Books for Bakers: 5 Page-Turning Titles We Love

If you’ve spent nights under the covers with a flashlight so you can keep on reading, or if you just need some great references for your cooking – we’d like to share some of the books that have been keeping us up past our bedtimes lately…booksforbakers1via@kingarthurflour

Yankee Hill-Country Cooking: Heirloom Recipes From Rural Kitchens
Beatrice Vaughan, 1963, Stephen Greene Press

This little gem of a book is filled with homey, memory-filled recipes for honest rural dishes that nourish and sustain. It’s a taste of the hills of New England, where ingredients Yankee farmers have depended on for centuries reside.

books for bakers 2 via@kingarthurflour

For those of you who live for the hunt in used bookstores, keep a sharp eye out. You can also find copies in online booksellers’ used sections.

books for bakers lemons grow via@kingarthurflour

The Land Where Lemons Grow
The Story of Italy and Its Citrus Fruit
Helena Attlee, 2014, Penquin Books

Citrus originated in the foothills of the Himalayas, but once it traveled the Silk Road east to Italy, it became the darling of the elite, and a hallmark of estates from the Medicis to the green ribbon around Palermo. Helena Attlee takes the reader on a tour through the Italian countryside, and its history, through the lens of its legendary citrus groves.booksforbakersDellaFattoriavia@kingarthurflour

 Della Fattoria Bread
Kathleen Weber, 2014, Artisan Press

Kathleen Weber tells the story of her relationship with bread, from commune cook to artisan bakery owner. It’s a story about the relationship of a baker’s hands and the connection to the process of mixing, kneading, baking, and

The elemental interaction of fire, hands……

and dough are accompanied by wonderful photographs, and sound advice about ingredient and technique. Kathleen’s passion for good bread is one we can all understand.booksforbakers cooking with fire via@kingarthurflour

Cooking With Fire
Paula Marcoux, 2014, Storey Publishing

Anyone who can wield a phrase like “hot cheese trebuchet” when describing the outdoor hazards of toasting cheese gets our vote. From the opening salvo of making a fire and toasting the ultimate marshmallow…

books for bakers cooking with fire tannur via@kingarthurflour

…to building your own tannur or wood-fired oven, this book will help you release your inner cave-person when it comes to cooking. Part anthropology, part archaeology, and part cookbook, Paula Marcoux’s book will have you rearranging the rocks in your yard for a fire pit (if only in your imagination) in no time.books for bakers sugar shack cover

Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack
Martin Picard, 2012, Restaurant au Pied du Cochon

Richly strewn with photographs and some out-there graphics, this beautifully made, self-published work takes you from woods to maple syrup jug, then into the kitchen to create all manner of deliciousness from the sweet sticky stuff. These recipes range from maple taffy and candy…books for bakers Pied au cochon maple napoleon

…to brioche and mille feuille, through marrow poached in half-evaporated sap, then garnished with caviar and maple-glazed lobster claws, and on to any game to be found in Quebec, cooked with maple as its accent. A fascinating, occasionally gritty journey through the culinary possibilities of this nectar.

Most bakers we know are continually on the prowl for inspiration, information, and armchair entertainment. We hope this list will inspire you to share some of your favorites or new discoveries in the comments below!

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. JoanieB

    Woohoo, love this post and the reading recommendations! Mystery novel, no thanks! Cookbook, YES, PLEASE!! And my volumes of KAF baking books are most definitely great late night reading!! 🙂

    I got the new book by Pam Anderson and her daughters as soon as it came out in April. Devoured it in 3 days! Loved it! Beautiful recollections of family, food, sharing, caring, and a few recipes to boot! “Three Many Cooks” (which is also the name of their blog).

    Thank you for the suggestions!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      And thank you, Joanie, for yours! I’ll be looking forward to all the comments and suggestions here. Susan

  2. Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    There is so much knowledge about cooking and baking in actually reading cookbooks. This is how I learned to bake and understand the origin of a recipe and how and why it works. I collect cookbooks and have read the recipes, techniques and enjoyed the pictures of all the cookbooks in my collection. You can get recipes on the internet any day, but to actually read and learn from each cookbook is priceless learning for any home cook. Love these cookbooks you have chosen and will check them out. Thanks Susan!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi, Lorraine! Glad to oblige. Good books are great company, aren’t they? Susan

  3. JennC13

    OK – I had to google “butternuts” as listed in the Maple Nut Pie recipe in the Yankee Hill book. Come to find out they are also known as white walnuts, and maple walnut is for sure one of my favorite combinations. Also, seeing the fruit of this tree on the internet – I think I might even have one in my yard! I was always the kid with the light on until 2 am unable to put the book down, and I love reading through my cookbooks when time permits.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      We’re definitely kindred spirits, then. My home town had a 250-year old butternut tree; they’re a little sweeter than walnuts, and they’re awesome in ice cream! Susan

  4. "Since 8"

    I do love to read cookbooks, both to learn about the cooking or baking, and to learn about culture, since food and culture are so intimately intertwined. My absolute favorite is by Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet of PBS fame. His “The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas” is a treasure. Because he was seminary trained and ordained, he was able to weave culture, theology and food together in a way that is a delight to read. He blended the “what we do” with the “why we do” for lots of foods and traditions that surround a holiday that is the favorite for many of us who delight in being in the kitchen.

  5. Monica

    Reading cookbooks is one of my favorite things to do. I own all the King Arthur baking books and frequently will sit down with one or the other of them just to soak up the knowledge! One of my favorite cookbooks is “Pomp and Sustenance – Twenty-Five Centuries of Sicilian Food”. I have read it from cover to cover several times over. It connects me with my family’s traditions in a way that most Italian cookbooks cannot, as the Sicilian language and food ways are very different from most of Italy’s. I hear my Grandmother’s voice in the names of the dishes and meals described, and it’s nice to realize that I am still carrying on some pretty ancient traditions.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You are so fortunate to have found a cookbook that you can treasure, Monica. You are carrying on some of the traditions that keep bringing families together generation after generation. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

  6. Alex Ramsay

    FYI, The Land Where Lemons Grow has just been awarded the title of Food Book of the Year 2015 here in the UK!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Every once in a while, I get ahead of the curve 🙂 Thanks for letting me know, Alex! Susan

  7. member-lauragigante

    I have lived in Petaluma CA for 20 years and have eaten at Della Fattoria many times. If you ever visit the restaurant and bakery, be sure to eat there. The breads are ubiquitous in Sonoma County.

    This is the cookbook that started me on my bread baking adventure and new found passion. It is magnificently beautiful and the recipes are meticulously written, turning out great bread even by a totally novice baker.

    I highly recommend the read…L

  8. "Aga Owner"

    Thanks for uncovering some unusual books that are new to me (and I thought I knew them all)!
    Anyone who loves bread should try to get ahold of Man’oushe: Inside the Lebanese Street Corner Bakery by Barbara Abdeni Massaad. Interlink Books. Handsome book with marvelous photos of bakeries and bakers and distinctive recipes. I lived in Beirut and this is the real deal.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Ohhhh, now I ‘m in the same boat as Tanna! Thanks for the shout out on this one. Going on my list right now! Susan

  9. Michelle Nelson

    I have been collecting and reading cookbooks for about 40 years now. Like others, I love to read a cookbook from beginning to end. I remember about 15 years ago I had purchased a cookie cookbook. I can’t remember the name of it or who it was by but as I started reading, I started noticing all kinds of errors and inconsistencies. I wrote a letter to the author of the book pointing out what I found. I received a letter back telling me I “needed to get a life” and that no one reads cookbooks like a novel. Boy could we tell him a thing or two! And yes, if I remember correctly, it was a male author.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It is truly unbelievable that you received that kind of response. I can bet that cookbook is no longer taking up space on your bookshelf! Elisabeth@KAF

  10. Tanna

    There are a lot of areas in my life I need help with … however, finding new baking/cook books is not one of them. Considering the VERY large number of baking & cook books I have, I really don’t see how you could have possibly come up with 5 I don’t have, now am desperate for and one of those will probably drive me frantic till I find it.
    PLEASE don’t do this again … At least not soon … Or at least not this week … OK?

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Tanna, that has to be one of my favorite responses….EVER!!! Thanks for a great start to my day! Susan

  11. Angela

    Probably my favorite food book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s about a family that decides to live off of only what they can grow or buying things that were produced within I think a 20 mile radius of where they live. Also for a really interesting read I loved Being Dead is No Excuse: A Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral which is all about southern culinary funeral traditions.


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *