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Learn how to bake bread with these cookbooks

by Malou Herkes

published on 3 January 2024

Learning how to bake a proper loaf from scratch can seem daunting at first but, as James Morton writes Brilliant Bread, “everyone has the right to know how straightforward baking bread can be”. Here, we’ve listed our favourite bread-making cookbooks to suit every type of baker, from absolute beginners to sourdough aficionados. With the help of these books, you’ll be turning out farmhouse loaves, fluffy baps, and sweet brioches in no time.

Slow Rise: A Bread-Making Adventure

Slow Rise

While writing this book, author and journalist Robert Penn spent an entire year immersing himself in all things bread-related; he visited Parisian boulangers, learned from farmers on the banks of the Nile, and went so far as to plant, harvest, thresh and mill his own wheat. Thankfully for those of us less au fait with milling, Robert condensed his sprawling knowledge into a charming and truly fascinating book. Slow Rise: A Bread Making Adventure charts the histories, cultures, and traditions associated with bread-making, exploring what it it really takes to create a nourishing and flavoursome loaf.

You can watch Robert Penn’s video guide to making wholemeal sourdough bread over on our Instagram.

Brilliant Bread

Winner of the 2014 Guild of Food Writers Award for Cookery Book of the Year, Brilliant Bread is a comprehensive guide to bread-making. GBBO runner-up, James Morton, demystifies the process of ‘proper’ bread making, and shares everything he knows, from store cupboard ingredients to the how-to of dough making and shaping. You’ll find recipes ranging from basic loaves and sourdoughs, to doughnuts, pretzels, buns, and focaccia. “I hope you’ll notice that this book is a little different”, notes James, “it is built from the ground up for the home baker”. As a home baker himself, James knows the ins and outs of baking bread in a home kitchen; this guide will show you how, too. Start simple and try James’ easy mug bread recipe.

Baking School

by Justin Gellatly, Matthew Jones, Louise Gellatly

A practical, realistic guide for bakers of all levels, Baking School: the Bread Ahead Cookbook hails from the esteemed Bread Ahead bakery and baking school in London’s Borough Market. These guys know what they’re talking about when it comes to baking a good loaf, and in this book they share all they know, from the absolute basics of bread-baking to all the tips, tricks and wisdom involved in making a good sourdough. Check out their easy, no-knead sourdough recipe here.

For anyone seeking some global inspiration, chapters are divided by country, including English, French, Italian and Nordic, and covering breads and gluten-free baking as biscuits, pastries and Bread Ahead’s insta-famous doughnuts. 

Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook

Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook

by Roy Levy

From the wildly popular London bakery, this cookbook covers all manner of baking, including cakes and pastry, and includes a solid bread-making chapter to give you a good grounding in the craft. “There’s a lot of silly, intimidating language that surrounds baking so the sooner you forget it the better”, starts this accessible cookbook, with over a hundred recipes that have been adapted and reinvented to suit the home baker. Start simple and try out their wholemeal loaf or get inventive with a seeded buttermilk & treacle bread.


Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding

Justin Gellatly is one of Britain’s best bakers. Former co-owner of Borough Market’s Bread Ahead bakery, Justin earned his stripes as a baker and pastry chef at St John for twelve years, and created the legendary St John Bakery. This cookbook is a consolidation of his learnings, adapted for the home cook.

For the adventurous home baker, this cookbook is for you. Find a chewy rye & malt sourdough, guidance on feeding your sourdough starter plus tonnes of baking recipes, from buns and puddings. Find out more about the. book and read our interview with Justin Gellatly here.

Soup Broth Bread

by Rachel Allen

While it’s not exclusively a bread baking cookbook, Rachel Allen’s Soup Broth Bread has a generous number of recipes devoted to bread in all its different forms throughout. So, while you’re mastering the art of broths, thick soups, and winter stews you can perfect your bread making too.

Rachel Allen is a world-renowned chef and cookery writer and through a combination of accessible step by step instructions and indispensable tips she’ll guide you towards making that perfect loaf.

Bake With Jack

by Jack Sturgess

A highly accessible cookbook written with both seasoned bread-makers and beginners in mind, Bread Every Day will help you experiment with thirty kinds of bread as well as flavourful meal ideas to accompany them. An all-around bread expert, Jack Sturgess will guide you matter of factly through making the perfect loaf, and let you in on some of the tricks of the trade he’s picked up after many years in the business.


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