Hey, there’s a critical mass of librarians here. You didn’t think this wouldn’t happen, did you? Not all of them are still in print or widely available, but ask around – we can help you track them down – it’s an official librarian party trick!
We’ll impose some sort of order on the list (and maybe move it somewhere more interactive like LibraryThing) as more titles are added. Please suggest titles with a brief abstract or favorite recipe in the comments.
Beranbaum, Rose Levy, The Bread Bible, W.W. Norton 2003
Equal parts biography, science and simple tips for success with all types of breads. Recipes are easy to follow, and yet there’s plenty of background reading if you’re looking for that. Steph’s pizza dough comes from this book, as does her favorite ciabatta recipe.
Greenspan, Dorrie, Baking with Julia, New York: Morrow 1996.
The companion book to the PBS series, this is a favorite of Scott’s, mostly due to the exceptional photos – there are more than 8 stylists and photographers credited. The series was done late in her life and mostly consisted of guest bakers joining Julia to show off their baking – guests included Martha Stewart and Marion Cunningham – so simple recipes were not the goal. A good introduction chapter briefly covers techniques and equipment, but is no replacement for a full baking discussion like The Bread Bible or Bakewsie. A nice feature is that all the base recipes – brioche, génoise, meringue, etc. – are set out in their own chapter. The (elaborate) Brioche Sticky Bun recipe comes from this book.
Junior League of Baton Rouge, River Road Recipes, Baton Rouge, La.: The League 1959.
The River Road runs from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Given this culinary geography, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most famous Junior League cookbooks – the 1962 printing that Scott has indicates that in the first four years, the cookbook sold 50,000 copies. The League today claims River Road is the bestselling community cookbook ever, with 1.9 million copies in print and three successor volumes. It’s also now available online by subscription. It’s worth noting that Scott’s copy is his grandmother’s since his mother (born in Baton Rouge) wouldn’t part with hers. The Nut Butter Crunch toffee recipe by Mrs. Joseph Yoder is from page 213 of River Road Recipes.
Katzen, Mollie, The New Moosewood Cookbook, New Revised Edition, Ten Speed Press, 2000
This is a great all-around vegetarian and health-conscious cookbook, with simple recipes that are easily adaptable.
The Week (weekly newsmagazine).
Yes, it’s odd to list a newsmagazine here – one I usually describe as “reader’s digest for the news junkie” – but they have a nice food and drink page that selects one recipe or meal in each issue. It’s a quick and easy way to see one new recipe a week and they also usually have some nice wine and beer advice. Scott discovered the Almond Cake recipe in The Week.