbow of colors and a menagerie of woodland creatures with the help of this unique baking book from everyone’s favorite Great British Bake Off finalist, Kim-Joy!

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to bring your baking to life, Kim-Joy will show you how in this fun and practical book. As well as basic cake mixes, cookie doughs, fillings/frostings and decorating techniques, she shares 40 of her wonderfully imaginative designs for iced cookie creatures, big occasion cakes, character macarons and meringues, ornate breads and showstopping traybakes. Recipes include step-by-step photography and adorable illustrations accompanied by little messages of positivity throughout.

Whether you want to learn how to make a llama cookie, a cat paradise cake, a panda-madeleine or a choux-bun turtle, there’s something here to capture your imagination and spread a little (Kim-)Joy!

Baking with Mary Berry by Mary Berry

Mary Berry, British national treasure and former judge of the Great British Baking Show is basically the British version of Martha Stewart (minus the insider trading and jail stint), the ultimate home baker. Her recipes are straight forward and easy to follow with helpful photos throughout each recipe for ease of creation. Some take a bit of practice and can be a touch sparse (I’m still trying to figure out how to make her choux pastry), but overall a very helpful book!

A sweet and savory collection of more than 100 foolproof recipes from the reigning “Queen of Baking” Mary Berry, who has made her way into American homes through ABC’s primetime series, The Great Holiday Baking Show, and the PBS series, The Great British Baking Show.

Baking with Mary Berry draws on Mary’s more than 60 years in the kitchen, with tips and step-by-step instructions for bakers just starting out and full-color photographs of finished dishes throughout. The recipes follow Mary’s prescription for dishes that are no fuss, practical, and foolproof—from breakfast goods to cookies, cakes, pastries, and pies, to special occasion desserts such as cheesecake and soufflés, to British favorites that will inspire.

Whether you’re tempted by Mary’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake and Best-Ever Brownies, intrigued by her Mincemeat and Almond Tart or Magic Lemon Pudding, or inspired by her Rich Fruit Christmas Cake and Ultimate Chocolate Roulade, the straightforward yet special recipes in Baking with Mary Berry will prove, as one reviewer has said of her recipes, “if you can read, you can cook.”

Baking All Year Round by Rosanna Pansino

For years the only YouTube channel I watched regularly was Ro’s Nerdy Nummies. She’s now graduated beyond the cutesy persona to have her own baking competition on HBO, but her skill sets from the Nerdy Nummies days are unparalleled for beginners. Want to know how to make a basic macaron? Ro’s recipe is the best. Want to create a fun birthday cake or holiday treat for kids? Trust in Ro.


New York Times bestselling author of The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook and beloved YouTube star Rosanna Pansino is back with a delicious and inspired new collection of recipes!

In this book you will find more than 85 recipes for many of the holidays and special occasions that Rosanna Pansino’s family celebrates, such as Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and more. It will be your guide for years to come with fun, creative, and delicious ideas to make and share. This book has everything you’ll need to make a lasting impression. It’s also sprinkled with several recipes that are either gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy and celebrate all year round!

Everything Chocolate by America’s Test Kitchen

I have a whole collection of cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen but this one is by far my favorite for chocolate related things. It includes everything from making a chocolate ganache filling to a basic chocolate icing to tempering chocolate to using a double boiler to making chocolate cake and chocolate filled pastries. If it includes chocolate, you can bet it’s in this book. Recipes range from beginner to intermediate depending on the way the chocolate is being used, but overall is a must have for chocolate lovers of all ages!

Make your decadent dreams come true with this chocolate-covered collection of more than 200 foolproof recipes that showcase the treasured dessert ingredient–from delicious morning baked goods and pick-me-up treats to rich after-dinner delights for special occasions.

Chocolate may be the most universally loved (and craved) flavoring, and Everything Chocolate is the definitive guide to any sweet treat you can imagine featuring it, for any time of day. Wake up with streusel-topped Chocolate-Walnut Muffins that are easy to make or professional-grade Chocolate Croissants when weekend time allows. Pack lunches with pleasing Milk Chocolate Revel Bars or serve Magic Chocolate Flan Cake or Chocolate Pavlova with Berries and Whipped Cream after dinner.

Much of why we fall for chocolate is because it brings back memories of candy bar snacks and sneaking just-baked chocolate chip cookies while they’re still warm (we have the best recipe). We channel the nostalgia in recipes like Chocolate Fluff Cookies and Frozen Snickers Ice Cream Cake. But chocolate is also a grown-up favorite for black-tie desserts–think low, lush slices like Blood Orange Chocolate Tart or ganache-enrobed Chocolate-Pecan Torte (we’ll teach you how to get a perfectly smooth coating). The full range of chocolate recipes is here, avoiding the pitfalls of unbalanced chocolate flavor (too bitter or too sweet) or dry, crumbly baked goods (chocolate contains starch and we’ve learned how to mind it). Become a home chocolatier by learning all about chocolate nomenclature, how to shop for the best-tasting cocoa powder, when you should use chocolate bars versus chips, decorating dazzling desserts with chocolate, and how to make candies and cookies with shiny, snappy chocolate coatings with our shortcut to tempering.

The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer

This classic is a classic for a reason – one cannot go wrong with this book. It encompasses all the basics of cooking and baking and still contains what I believe to be the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. It’s the best book for beginners I’ve found and is very straight forward with it’s recipes. The index of this book is also incredibly helpful.

In the nearly ninety years since Irma S. Rombauer self-published the first three thousand copies of Joy of Cooking in 1931, it has become the kitchen bible, with more than 20 million copies in print. This new edition of Joy has been thoroughly revised and expanded by Irma’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife, Megan Scott.

John and Megan developed more than six hundred new recipes for this edition, tested and tweaked thousands of classic recipes, and updated every section of every chapter to reflect the latest ingredients and techniques available to today’s home cooks. Their strategy for revising this edition was the same one Irma and Marion employed: Vet, research, and improve Joy’s coverage of legacy recipes while introducing new dishes, modern cooking techniques, and comprehensive information on ingredients now available at farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

You will find tried-and-true favorites like Banana Bread Cockaigne, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Southern Corn Bread—all retested and faithfully improved—as well as new favorites like Chana Masala, Beef Rendang, Megan’s Seeded Olive Oil Granola, and Smoked Pork Shoulder. In addition to a thoroughly modernized vegetable chapter, there are many more vegan and vegetarian recipes, including Caramelized Tamarind Tempeh, Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu, Spicy Chickpea Soup, and Roasted Mushroom Burgers. Joy’s baking chapters now include gram weights for accuracy, along with a refreshed lineup of baked goods like Cannelés de Bordeaux, Rustic No-Knead Sourdough, Ciabatta, Chocolate-Walnut Babka, and Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza, as well as gluten-free recipes for pizza dough and yeast breads.

A new chapter on streamlined cooking explains how to economize time, money, and ingredients and avoid waste. You will learn how to use a diverse array of ingredients, from amaranth to za’atar. New techniques include low-temperature and sous vide cooking, fermentation, and cooking with both traditional and electric pressure cookers. Barbecuing, smoking, and other outdoor cooking methods are covered in even greater detail.

This new edition of Joy is the perfect combination of classic recipes, new dishes, and indispensable reference information for today’s home cooks. Whether it is the only cookbook on your shelf or one of many, Joy is and has been the essential and trusted guide for home cooks for almost a century. This new edition continues that legacy.

The All-Purpose Baker’s Companion by King Arthur Baking Company

This is basically the baking specific equivalent to The Joy of Cooking. A James Beard award winning book, you don’t have to use King Arthur flour to make the recipes in it, but it is definitely some of the best all purpose flour that I’ve ever used. From beginner to intermediate recipes, in here you’ll find everything from a basic bread loaf to a pain au levain and a well designed index to boot.

Trusted recipes, revised and updated for a new generation of home bakers.

Comprehensive in scope, authoritative in style, and offering clear, practical, and encouraging instruction, The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion is the one book you’ll turn to every time you bake. In it, the experts from King Arthur lead home bakers through hundreds of easy and foolproof recipes from yeast breads and sourdoughs to cakes and cookies to quick breads and brownies. Winner of the 2004 Cookbook of the Year Award by the James Beard Foundation, this dependable cookbook has been reinvigorated with new photography, recipes, and revisions to keep it relevant to today’s modern baker.

Decades of research in their famous test kitchen shaped the contents of this book: 450+ recipes, a completely up-to-date overview of ingredients (including gluten-free options), substitutions and variations, and troubleshooting advice. Sidebars share baking secrets and provide clear step-by-step instructions. Techniques are further explained with easy-to-follow illustrations. The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion is an essential kitchen tool.

Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain

Another Great British Baking Show alum, I will watch everything Nadiya does and I fell in love with her Nadiya Bakes mini series on Netflix last winter. When I found out I’d have to wait 6 months for the accompanying cookbook, I thought long and hard about asking my British friends to send me one! But it is now (almost) here and my advance copy came last week! I’m happy to say the wait was worth it and the recipes include both savory and sweet and celebrates the fact that baking uses the oven doesn’t just include desserts! Most recipes are beginner friendly.

The host of the beloved Netflix series Time to Eat and Nadiya Bakes and winner of The Great British Baking Show returns to her true love, baking, with more than 100 delicious, Americanized recipes for sweet treats.

When Nadiya Hussain, the UK’s national treasure, began cooking, she headed straight to the oven–which, in her home, wasn’t used for baking, but rather for storing frying pans One day, her new husband asked her to bake him a cake and then… she was hooked Baking soon became a part of her daily life.

In her newest cookbook, based on her Netflix show and BBC series Nadiya Bakes, Nadiya shares more than 100 simple and achievable recipes for cakes, cookies, breads, tarts, and puddings that will become staples in your home. From Raspberry Amaretti Biscuits and Key Lime Cupcakes to Cheat’s Sourdough and Spiced Squash Strudel, Nadiya has created an ultimate baking resource for just about every baked good that will entice beginner bakers and experienced pastry makers alike.

American Cake by Anne Byrn

Anne is, to me, the ultimate food historian, which if I had known was an option as a history major in college I definitely would have pursued! In American Cake she looks at the cake recipes that defined our nation from its earliest days through the present. Her gingerbread from colonial times reminds me so much of the gingerbread from Colonial Williamsburg it’s uncanny! A fun baking book / history book, this one also makes a great gift for the baker without all the fancy tools.

Taste your way through America with more than 125 recipes for our favorite historical cakes and frostings.

Cakes in America aren’t just about sugar, flour, and frosting. They have a deep, rich history that developed as our country grew. Cakes, more so than other desserts, are synonymous with celebration and coming together for happy times. They’re an icon of American culture, reflecting heritage, region, season, occasion, and era. And they always have been, throughout history.

In American Cake, Anne Byrn, creator of the New York Times bestselling series The Cake Mix Doctor, takes you on a journey through America’s past to present with more than 125 authentic recipes for our best-loved and beautiful cakes and frostings. Tracing cakes chronologically from the dark, moist gingerbread of New England to the elegant pound cake, the hardscrabble Appalachian stack cake, war cakes, deep-South caramel, Hawaiian Chantilly, and the modern California cakes of orange and olive oil, Byrn shares recipes, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look into what cakes we were baking back in time. From the well-known Angel Food, Red Velvet, Pineapple Upside-Down, Gooey Butter, and Brownie to the lesser-known Burnt Leather, Wacky Cake, Lazy Daisy, and Cold Oven Pound Cake, this is a cookbook for the cook, the traveler, or anyone who loves a good story. And all recipes have been adapted to the modern kitchen.

The Crafted Cookie by Anne Yorks

We hosted Anne for a virtual event in June on our YouTube channel and I think I spent more on cookie cutters and her book than we actually sold in the store! It’s a great beginners guide to sugar cookies and frosting sugar cookies that should be helpful to anyone wishing to get started in the art of cookie decorating! While I personally don’t like traditional sugar cookies, Anne’s techniques can be applied to any flat baking cookie of your choosing! Personally, I like to make speculaas or early gray cookies with lemon royal icing, but that’s just me!

Create Show-Stopping Cookies Using Simple Royal Icing Techniques

The Crafted Cookie is a beginner cookie artist’s dream come true. Through countless courses and videos, Anne Yorks has taught thousands of home bakers how to make cookie decorating simple and fun. Here, she covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about creating cute and whimsical cookies that taste as good as they look.

With accessible step-by-step tutorials for 50 creative designs arranged into themed platters, cookie artists of all skill levels will have plenty of inspiration for celebrating all year long. No more stressing over the intricacies of royal icing. Anne shares her best tips for royal icing, from coloring it to getting the right consistencies for piping and flooding and even how to store it. What’s more, she includes her foolproof base recipe for delicious, easy and incredibly versatile sugar cookies.

These are just some of the gorgeous platters offered:
– Rainbow Birthday featuring a colorful Rainbow Cake with Candles Cookie
– Classic Christmas Faces complete with a Jolly Santa, an Elf and a Red-Nosed Reindeer
– Give Thanks featuring a stunning lettered “Give Thanks” Wreath Cookie
– Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Baby Shower with a cute Sweet Dreams Footie Pajama Cookie
– Farmhouse Easter including a sweet Farm Fresh Easter Eggs Barn Cookie

This is the only book you’ll need to master the art of decorating stunning cookie after cookie. You’ll have as much fun designing them as you will sharing and devouring them.

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