So you’re interested in learning about pastry and baking, but don’t know where to begin? Whether you plan on opening your own bakery one day, or you just want to take your pastry skills to the next level, pastry arts books can teach you a lot about the art and science behind your favorite baked goods.
But with literally thousands of books on pastry arts to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to look for the best resources.
We turned to the Pastry Chef Instructors at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts for their top book recommendations in the pastry arts category.
Top 7 Pastry & Baking Books According to Pastry Chefs
1. Best for Bread Making: Bread, by Jeffry Hammelman
Bread is notoriously difficult to master, even among avid bakers. Although bread usually only requires a handful of ingredients to make, the process is long, and there are a number of steps and variables that have to be just right in order to achieve that perfectly baked loaf of bread.
Luckily for us, Jeffrey Hammelman, one of the most knowledgeable bread experts in the world, outlined all his tips and tricks in a book aptly titled, Bread. It’s geared more towards commercial bakeries with formulas that yield large quantities, but you can learn a lot about the science and ratios of bread baking regardless of whether you are a home chef or professional baker.
If you want to learn more about the intricacies of breadmaking, Bread, which has been referred to as the “bible of bread baking,” comes highly recommended.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Colette Christian, Certified Executive Pastry Chef® & Certified Master Baker
2. Best for Chocolate and Candy Making: Chocolates & Confections, by Peter P. Greweling
This is the go-to book on chocolates, according to Escoffier Chef Instructors. There are other good chocolate books available, but Chocolates & Confections is by far the best. It’s accessible, but includes a great deal of highly detailed technical information.
Chocolates & Confections takes you step-by-step through a number of complex techniques that may appear daunting, including tempering chocolate and candying fruit. It also clearly outlines common pitfalls in the candy-making process and explains how to avoid them before they happen.
And if that wasn’t enough, this book also includes convenient guides to the best quality chocolate and other confectionery ingredients. A must-read if you want to learn more about making your own chocolates!
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Cody Middleton
3. Best for the Food Scientist: How Baking Works: Exploring The Fundamentals of Baking Science, by Paula Figoni
This book is the ultimate resource when it comes to ingredient function. How Baking Works takes you through every chemical reaction involved in baking (and baking is full of them!)
How Baking Works is perfect for the intellectually curious baker looking not only for recipes that work, but wanting to understand why recipes work, or why they don’t. If you’ve ever wondered why some recipes call for baking soda while others call for baking powder, this book is for you.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Nicole Lourie
4. Best for Creative Inspiration: The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page
The Flavor Bible was a groundbreaking book since its first publishing in 2008 and continues to be the most relevant source on the topic of flavor. It’s an elaborate discourse on complementing flavors, making it a go-to guide for dish designing and menu planning for both sweet and savory applications.
The Flavor Bible examines how to season food to bring out the maximum amount of flavor, and explores the topics of creating flavor profiles and what makes flavors work together. Culinary students come from all different backgrounds, and this book helps close the gaps by introducing common flavor pairings.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Megan Henke
5. Best for Step-by-Step Photos: Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry, by Christophe Felder
In Patisserie, renowned pastry chef Christophe Felder takes standalone complex recipes that may seem inaccessible at first glance, such as crème patisserie, pâte à choux, and éclairs, and then makes them doable in a home kitchen. With this book, you can easily follow along with the step-by-step photographed instructions to learn how to make French desserts that are sure to impress.
The quality of the photography is what really makes this book stand out. The latest edition of Patisserie is filled with over 3,000 beautiful photographs depicting various step-by-step techniques.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Thoa Nguyen
6. Best All-Around: The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion
Although this book was written with the home baker in mind, The King Arthur Baking Company’s All-Purpose Baker’s Companion is a great all-subject recipe book chock full of great information and tips that will help aspiring bakers of all skill levels.
In this all-purpose baking book, challenging concepts are broken down into terms that are easy to understand. And according to Chef Instructor Colette Christian, all of the recipes in the book really work–a tribute to the hardworking King Arthur team.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructor Jennifer McClintick
7. Best for the Advanced Baker: Advanced Bread and Pastry, by Michel Suas
Advanced Bread and Pastry is an amazing resource for a skilled baker. What makes this book unique is that each chapter is taught by a master in that subject matter.
Advanced Bread and Pastry gives the reader a strong foundation by going through all the classic formulas and methods and helping you understand what is happening when you apply certain techniques. The idea is that once you fully understand and master these techniques, you then have the freedom to get creative and deviate from the recipes, having a better idea of what types of changes will occur when you tweak certain ingredients or timing.
Recommended by Escoffier Chef Instructors Colette Christian and Cody Middleton
If you’re looking to take your skills to the next level, these books are great resources to help you get started on your baking and pastry journey. However, if you’re a more advanced baker, there’s no real substitute for hands-on learning.
“The Pastry Arts program at the school gave me the foundation to build my career. The chef educators provide real life tips and formulas I could never get from books. My co-workers are surprised by how much help the school has given me throughout my career.”
Kim Boos, Escoffier Pastry Arts Graduate & Pastry Chef/Owner, Tee & Cakes
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