In the infamous words of Julia Child, "with enough butter, anything is good." A sentiment that rings especially true when it comes to baked goods. After all, who among us can resist a flaky, buttery pastry or a moist, rich slice of cake? However, whipping up said shatteringly flakey pastry or wonderfully moist cake at home is a difficult endeavor for an amateur baker. Baking is a science that requires precise measuring, hawkish time watching, and following a recipe to the letter—which is where cookbooks come in.
To discover which baking tomes we should have on our shelves, we asked some of our favorite foodies—including Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest, Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, Naomi Robinson of Baker's Royale, and more—to weigh in on the best baking cookbooks that everyone should own. And boy, did they deliver. Spanning an accessible collection of simple cake recipes from bakeware designer Odette Williams to a creative collection of cake concoctions from Milk Bar genius Christina Tosi, their recommendations are fit for amateur and seasoned bakers alike.
Keep scrolling to find out which cookbooks inspire these foodies to stock up on flour, sugar, and, of course, plenty of butter.
All About Cake by Christina Tosi
"Hands down this is the most creative dessert only cookbook out there," says Gerard of Half Baked Harvest. "If you love New York City's popular Milk Bar bakery, then you need this cookbook. It's filled with the most magical cakes and every last one is stunning and beyond delicious. This is for all the cake lovers out there."
Modern Baking by Donna Hay
"Everything Donna Hay does is pure magic, and her desserts are over the top and beautiful," Gerard says. "This book is not only full of incredible cakes, cookies, and pretty much everything in between, it's pretty enough to sit on your coffee table too. Her recipes are easy to follow and show stoppers."
Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoë François
"For the everyday baker who wants to easily have bread on the table for dinner and cinnamon rolls for holiday brunches, this book is like the baking Bible, with step-by-step photos and easy to follow directions for some of the most delicious breads," Gerard says. "This is a staple in any baker's kitchen."
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
"This is definitely not considered a baking cookbook, but the dessert recipes are easy, delicious and fresh," explains Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. "If I’m ever stumped on what I should make when people come over, I thumb through this and get instant inspiration."
Baking at République by Margarita Manzke
"I love any excuse to go to République," Adarme reveals. "Their desserts are sublime. When this book arrived at my doorstep, I was so stoked to read it—it did not disappoint. The photography is beautiful, as are the recipes by Chef Margarita Manske."
The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas
"You know how everyone has a well-loved, well-worn sweater—this is the equivalent in a baking book," according to Robinson of Baker's Royale. "It’s the first one I reach for when I want comfort baked goods. The recipes range from sweet to savory. Each chapter opens with a primer, for understanding the basics of the recipes to follow so that success is a foregone conclusion. For those like myself who appreciate step-by-step photos—this one is full of them."
Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi
"This is where high and low baking meet for what are some of the most inspirational and fun treats to come out of my kitchen," Robinson says. "It’s also a book with recipes that require planning before you jump in—many of the recipes are step intensive and require online sourcing for ingredients, but believe me when I say, the payoff is there. The end result is fun treats that are playful, nostalgic and always a home run."
The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Berenbraum
"This is a reference book everyone should have," Robinson says. "It's simple to follow, detailed and informative in the way that’s not extraneous, so you won’t need to cherry pick for what you need. Of course, there are a ton of recipes for all the classics and if you read your way through this cookbook like you would a novel, you’ll learn how to make each classic your own and become a better baker."
Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Porkish
"When I get on a bread baking bender, this is my Bible," divulges Firth of Displaced Housewife. "You’ll start fermenting and throwing around words like 'poolish' and churning out gorgeous loaves of bread that pair perfectly with your evening glass of wine. My absolute favorite recipe (if I had to pick one) would be the White Bread with Poolish: gorgeous open crumb, delicious developed flavor and a cinch to make."
Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff
"I am an obsessive fan of Tessa’s talents and cookbooks," says Firth. "This is her latest tome and it includes all of her signature beautiful photography, impeccable recipe writing, and drool-worthy flavor combinations. This book is loaded with step-by-step photos, so you’ll be busting out buttercream flowers in no time. Definitely try the vanilla cupcakes, which my daughter described as the airiest cupcake she's ever eaten."
The Cookie Book by Rebecca Firth
"I mean, indispensable to any baker, of course! I reach for my own book at least once a week—because we need weekly cookies in our life," Firth admits. "It satisfies every craving from weeknight emergency sweet needs (think a whole chapter of chocolate chip cookies) to long weekend baking projects (yes, we need homemade macarons in our life!). Try the big-ass olive oil chocolate chunk cookies—I promise they’ll quickly become your new faves."
Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore
"This is one of my all-time favorite baking cookbooks for when I want something that will turn out fabulous and not be excessively complicated," Firth says. "The recipes are the perfect combination of familiar, but with fresh flavors combinations. Think of sweets like peach ricotta scones, lemon semolina cakes and banana chocolate bread pudding with salted caramel. This is the kind of cookbook you’ll reach for often and never be disappointed. Definitely try the peach cardamom muffins—they are the perfect breakfast-brunch treat!"
The Artful Baker by Cenk Sönmezsoy
"This is the cookbook to have on hand for when you really want to dazzle with dessert," suggests Firth. "[Sönmezsoy] elevates everything in terms of flavor and appearance, without the recipes seeming overly fussy. This book will definitely get you thinking outside the box when it comes to your next baking project and covers everything from brownies and cookies to tarts and confections. Make the vanilla bean meltaways—they are delicious, stunning and surprisingly simple to bake."
Treats from Little and Friday by Kim Evans
"Everything I've ever made from Treats from Little and Friday (also a beloved Café in Auckland, New Zealand) has come out both delicious and gorgeous," says Erickson of The Modern Proper. "It’s our go-to when we want to bake an impressive treat."
Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
"I love Alternative Baker because I do a lot of entertaining and often find myself needing to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions," Erickson says. "The recipes don't call for many hard-to-find ingredients, and I'm always discovering new flours when I use it."
"When my kids want to help me in the kitchen, they always want to bake," reveals Erickson. "Super Simple Baking for Kids is just what it sounds like—impossibly easy to follow and adorable to boot."