10 best baking books

From Danish flodeboller to orange and cardamom opera cake, get inspired in the kitchen

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The Independent Online

Well, here we are. It’s almost the day we all hoped would never come: the end of Bake Off as we know it. Whether you’ve been inspired by Candice and her gingerbread boozer or are still in mourning for Selasi, the man who singlehandedly redeemed the banking profession, there is one sure-fire way to carry on the Bake Off spirit into the end days of Channel 4, and that’s some good old-fashioned home baking. From faithful go-tos to new favourites, we’ve rounded up the baking books that never fail us to help you on your way.

1. Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly: £25, Penguin 

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Justin Gellatly is absolute baking royalty in London, as former head chef at the wonderful St John Bakery and owner of Borough Market’s Bread Ahead. His first book covers everything from sourdough starters to those legendary doughnuts with flair and an expertise that leaves you well-informed (to avoid a touch of the Selasis: “I don’t understand it, I’m just baking it”) as well as very hungry.

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2. ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygge by Bronte Aurell: £16.99, Ryland, Peters & Small

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Combining the latest buzzwords in our obsession with all things Scandi (neither have a direction translation in English, but ’hygge’ means something like warmth, cosiness, contentment, and ‘fika’, a coffee break with friends and something baked) with delicious recipes such as Danish flodeboller and classic kanelbullar, the second book from London’s ScandiKitchen is an absolute winner.

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3. Crumb by Ruby Tandoh: £20, Vintage

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She may have divided opinion while on the show, but you cannot argue with the quality of season four contestant Ruby’s first book. The recipes run into each other (rather than the classic recipe-per-page layout) and are so deliciously written that this is as good to read in bed with a cuppa as over the oven. The biscotti are simple but perfect, while unlikely flavour combinations such as olive and orange make for standout bakes.

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4. How to Bake by Paul Hollywood: £20, Bloomsbury 

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I am reluctant to include He Who Must Not Be Named in light of the whole Channel 4 debacle, but the male judge’s How to Bake is an always-reliable book I come back to again and again. From focaccia to croissants, there is not a dud recipe in here and those that once seemed out-of-reach complicated are made simple with straight-talking, easy-to-follow steps.

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5. The Primrose Bakery Everyday by Martha Swift: £25, Vintage

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The Primrose Bakery franchise might be best known for its cupcake offering, but the latest book encompasses layer cakes, loaf cakes and cookies too, all organised into seasonal chapters and with the bakery's signature American feel (think peanut butter brownie cups and maple and bacon cupcakes). Highlights include cookie dough and Creme Egg cupcakes, maple banana loaf with butterscotch glaze and cinnamon loaf. Need we say any more?

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6. Patisserie at Home by Will Torrent: £19.99, Ryland, Peters & Small

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For those who take their sugar seriously, Patisserie at Home is as awe-inspiring as it is drool-worthy. Including both classics, from fraisier to millefeuille, and creative twists such as lemon and yuzu meringue tart (perhaps where Rav drew inspiration from?), you will need patience, steady hands and kitchen confidence to attempt these recipes, but once you do will be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve.

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7. Mary Berry’s Baking Bible: £25, Ebury

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HRH Mary Berry has brought out so many books over the years it’s hard to know which to start with, but this is worth buying simply for the ‘Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake’ recipe. It’s best for the classics, such as sultana malt loaves and swiss roll, and for trying your hand at former Bake Off technicals including mokatines. 

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8. John Whaite Bakes At Home: £20, Headline

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I’ve raved about this book here before, but two years on and it’s still a firm favourite. From series three (Bake Off’s pinnacle, in my opinion) winner John Whaite, this book covers both humble, homely food, such as Marmite and cheddar loaf, and the more complex – try the orange and cardamom opera cake – with a sense of humour and warmth that makes it all feel achievable.

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9. Home Bake by Eric Lanlard: £14.99, Octopus

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It may lack the sophisticated, pared-back design that is now popular in baking books, but Eric Lanlard’s – aka, Channel 4’s Cake Boy – 2012 tome never lets me down. The chocolate fondants, baked blueberry cheesecake and lemon and passion fruit tart are three of my favourite dinner-party desserts, and I haven’t found a better cookie recipe yet.

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10. Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs: £20, Murdoch

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I expect the title alone has you sold, but just in case, this, from world-class chocolatier Kirsten Tibballs, is an excellent book for the more experienced baker. Chocolate can be a difficult beast to handle, but clear instructions and a helpful difficulty rating for each recipe guide you through techniques from tempering to mousse cakes. There is not a recipe in here that you won’t want to make.

Buy now 

The Verdict: Baking books

For a first foray into baking, you can't do much better than Bake Off's very own Mary and Paul, while the more experienced baker will relish tucking into Justin Gellatly and John Whaite's offerings.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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