The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Your one bread book for a desert island

grrranimal's picture

Your one bread book for a desert island know, assuming you had an oven and lots of ingredients on the island.

What would it be?

I own a grand total of one bread book, and it's a crappy one.  Really, really crappy.

So many folks on this site have seemingly encyclopedic knowledge not only about bread, but about the books about bread.

I'm not interested in filling a shelf with books, and I don't want to spend my leisure time reading bread porn, but I sure am keen to get a bread bible in the house. 

The king of thing that would go next to the Oxford Companion to Wine as *the* bread book in my kitchen.

Would love your recommendations.

Thanks, all, for any and alll advice. 

browndog's picture


My vote: Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, or, if you treasure a scientific approach on your island, Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. Although the new Daniel Leader book is on my wish-list, it sounds really promising.

Trishinomaha's picture

I go back to TL's country french and Essentials Columbia more than any other recipes.


Floydm's picture

A year or two ago I definitely would have said The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Right now I'd probably take Daniel Leader's new book Local Breads because I'm enjoying baking sourdough breads a lot. Though if I stop and think about it, I think something like Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Bread might be the best bet since it has HUNDREDS of recipes, everything from quick breads to potato breads to sourdoughs to whole grain. It doesn't contain the greatest advice on technique and it isn't the most likely book to make you a great baker, but for an encyclopedic bread recipe book it is the best choice.

grrranimal's picture


Thanks, Floyd.  I've noticed a lot of folks on the site refer to Reinhart.  I'm not a sourdough guy, yet, though I haven't ruled it out for the future.

Clayton sounds like perhaps the right companion to my Oxford Companion, but I wonder if having hundreds of recipes is really what I want.  

It's definitely bread for thought, though.  Thanks.


Prandium longa. Vita brevis.

slaughlin's picture

BBA by Reinhart or maybe one on raft building with bread author unknown


AnnieT's picture

grrranimal, The Bread Baker's Apprentice gets my vote, but I'm going to suggest one for your own island, being as you are living in the land of my fathers. (Oxfordshire, lucky you!) Check out The Art of Handmade Bread by Dan Lepard. Lots of good reading, super photos and good recipes. Plus I'm sure you can buy fresh yeast which I have never seen over here. How mean to only allow one book - at least Desert Island Disks let you pick several favorites, A

Rosalie's picture

At the  moment my choice would be The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book because I like whole grains.  But Peter Reinhart's new book on the topic is likely to supplant it in my estimation - I'll have to spend more time with the new one.

There are so many great bread books.  Each author has a different slant.  There's a lot of variation in sourdough advice:  you can stick with one or learn a variety of approaches and how to adapt from one to the next.  Some authors are big on technique, and others on variety (like Bernard Clayton - I have to agree with Floyd's comments there).

I'll guess, grranimal, that The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, would be your best bet for a starter bread book.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and Fresh loaf.  There are a lot of good recipes here.  I travel light and do carry a few 3x5 cards with my favorites.  I also post them inside my baking cupboard for quick reference.   But if you want to buy a book, try checking some out from the library to help you decide what kind of book  you prefer.   --Mini Oven

Paddyscake's picture

is an excellent book to start if you learn visually, as I do. Lot's of great pictures of shaping methods, easy explanation of baker's percentages, guidance for kneading by hand or machine, pix of the window pane test, pictures of the recipe loaves included in the book. The recipes run the gamut from cinnamon rolls to sourdoughs. Not a huge selection of recipes, but a great place to start learning the basics. Alot of the books above have a great collection of recipes, but lack the visuals.

grrranimal's picture

Overnight, I ordered both Reinhart and Clayton.  Plus, Mini's advice is spot on, and I'm gonna become a bread blog slut.

Thanks for all the guidance. 



Prandium longa. Vita brevis.