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#1. How Baking Works by Paula Figoni
If you’re serious about baking, this is the textbook that you didn’t know you needed.
How Baking Works explains the hows and whys of every chemical reaction, ingredient, and technique involved in baking. It dives deeper into every aspect of baking than you could have ever thought possible… and I love every page of it.
And when I say textbook, I mean textbook. At the end of each chapter, this book has review questions and exercises to help test your knowledge. A lot of schools use this book when teaching pastry, so you know that you’re learning from the best of the best.
Also, keep in mind that this isn’t a book that you’re going to read in one sitting. With over 500 pages, it’s pretty hefty! Instead, I like to pick it up when I want to learn more about a particular topic or if I have a specific question in mind.
#2. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
As much as we’d all love to come up with delicious baking recipes on the fly, it’s not always possible. Luckily, Ratio teaches you the fundamental ratios that form the backbone of any recipe.
For instance, this book explains that a basic cookie dough follows the following ratio:
1 part sugar : 2 parts fat : 3 parts flour
So when you’re creating a cookie recipe, you can start with that basic ratio and then start making variations to your heart’s content. Add in some nuts, experiment with using different flours, or flavor the dough with some kind of extract. Yum!
And the book doesn’t stop there! It has ratios for all kinds of doughs, batters, sauces, and even meat. It’s a fantastic resource to reference whenever you’re looking to develop a recipe from scratch.