Pastry textbooks


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I am not sure if this is the correct forum or not. Since I really want to understand the science of baking, what books would you recommend I read? I have some cookbooks, but I really would like something more in-depth, like a textbook. Thanks!
 
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I am not sure if this is the correct forum or not. Since I really want to understand the science of baking, what books would you recommend I read? I have some cookbooks, but I really would like something more in-depth, like a textbook. Thanks!

Advanced Bread and Pastry Michel Suas. Purchase it directly from the San Francisco Baking Institute website. It was the first and continues to be the best textbook on baking. Baking in America would not be what is today if not for Suas. And certainly bread would not be what it is if not for him. The foundation of what you need to understand about baking is in that book. If you’re serious about baking that is the book. If I had to choose one book to from my collection, that is the only book I would keep.

On Baking A Textbook of Baking & Pastry Fundamentals Sarah Labensky, Priscilla Martel, Eddy Van Damme. This book is really weak on science and out right errors. And it has some questionable formulas. But it has great illustrations. if you can find it at an older edition at a discount, and only at a discounted price I would recommend it. I would not pay full price for this book.



Just understand that cookbooks and a textbook are two totally different things.

Home bakers are used to working with recipes. A recipe is a list of pre-measured ingredients and instructions on how to mix those ingredients. But baking is actually based on formulas not recipes. With a recipe there’s no relationship between the ingredients.


Baking is a chemical reaction of all the ingredients to time in temperature. And you have to think of temperature as an ingredient. Temperature comes in many forms, and is added in Multiple amounts throughout the entire baking process.

Professional bakers do not use recipes. They use formulas. So you won’t be working with volume measurements: cups and teaspoons.

A formula is an established percentages of specific ingredients; the percentages of each ingredient is calculated against the weight of the flour. that percentage is exact and it never changes.

A percentage is a number expressed as a fraction of 100. To create a formula in baking, a baker takes a specific set of ingredients; then using the weight of the flour, calculates a percentage of each of the other ingredients based on the weight of the flour.

In baker’s percentages, the flour is always 100%. An ingredient may be more than the 100% flour. For example, sugar is normally equal or slightly more (110%) than flour in a chocolate chip cookie.

Look at this example formula. The formula is NOT the quantites used to make the test cake. The formula is the baker’s percentages. So this is what you will be using in a textbook. and a textbook doesn’t give you a lot of instructions like a cookbook. And the reason is a textbook it’s meant to be used in a classroom. In a classroom you have an instructor giving you instructions.

DO NOT GREASE YOUR CAKE TINBaker’s percentages (this is the formula)8” test cake
cake flour100%113g
leavening (normally baking powder)3.5%4g
fine salt 1.5%1.5g
sugar #190%102g
citrus zest
vegetable oil50%56ml
egg yolk50%56ml
water*60%68ml
vanilla extract2.5%3ml
egg whites, 68°F100%113ml
sugar #240%45g
cream of tartar0.03%3.39
 
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Advanced Bread and Pastry Michel Suas. Purchase it directly from the San Francisco Baking Institute website. It was the first and continues to be the best textbook on baking. Baking in America would not be what is today if not for Suas. And certainly bread would not be what it is if not for him. The foundation of what you need to understand about baking is in that book. If you’re serious about baking that is the book. If I had to choose one book to from my collection, that is the only book I would keep.

On Baking A Textbook of Baking & Pastry Fundamentals Sarah Labensky, Priscilla Martel, Eddy Van Damme. This book is really weak on science and out right errors. And it has some questionable formulas. But it has great illustrations. if you can find it at an older edition at a discount, and only at a discounted price I would recommend it. I would not pay full price for this book.



Just understand that cookbooks and a textbook are two totally different things.

Home bakers are used to working with recipes. A recipe is a list of pre-measured ingredients and instructions on how to mix those ingredients. But baking is actually based on formulas not recipes. With a recipe there’s no relationship between the ingredients.


Baking is a chemical reaction of all the ingredients to time in temperature. And you have to think of temperature as an ingredient. Temperature comes in many forms, and is added in Multiple amounts throughout the entire baking process.

Professional bakers do not use recipes. They use formulas. So you won’t be working with volume measurements: cups and teaspoons.

A formula is an established percentages of specific ingredients; the percentages of each ingredient is calculated against the weight of the flour. that percentage is exact and it never changes.

A percentage is a number expressed as a fraction of 100. To create a formula in baking, a baker takes a specific set of ingredients; then using the weight of the flour, calculates a percentage of each of the other ingredients based on the weight of the flour.

In baker’s percentages, the flour is always 100%. An ingredient may be more than the 100% flour. For example, sugar is normally equal or slightly more (110%) than flour in a chocolate chip cookie.

Look at this example formula. The formula is NOT the quantities used to make the test cake. The formula is the baker’s percentages. So this is what you will be using in a textbook. and a textbook doesn’t give you a lot of instructions like a cookbook. And the reason is a textbook it’s meant to be used in a classroom. In a classroom you have an instructor giving you instructions.

DO NOT GREASE YOUR CAKE TINBaker’s percentages (this is the formula)8” test cake
cake flour100%113g
leavening (normally baking powder)3.5%4g
fine salt 1.5%1.5g
sugar #190%102g
citrus zest
vegetable oil50%56ml
egg yolk50%56ml
water*60%68ml
vanilla extract2.5%3ml
egg whites, 68°F100%113ml
sugar #240%45g
cream of tartar0.03%3.39

Thanks for the information. Yes, I am pretty serious about baking. I will research these books this weekend. At some point, I would like to take an in-person class. I'm waiting for this pandemic to over and done. I've been looking online, but I don't think there are a lot of places to take in-person classes where I live. When I lived in Chicago, there was a pastry school there. I should have taken classes while I was there. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20. I feel like I need to understand theory before actually doing anything practical. I'm a bit of a nerd, so science doesn't bother me. I like to think it helps me keep my brain sharp.

Again, thank you for the book recommendations. I really appreciate it.
 
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Thanks for the information. Yes, I am pretty serious about baking. I will research these books this weekend. At some point, I would like to take an in-person class. I'm waiting for this pandemic to over and done. I've been looking online, but I don't think there are a lot of places to take in-person classes where I live. When I lived in Chicago, there was a pastry school there. I should have taken classes while I was there. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20. I feel like I need to understand theory before actually doing anything practical. I'm a bit of a nerd, so science doesn't bother me. I like to think it helps me keep my brain sharp.

Again, thank you for the book recommendations. I really appreciate it.

If you did anything online it’s best to do a pre-recorded program that explained the fundamentals, and one that gives you access to repeatedly go back and review over and over again. Participating in a live online class is one and done; it’s not much benefit as you wouldn’t retain much.

The French Pastry School out of Chicago has a pretty decent online program. The French Pastry School is one of the top programs in the nation as well. While their pastry program is over $20,000, the pre-recorded online baking fundamentals program is only $25/month. Or for $200 annually, you can have unlimited access.

I maintain a number of educational baking resources to keep my skills current, and aid with my work and projects, so I pay the annual $200 fee.

I know in the past they used to have some kind of introductory offer where they allowed for a free access period to allow you too see thewe program first. Not sure if they still allow that, but check out their website if you want to learn more about their program.

The lessons are divided into the basic categories of pastry and bread. The lessons are just the fundamentals just like they are in a pastry school: batters (creamed, whipped); bread (yeast, enriched, ect); meringues; pies; chocolate. They cover some basic science. You’ll learn the correct mixing methods.

The videos are professionally filmed, narrated and concise. They are very much geared for the beginner. A intermediate baker would probably find them useful as well. I don’t think and advanced get much value for their money unless they do some teaching. for me it helps me learn how to present information better.

My biggest complaint is they don’t always use the correct terminology. An example is Desired Dough Temperature (DDT). This is one of the most important aspects of baking. And you will not find this in any cookbook. take a cooking lesson or baking lesson and they won’t mention it. But Butter Book does!!

Unfortunately they don’t call it DDT! They made up some other name for it. I can overlook some things like their use of dark metal cake pans (aggh their cakes are so over baked!!!), and I cringe at their creaming butter at 70°F, but changing standardized baking terminology is just a violation of good teaching practices. No one in the industry uses the term they use. I was reading through a formula and had to re-read a line three times. It finally dawned on me they were referring to DDT.

But to learn the fundamentals from a video program, I would say it’s overall good good program. But it’s not going to teach you the science.

 
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If you did anything online it’s best to do a pre-recorded program that explained the fundamentals, and one that gives you access to repeatedly go back and review over and over again. Participating in a live online class is one and done; it’s not much benefit as you wouldn’t retain much.

The French Pastry School out of Chicago has a pretty decent online program. The French Pastry School is one of the top programs in the nation as well. While their pastry program is over $20,000, the pre-recorded online baking fundamentals program is only $25/month. Or for $200 annually, you can have unlimited access.

I maintain a number of educational baking resources to keep my skills current, and aid with my work and projects, so I pay the annual $200 fee.

I know in the past they used to have some kind of introductory offer where they allowed for a free access period to allow you too see thewe program first. Not sure if they still allow that, but check out their website if you want to learn more about their program.

The lessons are divided into the basic categories of pastry and bread. The lessons are just the fundamentals just like they are in a pastry school: batters (creamed, whipped); bread (yeast, enriched, ect); meringues; pies; chocolate. They cover some basic science. You’ll learn the correct mixing methods.

The videos are professionally filmed, narrated and concise. They are very much geared for the beginner. A intermediate baker would probably find them useful as well. I don’t think and advanced get much value for their money unless they do some teaching. for me it helps me learn how to present information better.

My biggest complaint is they don’t always use the correct terminology. An example is Desired Dough Temperature (DDT). This is one of the most important aspects of baking. And you will not find this in any cookbook. take a cooking lesson or baking lesson and they won’t mention it. But Butter Book does!!

Unfortunately they don’t call it DDT! They made up some other name for it. I can overlook some things like their use of dark metal cake pans (aggh their cakes are so over baked!!!), and I cringe at their creaming butter at 70°F, but changing standardized baking terminology is just a violation of good teaching practices. No one in the industry uses the term they use. I was reading through a formula and had to re-read a line three times. It finally dawned on me they were referring to DDT.

But to learn the fundamentals from a video program, I would say it’s overall good good program. But it’s not going to teach you the science.

Thanks so much again! I will definitely check this out. I plan on ordering the Advanced Bread and Pastry book in the next day or two. After looking at some of the posts, I will also be re-evaluating my current tools.
 
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Since you mention the science of baking, I'd also recommend How Baking Works by Paula Figoni. It gives a very comprehensive overview of the function of ingredients in baking. It's very much a textbook; in fact, my biggest gripe with it is that it's meant to be used in a classroom setting and you miss out on some of the potential if you just read it as a home baker.

Each chapter has a list of activities/experiments to help see how the theoretical concepts in the chapter translate to practical baking. For example, in Fats, Oils, and Emulsifiers chapter, one experiment is making a bunch of cakes with different types of fats (butter, high-ratio liquid shortening, high-ratio plastic shortening, all-purpose shortening, vegetable oil, etc.) and then evaluating their characteristics. However, it's really only feasible to make a dozen different cakes purely to to test them for an experiment if you're in a classroom setting, not at home. So even though you can read about the functions of ingredients and how they differ from one another, you can't really see first-hand how these differences show up in an actual baked product.
 
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Since you mention the science of baking, I'd also recommend How Baking Works by Paula Figoni. It gives a very comprehensive overview of the function of ingredients in baking. It's very much a textbook; in fact, my biggest gripe with it is that it's meant to be used in a classroom setting and you miss out on some of the potential if you just read it as a home baker.

Each chapter has a list of activities/experiments to help see how the theoretical concepts in the chapter translate to practical baking. For example, in Fats, Oils, and Emulsifiers chapter, one experiment is making a bunch of cakes with different types of fats (butter, high-ratio liquid shortening, high-ratio plastic shortening, all-purpose shortening, vegetable oil, etc.) and then evaluating their characteristics. However, it's really only feasible to make a dozen different cakes purely to to test them for an experiment if you're in a classroom setting, not at home. So even though you can read about the functions of ingredients and how they differ from one another, you can't really see first-hand how these differences show up in an actual baked product.
Thank you, I will check out that book, too. While I won't be able to bake a lot of cakes in one session, I can learn the theory until I can get into a class.
 
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Since you mention the science of baking, I'd also recommend How Baking Works by Paula Figoni. It gives a very comprehensive overview of the function of ingredients in baking. It's very much a textbook; in fact, my biggest gripe with it is that it's meant to be used in a classroom setting and you miss out on some of the potential if you just read it as a home baker.

Each chapter has a list of activities/experiments to help see how the theoretical concepts in the chapter translate to practical baking. For example, in Fats, Oils, and Emulsifiers chapter, one experiment is making a bunch of cakes with different types of fats (butter, high-ratio liquid shortening, high-ratio plastic shortening, all-purpose shortening, vegetable oil, etc.) and then evaluating their characteristics. However, it's really only feasible to make a dozen different cakes purely to to test them for an experiment if you're in a classroom setting, not at home. So even though you can read about the functions of ingredients and how they differ from one another, you can't really see first-hand how these differences show up in an actual baked product.

@Cahoot How Baking Works is a good book. And I have a copy. But I always hesitate to recommend it because it all “theory” and not so much the “how” of baking. When you’re in the classroom you have an instructor to condense the information. You’re not working with a single ingredient but with several ingredients. So you’re looking at the overall chemistry as well as a particular ingredient. If you don’t have the basic foundation in baking, it can be very confusing and overwhelming.

Saus gives the just the right amount of “theory” in context to the how to form a foundation. You are an exception in that you are into the sciences, so taking in all that theory outside of a classroom comes pretty easy for you. Figoni book is definitely an excellent reference book, but I just wouldn’t recommend it for someone without any baking experience.
 
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@Cahoot How Baking Works is a good book. And I have a copy. But I always hesitate to recommend it because it all “theory” and not so much the “how” of baking. When you’re in the classroom you have an instructor to condense the information. You’re not working with a single ingredient but with several ingredients. So you’re looking at the overall chemistry as well as a particular ingredient. If you don’t have the basic foundation in baking, it can be very confusing and overwhelming.

Saus gives the just the right amount of “theory” in context to the how to form a foundation. You are an exception in that you are into the sciences, so taking in all that theory outside of a classroom comes pretty easy for you. Figoni book is definitely an excellent reference book, but I just wouldn’t recommend it for someone without any baking experience.
I very much agree honestly. I myself was a bit overwhelmed when I first read it - it wasn't so much that I didn't understand the material, but I didn't know how to apply in real life in practical settings. In fact I've actually read the book twice so far, the second time a few months after the first, since it was helpful to re-read all the information after I'd become more familiar and experienced with baking.

It's definitely not a book I would recommend by itself, so if anyone was to just get one book or a first book, I also think the Suas textbook can't be beat. But it's definitely a very good supplementary resource for someone who wants to learn more about baking science.
 
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I very much agree honestly. I myself was a bit overwhelmed when I first read it - it wasn't so much that I didn't understand the material, but I didn't know how to apply in real life in practical settings. In fact I've actually read the book twice so far, the second time a few months after the first, since it was helpful to re-read all the information after I'd become more familiar and experienced with baking.

It's definitely not a book I would recommend by itself, so if anyone was to just get one book or a first book, I also think the Suas textbook can't be beat. But it's definitely a very good supplementary resource for someone who wants to learn more about baking science.
@Cahoot i’ve always been impressed with your ability to grasp the science. The conversations that we’ve had on sugar, wheat, and eggs have at times been pretty complex. do you always understand what I’m talking about. Then you always ask really good questions. And my hope is that people that read the thread will gain something from it.

Understanding the theory and how the theory then applies to baking is so important to becoming a better baker. It’s the only way to troubleshoot your problems; help realize your visions in the kitchen; adjust when you have to change a brand of ingredient; allow you to introduce new ingredients.

What I envision in for my book is a better balance of theory and baking for the home baker. Help them better understand why they are doing what they are doing.
 
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@Cahoot i’ve always been impressed with your ability to grasp the science. The conversations that we’ve had on sugar, wheat, and eggs have at times been pretty complex. do you always understand what I’m talking about. Then you always ask really good questions. And my hope is that people that read the thread will gain something from it.

Understanding the theory and how the theory then applies to baking is so important to becoming a better baker. It’s the only way to troubleshoot your problems; help realize your visions in the kitchen; adjust when you have to change a brand of ingredient; allow you to introduce new ingredients.

What I envision in for my book is a better balance of theory and baking for the home baker. Help them better understand why they are doing what they are doing.
I do hope that others can also learn from our discussions on this forum. I know that I've learned a ton even just reading other people's threads, but oh boy are the questions just never ending coming from me.
 
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SHA

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I would be curious to hear more book recommendations - I know a lot of baking books have errors in them and sometimes knowing baking percentages can help you spot them before you bake but are there any books that you liked the recipes, are they any books you would definitely stay away from ? Do you think the Carole Walter, Rose Levy Berenbaum, and Sherry Yard books are good basic baking books ?
 
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I would be curious to hear more book recommendations - I know a lot of baking books have errors in them and sometimes knowing baking percentages can help you spot them before you bake but are there any books that you liked the recipes, are they any books you would definitely stay away from ? Do you think the Carole Walter, Rose Levy Berenbaum, and Sherry Yard books are good basic baking books ?

You need to understand the difference between a textbook and a recipe book. A textbook actually teaches you how to bake. It teaches you the science and the methods. It teaches you why you were doing what you are doing. It teaches you formulas.

A recipe book is simply a collection of recipes. there is a difference between a formula in a recipe. Bakers do not use recipes.


Recipe books, especially American books don’t teach you anything. and even those by so-called experts are not very impressive.

This is a photo of a yellow cake baked by Rose Levy Rosenbaum. This is from her blog date 2019. This cake is domed, cracked, clearly over baked. The crust is rough & sides did not rise evenly. Her brand of cake strip which is suppose to Insulate the cake pan from excessive heat, is made of silicone. Silicone is conductor of heat, so much so it is used as cake pan!!
612ACE80-F034-460F-909F-AA06AA558DA4.jpeg



RLB has never had any professional training. And it shows.
 

SHA

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But have you come across baking books that had really interesting recipes that you wouldn't have thought of that you collected ?
 
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But have you come across baking books that had really interesting recipes that you wouldn't have thought of that you collected ?

People who write recipe books are actually getting their information from culinary school and the textbooks not vice versa.


Baking textbooks are comprehensive: yeast breads; enriched doughs; specialty doughs like pate a choux; doughnuts; quick breads; laminated doughs; creamed, whipped and yeast cakes; all categories of icings; custards & creams; all categories of pies and tarts; cookies & brownies. Specialty desserts and components such as ice cream, semifreddo and sauces. Confectionary, so the basics of chocolate and sugar work. Specialty baking such as gluten-free and sugar-free.
 
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