Here are some Chowhound-endorsed baking cookbooks that cover the gamut from yeast breads through pastry and cakes that are suitable for hounds just getting in the baking groove. They’ve got clear explanations of technique but are approachable, not intimidating in tone, and have enough recipes to keep you interested once you’ve got the basics down.
Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook is comprehensive, with lots of photos, good explanations of equipment, and recipes from simple to moderately complex, so you’ll be using it long after you’re no longer a beginner. Even chowhounds who say they have no use for Martha highly recommend this one.
Nick Malgieri’s How to Bake is wide ranging and thorough, with an unfussy tone, says Hungry Celeste, and his recipes always work, according to Kelli2006.
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion has many fans, who say the recipes are fantastic. Velda Mae warns, however, that she’s found some editing errors that can cause confusion.
Baking Illustrated is a compilation of articles and recipes from Cook’s Illustrated, and fans of that magazine’s exhaustive approach to researching the hows and whys of their recipes find it a great primer for learning baking technique as well as a source of good recipes.
Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America “guides you through with a knowledgeable hand,” says NYchowcook.
Fearless Baking, by Eleanor Klivans, doesn’t include yeast breads, but does include sweet and savory pastries and cakes, and gives very clear instructions, building from simpler to more complex techniques.