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Stress Bake with These 7 Essential Los Angeles Restaurant Cookbooks

Bake cakes, biscuits, and scones for all the comforts quarantine can bring

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Bake Marge Manzke’s strawberry white chocolate scones.
Marge Manzke’s strawberry white chocolate scones.
Kristin Teig
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

Whereas making bread from scratch or baking an intricate layer cake often seemed too time consuming prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s decidedly slower pace means that there’s no better time to tackle an especially laborious baking project. Stress baking is the salve of the day, and Los Angeles’s talented pastry chefs are here to guide and serve as inspiration. From Marge Manzke’s Baking at République to Zoe Nathan’s Huckleberry, here now are seven essential LA cookbooks chock-full of recipes for both expert and novice bakers.

Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan

Blueberry cornmeal cake at Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe.
Blueberry cornmeal cake
Matt Armendariz

About: Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen comes from Zoe Nathan, who owns and operates neighborhood favorite Huckleberry in Santa Monica with her husband Josh Loeb. This book is for anyone who’s ever waited in the bakery’s winding weekend line, hemmed and hawed at the tremendous pastry selection, and was finally rewarded with one of the best morning meals in town. From breads of all stripes — bagels, brioche, bagels, and English muffins — to savory plates topped with a sunny egg, every recipe channels Huckeberry’s laid back vibe, warm service, and dependably good cooking. [Amazon | Bookshop]

What to make: Maple bacon biscuits, jelly doughnuts, blueberry cornmeal cake, fried egg sandwich, green eggs and ham

Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard

Sherry Yard
Sherry Yard
Official Photo

About: With decades of experience creating show-stopping desserts for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant empire and beyond, Sherry Yard generously and effortlessly shares her knowledge and life story in Desserts by the Yard. Whereas Yard’s first book The Secrets of Baking featured more done-up sweets and classic French pastries, this second title celebrates down-home desserts like ice cream floats and strawberry parfaits. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is nothing short of quintessential. Woven within the pages are vivid tales from Yard’s life and career spanning Brooklyn to Beverly Hills. [Amazon]

What to make: apple strudel, fig bars, chocolate chip cookie

Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore

Cookies from Pasadena’s Little Flower.
Cookies from Pasadena’s Little Flower
Staci Valentine

About: Christine Moore’s Little Flower has been cheerfully serving its western Pasadena neighborhood since opening in 2007. The collection of deeply comforting recipes in Little Flower Baking run the gamut from strawberry rose scones to bread pudding and raw granola bars; there are even recipes for warm beverages like golden milk and Mexican hot chocolate. Consider starting with the shop’s rightfully famous marshmallows — wonderfully chubby candies dusted in coarse sugar. While making marshmallows from scratch might seem intimidating at first, rest assured that the carefully written recipe arms even the most timid cooks with all the tools and steps needed for success. [Amazon | Bookshop]

What to make: Marshmallows, olive oil cake with browned butter buttercream frosting, buttermilk pretzel dogs

Breads from the La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton

Nancy Silverton
Nancy Silverton
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

About: Los Angeles owes its dynamic bread scene to Nancy Silverton, who launched the artisanal bread revolution at La Brea Bakery back in 1988. Silverton’s original sourdough starter, which was developed using flour, water, and wild yeasts from the skin of organic grapes, remains the signature ingredient in every single loaf the bakery makes. With Breads from the La Brea Bakery, Silverton adapts her legendary loaf recipe for dedicated home bakers. Begin with Silverton’s instruction for starting and maintaining a sourdough starter. It takes two solid weeks to get it going, but once the starter is alive and thriving, the possibilities are virtually endless. [Amazon | Bookshop]

What to make: 14-day sourdough starter, olive-herb bread, chocolate sour cherry bread

Sweet by Valerie Gordon

A collections of chocolates and cake on a white table.
A collection of sweets from Valerie Confections.
Valerie Confections

About: The 115 recipes in Valerie Gordon’s aptly titled Sweet are inspired by Valerie Confections, the business and retail shops that she launched with her husband Stan Weightman Jr. in 2004. The book is divided into eight sections: Pedestal (celebration desserts), Plate (everyday cakes), Tin (pies and tarts), Box (chocolates and confections), Bowl (desserts to eat with a spoon), Jar (cookies and bars), Larder (jams and marmalades), and Hand (breakfast and snacks to eat on the go). For those seeking a challenge, Gordon’s elegant petits fours are simply irresistible, especially the ginger one enrobed in a bittersweet chocolate glaze. Another worthy baking endeavor is Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake topped with scratch-made honeycomb candy. [Amazon]

What to make: Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake, Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake, ginger petit fours, peppermint bark, Durango cookies

Baking at République by Marge Manzke

Bread at Republique
Sierra Prescott

About: The pastry counter at République is renowned for its sheer variety and unparalleled abundance. Marge Manzke and her team of dedicated bakers begin every day at 3:30 a.m., filling the case with some of the city’s most pleasure-inducing pastries, from cookies to doughnuts to cardamom sticky buns. The pages of Baking at République capture Manzke’s generous spirit and the warmth of her daytime operation. Every chapter begins with a master recipe followed by a plethora of ways to riff off of the principle dough. For example, once one learns how to make pain au lait, caramel doughnuts and a matcha-raspberry bostock are within reach. Manzke’s logical premise and encouraging voice make this book an indispensable guide for every home baker. [Amazon | Bookshop]

What to make: Sticky bombs, croissants, bacon-cheddar-jalapeno muffins

Dappled by Nicole Rucker

A fruit pie from chef Nicole Rucker.
A fruit pie from chef Nicole Rucker
Nicole Rucker

About: Nicole Rucker of Fat and Flour inside Grand Central Market has been obsessed with fruits ever since she was a kid. Published last year, her debut cookbook Dappled celebrates nature’s juicy bounty on every page. By design, every recipe encourages bakers to use whatever fruits are on hand and provides guidance on how to transform them into wonderful creations regardless of the season. With farmers markets still operating throughout many parts of the city, Dappled is a terrific source of inspiration for early spring berries and rhubarb, as well as late-season citrus. [Amazon | Bookshop]

What to make: Key lime pie, rhubarb and blood orange pavlova, backyard citrus upside down cake

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624 South La Brea Avenue, , CA 90036 (310) 362-6115 Visit Website

Grand Central Market

317 South Broadway, , CA 90013 (213) 359-6007 Visit Website

La Brea Bakery Cafe

468 South La Brea Avenue, , CA 90036 (323) 939-6813 Visit Website

Huckleberry Cafe

1014 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90401 (310) 451-2311 Visit Website

Little Flower

25-35 36th Avenue, Queens, NY 11106

Valerie Confections

1936 West Glenoaks Boulevard, , CA 91201 (213) 739-8149 Visit Website