When it comes down to it, baking is a science. And if you want to learn more about what's going on behind the scenes when you're making delicious desserts, these are some of the best baking science books to reference.
I will be the first to admit that I'm a book nerd. Like, a big book nerd.
I'm the kind of person who gets an actual adrenaline rush when walking into a bookstore. And the kind of person who can't go into said bookstore without spending at least a hundred dollars.
All that being said, it probably comes as no surprise that I love baking science books. While baking can seem really complicated at times, there are so many amazing books out there that help make it feel just a little bit easier.
So, in today's post, I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite books that dive into the science of baking. These books have been staples on my bookshelf — and in my kitchen — over the past few years, and I know you will enjoy them as much as I have.
Let's get into it!
#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.
#3. The Flavor Bible by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page
Like the title says, this book is truly my bible.
I first discovered The Flavor Bible when I was working as a pastry cook in a restaurant. During the slow Sunday dinner shifts, I would borrow The Flavor Bible from the pastry chef and comb through it for hours, brainstorming new recipe ideas.
This book is essentially an encyclopedia of ingredients. It lists thousands of different types of foods, cross-referenced and organized alphabetically, breaking down what flavors pair well together. For instance, if you look up 'apple' in The Flavor Bible, you can see all the ingredients that apples pair well with like caramel, cinnamon, lemon juice, rum, walnuts, and more.
When writing the book, the authors also interviewed chefs from all across the country on different types of ingredients, and they dispersed the quotes throughout the entire book. It's really neat to learn more about how different chefs like to use specific ingredients!
Whenever I want to whip up a new recipe, this is the first book I always turn to. It helps take the guesswork out of baking, and it has inspired me to create so many delicious and unique recipes over the years.
#4. The Science of Cooking by Stuart Farrimond
Are you a science nerd? Then this is the book for you.
The Science of Cooking teaches you about all the chemical processes that are happening behind the scenes when you cook and bake.
While a lot of this book does focus on savory cooking, there are several sections devoted to all-things-baking. From tips to help you prevent soggy bottoms to an in-depth analysis of the crystal types in chocolate, The Science of Cooking gives you the tools to become a better baker.
While some of the other books mentioned are pretty text-heavy, this is the book for all the visual learners out there. It's engaging and packed with unique images and infographics, so it's never dry to read.
#5. BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher
I recently picked up BakeWise for the first time, and I can't believe it took me so long to give it a read.
This book is unique because it actually includes over 200 recipes, as well as an exploration into the science of baking. Corriher will introduce a recipe, then explain extensively what is happening behind the scenes at each point in the baking process.
I love this book because it provides a hands-on approach to learning. You can pick one of the recipes to bake and then easily learn how to master a specific technique or ingredient by following the advice from the book.
And when it comes to baking, this book truly leaves no stone unturned. Corriher shows you how to get perfectly moist cakes, fudgy brownies, and perfectly puffed choux pastry. All the knowledge you could ever need when baking is in this book — it's up to you to put it into action.
How About You?
What are some of your favorite baking science books? Let me know in the comments below so I can check them out!
Want to Learn More?
Check out these articles to learn more about the science of baking and bake like a pastry chef at home!