Best baking books

·8-min read
 (best baking cookbooks)
(best baking cookbooks)

Are you feeling the lack of The Great British Bake Off in your life? Or maybe you’re in need of a new cosy hobby now the dark and cold of winter has truly set in.

Well, step away from the gloomy window (or yet another boxset) and towards the flour and rolling pin. Some delicious sweet treats and savouries are coming your way.

But now comes the real debate: what to bake first? And what’s more, how to avoid duck-killing loaves or disappointing soggy bottoms?

Never fear! No matter what may tickle your taste buds, we have a line-up of the very best baking books for you.

From a bewildering array of scones to biscuits so perfectly iced you’ll be loath to eat them, these books will take you on a culinary adventure.

Just don’t mix up the sugar and salt.

Jane’s Patisserie: Deliciously customisable cakes, bakes and treats

If you’re looking for easy to follow recipes for seemingly every baked good under the sun, then look no further than Jane’s Patisserie. Some of Jane Dunn’s recipes may be familiar to you if you happen to be one of her 816,000 Instagram followers or turn to her blog to drool over cakes.

Well it is time for fans to delight, here she has assembled a collection of her quick and easy to follow guides for making everything from white chocolate biscotti to sticky caramel pecan rolls. I tried her recipe for malt chocolate fudge and it’s the definition of minimum effort, maximum reward in the best possible way. Who wouldn’t love a Maltesers and chocolate fudge combination? I certainly couldn’t resist.

Dunn’s cookbook gives a budding baker any number of recipes to have a go at in a clear and concise way. Her tips and suggestions for how to customise a bake are a welcome addition.

Buy now £10.00, Amazon

Breaditation: De-stress by Making Bread by Manuel Monade with Caroline Harrison

If, like me, you’ve often found baking bread to include more "d’oh!" moments than actual dough, then your frustration is about to come to an end.

Breaditation brings together recipes for ciabatta, English muffins and cinnamon scrolls with meditation. This combination of activities isn’t all that makes this book unique, however. It comes not just from professional baker Manuel Monade, of Bread Ahead bakery and school - and formerly St John Restaurant in Smithfield and Flour Power City Bakery, but also Caroline Harrison, a therapist and mental health nurse. The whole basis of their book is to take the process of creating a loaf and use it to find peace.

Monade devotes a lengthy section to the basics of bread making to ward off any disasters from the get go, then provides 22 detailed recipes to take the stress out of baking and instead inject some calm. If you want a thorough and relaxing take on baking, then this is the book you knead.

Buy now £12.99, Waterstones

Sally’s Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth by Sally McKenney

Among other delights, Sally’s Baking Addiction provides the very best cookie recipe I have tried yet. This book is worth buying just for that bite of heaven alone, but it’s full of myriad other baking masterpieces. Sally McKenney’s recipes will give you the perfect vanilla bean cake with strawberry whipped cream every time. No need for a trip to M&S ahead of any WI cake competitions with this guide in tow.

From the delicious basics to more complex confections, this amateur-friendly book of recipes will draw in budding bakers without any patronising explanations or alienating jargon. An American baker and blogger, McKenney’s recipes often come with a very US take; look out for her old-fashioned caramel corn monster munch and marshmallow swirl s’mores fudge.

If you don’t already have any, I’d pick up some measuring cups - they really are very useful and will save you so much time measuring out flour and sugar. If you’d rather stick to the scales, ingredients are given in weight as well as cups. My personal highlights were the rainbow chocolate chip cookies and sunshine lemon cupcakes (and my friends were fans too).

Buy now £15.19, WH Smith

A Bake for All Seasons by Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and the 2021 Great British Bake Off bakers

While butterfly cupcakes are delicious all year round, nothing says autumn like a toffee apple cake or spring like a passion fruit soufflé.

Including a handy guide to seasonal fruit and veg at the beginning, this cookbook takes you through recipes tailored for spring, summer, autumn or winter. They all look absolutely mouth-watering - I can’t wait for the days to get longer and warmer again to try my hand at the peach bellini cake.

More good news! If you watched the latest season of Bake Off and found yourself salivating at the sight of Jürgen’s pear and chocolate Charlotte or Chigs’s mango and coconut upside down cake, then the time has come to pick up a wooden spoon and bring some of that tent magic into your own kitchen (without helpful commentary from Noel and Matt, though). If that all wasn’t enough, flip to the back pages to see photos of all the delicious recipes to inspire your indecisive soul.

Buy now £11.00, Amazon

Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook by Roy Levy with Gail Mejia

Sick of sourdough but can’t bear the weird tastelessness of a supermarket pre-sliced loaf anymore? Don’t let a lockdown fad put you off exploring the more savoury side of baking. Just think of that evocative, yeasty smell as you first start putting your dough together.

Gail’s will likely be a familiar high street sight with each branch of the bakery in a distinctive white building with a vivid red awning. If you want to bring some of its tasty baked goods home without ordering to go, its book, Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook, will take you through more types of bread than you knew existed and then goes one step beyond with fabulous recipes to best appreciate your cooling loaf with. The shakshuka is a Sunday brunch winner for me.

It starts off with a guide explaining important techniques such as how to knead with helpful step-by-step pictures, some basic recipes including Gail’s ketchup, then gets to the heart of the dough with recipes for breads, pastries, cakes and biscuits.

Separated into categories for all meal times, it also provides guides to fabulous dishes such as Welsh rarebit with smoked mackerel as well as eggs in the nest with wilted greens. If you want a cookbook that combines bakes with tea, then this is the one for you.

Buy now £22.50, Amazon

Everyday Bakes to Showstopper Cakes by Mich Turner

Mitch Turner, dubbed the queen of couture cakes, is back with a new book to defend her title. The Little Venice Cake Company founder’s cookbook is a collection of Pinterest-worthy bakes designed to raise your baked goods game to a whole new tier. Divided into four categories, it’s the celebration offerings that take the cake for me.

The Mothering Sunday mango and passion fruit cake is a sight to behold while the chocolate heart fudge cake seems a wonderful option for any kind of event. Turner suggests topping the cake with strawberries for a decadent Valentine’s Day treat, or outlining it with Oreos to make the birthday wishes of any chocoholic come true.

Not limited to special occasions, however, this baking book also takes on everyday options such as the humble cupcake and makes them a feast for the eyes too. The pigs and sheep cupcakes are a winning combination of simple to achieve for stunning effect. If Turner’s cakes are fabulous enough to make fans of Her Maj and Madge, then I’m sure they’ll win over the rest of us too.

Buy now £16.40, WH Smith

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Gifts by the Biscuiteers Baking Company

If you think you know your custard cream from your garibaldi then it might just be time to work on your presentation. While there’s nothing wrong with a drizzle of lemony icing on a biscuit, London’s own Biscuiteers take things up a notch or 10. So why should you sit up and pay attention to a book devoted to the craft of exquisite icing?

Not only do the Biscuiteers have icing cafes in Notting Hill and Battersea, plus have their products stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, it has also worked with the likes of Disney and Christian Dior to create bespoke biscuits. This book will take your biscuits into showstopper echelons of perfection with tips on icing recipes, techniques and designs.

What are you waiting for? Whip up some royal icing and grab the piping bags; those Fabergé Easter eggs won’t decorate themselves.

Buy now £14.99, Amazon

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