THE AVID BAKER
1. Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum, $39.95
A dense book on cakes from the author of The Cake Bible, this is an excellent go-to source for anyone who loves to wow friends and family with something beautiful and delicious. Beranbaum includes a variety of recipes at all skill levels that are chock-full with meticulously tested tips and techniques. You can bake to impress and learn a lot along the way. This is one of those cookbooks you will want to bake your way through start to finish. —Liesel Davis
2. Warm Bread and Honey Cake: Baking from Around the World by Gaiti Pagrach-Chandra, $35.00
Filled with everyday favorites as well exotic desserts, this cookbook will transport bakers to the kitchens of those living in the farthest parts of the world, and because of the diversity of the recipes, you will learn new baking techniques while gaining a taste of global food history—Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are all represented. This is the perfect book for someone who already knows how to make all the classics and is looking to be inspired. —Sarah Nicole Balzac
THE SWEET TOOTH AFICIONADO
3. Dam Good Sweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel, $25.00
Guas, executive pastry chef for DC Coast, Adadiana, Ceiba, and Tenpenh in Washington, D.C., before opening his consulting company Dam Good Sweet, shares his stories and memories of growing up in New Orleans along with a nice curation of his versions of down-South recipes. As one chapter introduction states, “the[se] recipes…are New Orleans to their sugary cores.” Delicious recipes embedded in cultural context make it a fun book to read and bake from. —L.D.
4. La Maison du Chocolat: Timeless Classics with a Twist by Gilles Marchal, $40.00
A perfect pick for those with a refined appreciation of the pastry arts, a highly sophisticated palate, and an even larger desire to re-create high-end desserts, Maison du Chocolate’s newest book will take you on a delicious cocoa-sprinkled ride. Inside you’ll find the recipes for the desserts that help put the company on the map. Try sweet favorites such as chocolate éclairs and mille-feuilles or savory inspired treats such as raspberry-pepper ganache and chocolate tagliatelle. This inventive book will surely not disappoint. —S.N.B.
5. Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees, $29.95
This cookbook is the opposite of those aspirational glossy-photo books that are often looked at more than baked from. In fact, there are no food shots at all, which many sound like a bad thing. But trust us, this book gives you much more: approachable recipes with readily available ingredients and tools. You’ll find a manageable collection of cookie, pie, cake, and bread recipes to get you started in the kitchen without fear. For anyone who wants a trusted tool to help them win over their neighbors and delight their friends with good home baking, this is the perfect place to start. —L.D.
6. The Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, and Cookies by Nick Malagieri, $35.00
With food TV on overload and restaurants popping up everywhere, it’s no wonder more and more people appreciate what good dessert means. And with that comes a group of everyday people looking to make fantastic but doable desserts. We all can use a little help. That’s where The Modern Baker comes in. This book contains recipes with proven, time-efficient techniques needed to produce up-to-date versions of your favorite classic treats. A great choice for those looking to get into the kitchen and understand what they are doing and love what they are eating. —S.N.B.
THE PASTRY CHEF OR PROFESSIONAL-IN-THE-MAKING
7. So Good.. The Magazine of Haute Pâtisserie, $29.95
You will have to forgive a little English-as-a-second-language from this Spanish publication, but it’s worth it. As one of the few magazines that places dessert front and center, this glossy publication gets you inside the top kitchens around the world. With two issues under its belt, the magazine profiles both pastry chefs and professional bakers, sharing their philosophies and approaches to desserts and baking along with a recipe or two. This magazine is a great read for anyone who wants to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry or just be inspired by what others are doing. —L.D.
8. The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate, $75.00
As any good chef knows, a recipe is relative, because in the end it’s your technique that matters. And that is exactly what this book intends to help teach you. In the 512 pages that combine to create this book, you will find a plethora of recipes, along with an understanding of the methods used by classically trained pastry chefs, which help one produce flawless desserts. The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts is fantastic for someone with true passion and the determination to bake like one of the very best. —S.N.B.
THE BREAD BAKER
9. Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Bread by Peter Reinhart, $30.00
The first bread book I bought, many years ago, was Brother Juniper’s Bread Book by Peter Reinhart. It still is one of my most beloved cookbooks, and I now have an entire section of my kitchen library dedicated to Reinhart’s tomes. His first books were delightful in their simplicity and very relevant to the home baker. Later books were more scholarly and directed toward the professional baker. In Artisan Breads Every Day, Reinhart once again speaks to the home baker, addressing a variety of complex breads in ways that will help anyone who wants to make bread at home be successful. —L.D.
10. My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method
by Jim Lahey, $29.95
As much as a good baguette satisfies, baking bread is not an easy task. From the founder of The Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, My Bread teaches you the techniques that helped revolutionize bread baking in 2006 when a small article in The New York Times by Mark Bittman introduced the world to the no-knead method, where a wet dough was baked inside a cast iron pot creating the hard crisp crust with a chewy middle that would normally take years of experience and a good amount of patience to produce. This book delves deep into Lahey’s methods while also providing solid recipes to enhance the mundane sandwich. —S.N.B.
11. BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery by Erin McKenna, $24.00
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit this Lilliputian bakery in New York City’s Lower East Side, you may surmise this cookbook is strictly for the allergy afflicted and vegan-committed. But, this thought should be set straight. Anyone can, and wil,l enjoy making and eating McKenna’s sweet treats. Turn out moist, delicious breads, cookies, and cakes; rich, creamy frostings; and a slew of McKenna’s self-created recipes without feeling that anything has been sacrificed. —L.D.
12. Savory Baking: Warm and Inspiring Recipes for Crisp, Crumbly, Flaky Pastries by Mary Cech, $24.95
There is a classic misconception that most baked treats are sweet, but author Mary Cech is out to prove this wrong. Savory Baking is filled with 75 recipes that will help transform your view on baking all together. With recipes like those for Canadian baked pudding and savory cheesecake with parmiggiano-reggiano as its star, this book is sure to please as well as wake up your taste buds with these not-so-sweet treats. — S.N.B.
13. Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman, $16.00
Whether you are a pro, a novice, or somewhere in between, this book has something to add to your kitchen knowledge and skill. As Ruhlman states, this book is about culinary fundamentals, but also what you can do with those fundamentals, such as variations and improvisations. Not really a recipe book, Rulman sets out ratios for ingredients by which you come to understand how components come together to create a final product. Once you know the ratios, creativty is yours. —L.D.