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The 10 baking cookbooks Australia’s top bakers love

Ten of Australia's best bakers share the cookbooks that have proven vital on their journey towards pastry mastery.
The 10 baking cookbooks Australia's top bakers loveRodney Macuja

1. The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard, chosen by Alistair Wise, Sweet Envy, Hobart

“It was London 2005 and Dan Lepard – the man among men, the bakery Adonis – had popped into The Connaught in Mayfair to chat with then-chef, Angela Hartnett. Me? I was struggling with how to get bigger holes in the bread. I’d tried various obscure ways. Dan suggested I try more hydration and a longer, natural ferment. The starter he helped me create sits in our shop. She’s called Agatha McGillicuddy, so named for a character from Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books. I can now knock out a decent loaf.”

2. Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, chosen by Courtney Gibb, Mary Street Bakery, Perth

“Milk is the baking book I’ve used most in the last seven years I love its unapologetic American style and sense of fun. Christina Tosi introduced me to so many new and innovative baking techniques and ideas. The milk crumb and cereal milk were the first recipes that I played around with, and I still use versions of them at Mary Street. It’s a great book for someone starting out – it’s easy to put your own stamp on things and you’re encouraged to experiment with different flavours and combinations.”

3. Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, chosen by Isaac Hull, Jocelyn’s Provisions, Brisbane

“When I started my apprenticeship this was the first baking book I bought and the start of a costly collection. I began baking through the pages straight away and forcing my family to eat every trial. This book taught me that while there are strict and fundamental rules in baking, there’s also so much room for experimentation and creativity. When I moved to New York I contacted Baked to see if they needed a pastry chef and I got a job with them. It was a dream come true.”

4. The Larousse Book of Bread by Éric Kayse, chosen by Scott Brannigan, Bread in Common, Perth

“I’m not really a trained baker I’m a chef first, but I’ve learnt on the job with the help of books like this. If something I’m doing is not 100 per cent working, this is the book I always go back to to review my methods. You could consider it your bread dictionary- it’s well illustrated with good recipes and is really comprehensive. Kayser talks through mothers and how to keep them, and gives a wonderful overview of the science behind bread.”

5. Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion by Paul Allam and David McGuinness, chosen by Gareth Grierson, Red Door Bakery, Adelaide

“I’m a chef by trade and not a baker, and that’s the same background as David and Paul. I got this book around the time that we were looking at opening Red Door. A lot of the over-the-top pâtisserie stuff from modern day might look great, but once you taste it, often all the flavours just melt into one. These recipes are different. I love the beautiful photography and rustic style. It’s real, wholesome food and always puts flavour first.”

6. Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, chosen by Michael James, Tivoli Road Bakery, Melbourne

“This book showed me that it was possible to create beautiful and interesting food in a context that’s more accessible than a restaurant kitchen. Elisabeth and Chad are very generous with information, providing awesome tips and bulletproof recipes for the home cook. So many of the classic Tartine pastries have provided foundations for what we do – from the cookies, scones, galettes and more. The first recipe I made was the lemon bars on brown butter shortbread. I couldn’t believe the flavour.”

7. Elizabeth David Classics by Elizabeth David, chosen by Phillippa Grogan, Phillippa’s Bakery, Melbourne

“This book was given to me by Jill Norman, Elizabeth David’s editor. It was soon after I met Elizabeth when she came to Clarke’s in London for lunch just three weeks before her death. It’s a 1980 edition and I think it came from the author’s own collection. Classics is three books: Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking and Summer Cooking. I particularly like the Siphniac honey pie, which we’ve made in our Armadale kitchen.”

8. The Roux Brothers on Patisserie by Michel and Albert Roux, chosen by Christopher Thé, Black Star Pastry, Sydney

“This book is pâtisserie ground zero. Even in the digital age when anything can be found online, it’s still my reference for the basics: choux, pâte brisée, crème pâtissière and the like. Roux recipes not only work, but they honestly make you feel that you’re continuing the legacy of pastry chefs who’ve gone before. My copy is stuck in the ’80s but a modern version also exists, a testament to its timelessness.”

9. Green and Gold Cookery Book by Annie Sharman, chosen by Emma Shearer, The Lost Loaf, Adelaide

“In 1923, Anne Sharman conceived the idea for this recipe book to raise funds for her community school in Adelaide. More than half a million copies have been sold, not just in South Australia but around the world. My copy was handed down to me by my mother, which was given to her by her mother. This little book has had a huge impact on my career. The recipes are what made me fall in love with baking: bread and butter pudding, rhubarb tart and the best scones you’ll ever taste.”

10. Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse, chosen by Andy Bowden, Saga, Sydney

“Having bluffed my way into a kitchen job all those years ago, with no real solid knowledge of anything, really, coming across this book was a lifesaver. It covers everything from dough and bread all the way through to plated desserts. The plating styles are slightly dated now, but the recipes are still solid. For many years it was my go-to ‘I need some sort of decorative element for my dessert’ book. There are so many different tuiles, and being an older book, it teaches the fundamentals without the use of a Thermomix.”

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