Joe’s Book Club

Below is a list of Joe Pastry-recommended books. I own almost all of them, and those I don’t I covet. I receive any and all recommendations with great enthusiasm.

Core Books for the Home Pastry Enthusiast:

The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
Dessert University, Roland Mesnier
Lenotre’s Desserts and Pastries, Gaston Lenôtre
Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, Maida Heatter
The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum

Core Books for the Home Bread Baking Enthusiast:

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart
Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart
The Bread Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
Chez Panisse Cooking, Paul Bertolli

Other Excellent Books for the Home Baker

Baking: From my Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook
Baking Illustrated, The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
Baking with Julia, Julia Child & Dorie Greenspan
Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, Bernard Clayton
Breads from the LaBrea Bakery, Nancy Silverton
Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, Dorie Greenspan
In the Sweet Kitchen, Regan Daley
Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, Martha Stewart (for food design only)
Pastries from te LaBrea Bakery, Nancy Silverton

For the Pastry Professional (or devoted enthusiast):

The Professional Pastry Chef, Bo Friberg
Cakes to Dream On: A Master Class in Decorating, Colette Peters
Grand Finales: The Art of the Plated Dessert, Tish Boyle, Timothy Moriarty
Grand Finales: A Neoclassic View of Plated Desserts, Tish Boyle, Timothy Moriarty
Grand Finales: A Modernist View of Plated Desserts, Tish Boyle, Timothy Moriarty
The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef, Bo Friberg

Books on Food Science

On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee
BakeWise, Shirley O. Corriher
CookWise, Shirley O. Corriher
I’m Just Here for the Food, Alton Brown
I’m Just Here for More Food, Alton Brown
Molecular Gastronomy, Hervé This

Books on Food History

The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson
Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne (Editor)
English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David
A Mediterranean Feast, Clifford A. Wright
Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith (Editor)
The Artful Eater, Edward Behr

59 thoughts on “Joe’s Book Club”

  1. I don’t know if this list was on the old site (I never saw it) but thank you. Will be spending the next few weeks finding them. I love buying cookbooks and trying new recipes!

    If you’ve recommended them, they must be good!

    1. I actually re-worked this section, since I never paid too much attention to it, but lots of people ask me for recommendations. Now they’re more visible!

  2. Joe, your website ROCKS! Love the clarity and photos in your recipes. I was thumbing through your topics and was wondering if you plan on discussing the subject of ‘chocolate’ and tempering. I didn’t see it. If it is here, please direct me to where I can find it. If not, would you consider discussing this topic?


  3. I’d say “Pastry in Europe” is a perfect candidate for the professional category. It’s wonderful!

  4. Great blog and wonderful pictures! Tons of knowledge for a newbie like me! Thanks so much Joe!

  5. Joe – I hope you will add “Pie in the Sky” by Susan G. Purdy to your list. I live at 5,000 feet and can tell you that the baking life is very different here. I am an accomplished home baker but was never able to produce popovers at this altitude until I found this book. She has tested basic cakes, meringues, quick breads, yeast breads, souffles, cookies and pies at sea level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 feet. Using her altitude x ingredient tables as guides, I can THEN explore the other excellent baking books out there. I bought it in hardcover and am glad because it gets a lot of use!

  6. Hi, Joe, (I named our son Joey, btw…never met a Joe I didn’t like!),
    Some suggestions to add to the book list:
    Back in the day when I was a pastry chef (25 plus years ago, phew!), I also–in addition to some of those you mentioned—used to refer to Flo Braker’s The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. Her descriptions are precise and recipes unfalteringly accurate. Alice Medrich’s books are keepers, too.

    1. I need to update this indeed, because there are so many great books out there. Flo Braker is a great mention — a true classic. Thanks Marsha!

      – Joe

  7. Got one for the food science section. I love this book!

    ‘How Baking Works’ by Paula Figoni.

    This is a rather clinical treatment of the “why” questions related to baking. There are even quizzes and lab experiments that really bring home the concepts and lessons of each section. It’s not an easy read but the material is approachable and sooooo worth the effort. – Tray

  8. Hi Joe,
    Now that I know that you have a website, I can thank you for your delicious pastry I had the pleasure to taste the other day. I can tell that it looked like authentic “Tarte de Natas” to me.
    If you like international food, there’s a really good book about portuguese cuisine that gives some background information about portuguese culture and its food and some traditional pastries. It is called “The Food of Portugal” by Jean Anderson.
    On my free time, I also love to cook and I think your website is great and helpful…
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks, Isabel! Was that the one I sent to U of L by any chance? If so, I appreciate you being my official taste tester!

      I’ll check out that book, since I know so little about Portuguese food, and what I’ve discovered lately has gotten me very interested.

      Cheers, and thanks!

      – Joe

  9. A book that I turn to every time I am searching for ideas is Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. It covers a large range of home desserts that seem seem to cover so many regional and ethnic specialties.

  10. Hello Joe,

    Thanks for a wonderful website. Am going through your tutorials and loving it. You forgot to include THE FLAVOR BIBLE by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.

    That book is the magic wand of flavors!



  11. I’d like to suggest the following two additions to your book list:

    Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer
    Bread by Jeffrey Hammelman

    1. Second the Hamelman book. Its an intermediate book that goes well as a follow-up to The Breadbaker’s Apprentice, and is easier to work with and more fool-proof than Beranbaum’s bread book.

      I’ve been through most of the bread books on your list and its the one I use most consistently.

      1. Hey Tam!

        It’s interesting, some bread books seem to work better for some than others. Some people swear by the Bread Bible and have less like with Reinhart. I can’t explain why that would be, but I’ve noticed it. Thanks for the comment!

        – Joe

  12. You may want to pick up Cuisine and Culture: A history of food and people by Linda Civitello. It was required text for a class I took at university by the same name. Happy Reading!

  13. Joe, I just discovered your blog. It is the first and only time I have ever responded to one. Thank you. I love your section on science. I found you because I am doing scholarly research on why and how fat is a mediator of flavor. I am also working on a piece on basic principles including the importance of umami in baking.

    By the way, I love your bookl ist, but I would expand it to include more Maida Heatter. And, just for the sake of accuracy, it is Rose Levy Beranbaum, not Berenbaum.

    To add an oldie but goodie, the book that started me off forty some odd years ago was “Beard on Bread.”

    I have been cooking in Chicago for many years, I wish I had met you there, but I started writing about food with passion when I too was diagnosed with (and recovered from) Stage IV cancer. Maybe there’s a lesson there. I am sure there is. More than one, in fact, but probably different for everybody.

    Thank you again for your lovely work

    Best wishes,


    1. Hi Bibi!

      Great to know you. I’ve been kicking around Chicago all day today going to meetings (I still do most of my business here). I come up probably once a month, so there’ll be ample opportunity to get together if you like. Your fields of study sound fascinating. By all means add to and/or correct any of my posts on the subjects as you see fit!

      And you know, I’ve known Rose for a couple of years now and I still misspell her name…shame on me. I’ll add Beard on Bread. As for Maida Heatter you’re right, I should put up more of her work. Any suggestions?

      Let swap some cancer stories some time! I’m pretty much always around.

      – Joe

  14. Joe, I love your blog! Thank you for all your work, especially for the tutorials!

    You sure have given me lots to read 🙂 🙂

    Take care and God bless you!


    1. Thanks for that, Ana!

      And please ask if you have any questions about anything at all!

      – Joe

  15. Hi Joe –
    Just discovered your site via — your tutorials are invaluable, especially since I went gluten-free and now need to make pretty much everything myself. I have a question — how come you say the Martha Stewart book is “for food design only?” I have that book and admittedly have not made a ton of recipes from it, so maybe you are saying the taste of the recipes aren’t that great, while the presentation is much better? I think the only recipe I’ve used is for lemon curd, and that was great, but, you know, with lemon curd it’s kinda hard for that NOT to be delicious. Anyway, I’d love to hear more why you recommend it only for food design — I don’t want to try converting any of those recipes to gluten-free (which is very challenging!) if they’re not worth the effort. Thanks!

    1. Hey Sara!

      Good question. I like that book for the visuals, but have found the recipes aren’t terribly good in the first place, and not all that well tested in the second. I know some people really love Martha Stewart, so I don’t want to step on anybody’s buzz, as it were. I just think that while her food design is great, better recipes can be found elsewhere.

      Thanks and welcome!

      – Joe

  16. Love this website. I go to it every morning. I absolutely love to make the coffee twist. The danish dough is great.

    1. Thanks so much, Donna! I’m so glad you’ve become a regular laminated dough maker. The world needs you!


      – Joe

  17. Have conducted a lot of research on Sacher torte and will be attempting your recipe in the next week or so when I can finally pluck up courage, I am by all admissions an enthusiastic cook, love reading cookbooks and trying new recipes, however not vastly experienced but able to perform most required techniques to an acceptable level.
    I remember having Sachertorte about 35 years ago and the memory of the taste is still vivid of apricot and chocolate.
    Will let you know how it goes, thanks for your enthused writings which is why I have decided to follow your recipe, 1 question I was considering making the glaze more of a ganache with cream, would that still work?
    p.s for good reads, Nigella Lawson is also a passionate UK cookery writer.

    1. Hi Ali!

      Yes, a ganache is perfectly fine here, and easier to do. Let me know how yours goes!

      Thanks for the kind words and the recommendation. I’ve seen Nigella Lawson on television but never read her writing. I shall!


      – Joe

  18. hello there,mr. joe pastry. finally nice to see another cake bible pastry site twin. was wondering if you do weekly/monthly newsletters? i belong to about 10 or so,right now.

    thanks and hope to hear from u soon,bzu 🙂

    1. Hey Beezu!

      Thanks very much, and I wish I could say yes to the newsletter inquiry. Keeping the site going takes pretty much all the spare time I have in my life. Maybe in the future!


      – Joe

  19. Hi Joe,

    I just came across your site and I’m absolutely hooked! I’m already piling up an online shopping cart of pastry and baking tools! I wanted to ask though, any chance you’re planning to do a cream horn recipe anytime in the future? It’s probably a really simple recipe but I just love watching you do them and the way you explain makes it so easy! My grandma loves cream horns and I’d love to make her some homemade ones!


    1. Hi Chelsea!

      Thanks so much for the kind words!

      Cream horns are a good idea. I’ll put that on my list and try to do them soon! Thanks!

      – Joe

  20. I love your follow up to Martha Stewarts book – for illustration only. I’d like to know how she made herself into the entertaining/cooking maven so many people think she is. She’s nuts, her ideas are nuts, and her recipes aren’t worth the paper their printed on.

    But, some of the pictures are nice. 🙂

    1. Hey Hadley!

      Ya gotta admit just about everything she does looks like a million bucks! She’s a design queen and for that she’ll always have my respect…but pretty much only for that. 😉


      – Joe

  21. Very interesting list, Joe! I’m happy to see that I already have many of the books on your lists. I’m interested in whether you’ve ever read “Simple Cooking” by John Thorne? It’s a terrific book — interesting recipes, interesting anecdotes, intriguing and provacative commentary throughout. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.

    1. I shall find it and read it, Kay. Thank you for the recommendation!

      Happy New Year,

      – Joe

  22. Just discovered your blog and love it! Gonna share with my foodie friends & family! Here’s an additional book (published in 2012) that I just got from a friend that would be a great addition to your list: “The Science of Good Cooking” by the Editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated & Guy Crosby, PhD. Excellent and very informative!

  23. This must be a blessing! I was just playing around on internet looking for just basics on baking and wala here you are…out of nowhee you show up!!! I am sooo excited! I just may have a chance in the world of the kitchen! You are my saviour. I shall return. …

    1. Hehe…hi Maria!

      What a delightful comment. Please do come back and don’t hesitate to ask any questions about the recipes you find here. I’m always around!


      – Joe

  24. Have you read “What Einstein told his cook” by Robert L Wolke? I think you’d enjoy it.

    1. I have that book, Alison. It’s a lot of fun!

      Thanks for checking in! Cheers,

      – Joe

  25. Any cookbook recommendations for a 10 year old boy? My son is finishing up a junior chef’s class and I would love to give him a “graduation” gift. I doubt you have ever had to traverse kid’s cookbook territory because your girls have you as a dad 🙂 However, I thought I might ask anyway.

    1. Hi Lisa!

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express, which isn’t specifically written for kids, but is still fairly simple and easy. So many kids cookbooks are so obviously “for kids” that a 10-year-old with a little skill would probably feel patronized. I know my 10-year-old would!

      Good luck with the search!

      – Joe

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