While most of these books are probably considered “chick lit,” foodie fiction is how I love to unwind. And while romance may be the most popular plot when it comes to this genre, to me it makes perfect sense, as cooking (or baking!) for someone…sharing a meal with someone, is so often how love is expressed, whether it be romantic, familial or platonic.
Below is a list of my favorite baking-related books (so far!). But…I’m excited to keep adding to the list as I discover new reads. So please, in the comments below, let me know which books you think are missing.
Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks
For those with a soft spot for the Pacific Northwest, café life & bread baking, this is the novel for you. It’s also an inspiring book for those looking to make a change, as it encourages the reader that it’s never too late to pursue a dream you had long ago resigned yourself to.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
I LOVED this book. It had all my romantic notions woven together in one story: rebellious city pastry chef flees the city and finds herself the baker at a rural Vermont inn living in a cottage heated by a wood burning stove (swoon!). The author herself was a pastry chef, so the food terminology is legit. The story revolves around perfecting an apple pie recipe (recipe is included but, having a fear of pie crust, I've never made it), but tons of other baked goods make an appearance, as well.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
I’m biased towards this book, as it takes place in my hometown of Milwaukee, WI and it was fun to personally relate to Reichert’s local references. While the book has a bit more of a savory theme (the protagonist is a chef/restaurant owner), it does, as the title implies, revolve around a coconut cake [recipe is included, but I have yet to make it]. I actually preferred her other novel, The Simplicity of Cider, but The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is still a fun foodie read with the requisite romantic happy ending.
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal
I love this book because it shows the absolute skill O’Neal has in romanticizing the bakery-owner life. Basically, everything about the protagonist’s bakery is falling apart before her eyes, and the business person in me was cringing the entire time. Yet I still managed to fly through the book and finish it with a reinforced admiration for the baking business and the continued dream of opening my own.
(fyi – I tried the muffin recipe included in the book, but, personally, I’d say it wasn’t as good as the book itself.)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Admittedly, this is the anomaly of the list. But years ago, I read this for a book club and absolutely feel in love. It’s dark and eerie…and beautiful. And while in no traditional sense would it be classified as a “baking” (or even “foodie”) novel, there is the memory of a gentle giant who loves to bake cakes that continues to haunt me in a wonderful way.
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On a side note…a few food novels I really enjoyed (that aren't focused on baking): The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones, and the painfully beautiful The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.
[Updated April 23, 2019]
How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
This book is fun for many reasons, most of which is that the cupcakery is called “Treat” – which was the name of my business. So, I guess you could assume I’m a bit partial 😉 But what I genuinely appreciated about this book is that it wasn’t about a bakery that’s on the brink of failure (as seems to be the theme in most baking novels) – it is, in fact, wildly successful. Instead, the focus is on the friendship of the two women owners. Showing that even in the midst of running an all-consuming business, the messiness that is life still needs to be enjoyed.
[Updated February 8, 2022]
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
This fun, light, page-tuner of a read is The Great British Bakeoff-esque, but from the juicy, romantic behind-the-scenes perspective of the contestants participating. The baking terms are impressively spot on, as well. The only thing missing is Alexis Hall's brownie recipe. 😉
What is your favorite baking novel? I'd love to know! Please share in the comments below. 👇