Baking isn't easy. While cooking is adaptable—as in, you can throw more of an ingredient into a meal than a recipe prescribes and not ruin it—baking is accomplished with precision. And because of that, it requires attention. If you've been thinking that your phone has zapped your attention span, swallowed up your leisure time, or depleted all of your old hobbies, then baking might be just what you need to make a change.
We gathered the seven best baking books to read if you're looking for a phone-free activity, and they can show you how to cultivate this skill from beginner levels into advanced methods. Whether you're learning how to make desserts like a chocolate cake, a fruit tart, or a lattice pie crust from best-selling chefs, all of these books prove that baking can be much more rewarding than mindless scrolling.
Read on for our picks, and consider shifting your attention toward baking. It might not be easy at first, but it'll be worth it.
The Cookbook: The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Why We Love It: When Martha Stewart Living calls this title a "masterwork," then you know it's worth your time. Author Rose Levy Beranbaum carefully describes how to create classic baking recipes—including tarts, pastries, cakes, and pies—with careful yet inviting precision, making it easy to give at least one of them a try. Besides, the photos are too beautiful to resist.
The Cookbook: Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski
Why We Love it: Lisa Ludwinski's boutique bakery in Detroit has grown into an icon of inventive pies, and this book shares its secrets with an approachable voice and beautiful photography. Ludwinski collected 75 of her most popular savory and sweet confections into this cookbook, including Toasted Marshmallow-Butterscotch Pie, and describes how to make them in such a way that'll give you the confidence to do the same.
The Cookbook: Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Why We Love It: Tartine has become a juggernaut brand in the 13 years since this cookbook has been published. Given that its original San Francisco bakery is a mainstay and its new L.A. outpost, Manufactory, has garnered plenty of buzz it's not hard to see why. If you want to learn how to create the same types of pastries that inspire lines down city blocks, then flip through these pages. From a brioche bread pudding to a lemon meringue cake, you'll be able to whip up modern classics in no time.
The Cookbook: Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake by Kristen Miglore
Why We Love It: As the creative director of Food52, Kristen Miglore knows what it takes to whip up delicious desserts that can end any day on a high note. What we like about this collection, though, is that most include surprising techniques for accomplishing a recipe more easily. For instance, chef Einat Admony's easy baklava can be made much like cinnamon rolls, where discs of dough and nuts can be sliced out with ease. It's the type of cookbook that'll come in handy for dinner parties.
The Cookbook: Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz
Why We Love It: David Lebovitz is beloved for his baking recipes, and this cookbook should prove why. Aside from his often funny, creative writing, there are more than 150 options to choose from that range from beginner to advanced. Start with Guinness-Gingerbread Cupcakes and Chocolate Orbit Cake, then move on to a French apple galette and sorbets. His recipes will make you feel like you're in control of your kitchen.
The Cookbook: The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro by Erin McDowell
Why We Love It: As a longtime food stylist and columnist, Erin McDowell knows how to make food appear ready for its closeup—so look to this title if you're in it for the 'gram. Aside from the beautiful creations, like flourless cocoa cookies, the main reason why this book can be a big help in the kitchen is because McDowell spends pages explaining just how to make the perfect pie crust. After you follow her rules, you won't be so intimidated by this skill.
The Cookbook: BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Park
Why We Love It: Stella Park also explains just what goes into making a flawless pie crust in this cookbook, and she intertwines that knowledge with insights into how to make American classics like pumpkin pie, key lime pie, and even animal crackers. Park also details the origin stories of these sweets, giving you some tidbits to share as you serve them.