This is the third in the series of my favourite and most used book recommendations for anyone learning to make bread. You can read about my three favourite books for anyone just starting their bread making journey or my top three (ok, four, I squeezed an extra one in) sourdough books. This one is all about digging a bit deeper into the art of bread. So if you feel like you have cracked the basic loaf and you are ready to learn more these are the books that I recommend for the book pile next to the oven or the bed, and I can’t just choose three this time either.
My first recommendation is Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery. This is a well researched and in-depth book and makes for a really interesting read. I definitely recommend that this one sits ready on the bedside table. David discusses the history of milling, talks in-depth about flour choices and other ingredients integral to bread making and has a really interesting chapter on the history of bread ovens and lots of recipes. It is a book that you can read and re-read. It deserves a place on everybody’s book shelf.
If you are as much as a bread geek as me then you will love to learn the science of bread and my top recommendation for this is Emily Buehler’s Bread Science, which is available as an e-book in the UK. Emily goes into the science of bread in great depth. Some of it boils my brain if I’m honest but that may be because I am not a natural scientist although the science of bread is my favourite subject and I can bore anyone with it within five minutes of meeting them. If you want to get a grip of the science of what is happening in your loaf then this is the book for you.
Another great book available to download if you want to understand the mystery of sourdough is Trevor J Wilson’s Open Crumb Mastery. It delves into the science of how to achieve the perfect open crumb (if that is what you are looking for and if I am honest I prefer a toast that can hold its butter) but the book is definitely worth reading as it can really help you to understand what is happening when you are making a loaf of sourdough.
A fantastic resource to have to hand if you are really serious about bread making is Michael Suas’s Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach. It has been designed for the professional baker so it might be a bit hardcore for anyone not completely obsessed with bread, but it is a book that I return to again and again for advice.
A book that is more suited to the enthusiastic home baker is Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. Again pitched at the professional baker but it is slightly less hardcore than Michael Suas’s offering. Hamelman’s book offers a formula for the home baker in every recipe and it is a great book to introduce you to the science of bread making so that you can understand the process in-depth which will help you correct any mistakes. The only frustration for me is that the home bakers recipes are in pounds and ounces rather than metric and my brain works best in metric these days, which means that I have to convert them. However, there is a bakers percentage given for every recipe so it isn’t difficult to convert the recipe and scale up or down.
It was difficult choosing which books should appear in this list but these are the ones that have been most helpful to me and that I return to the most, although there are lots of others that could be included here. Let me know if you have a favourite in the comments.