December 09, 1996 12:00 PM

>IN THE DOUGH From simple to sophisticated, a trio of new books celebrates the staff of life:

BETH’S BASIC BREAD BOOK by Beth Hensperger The photographs (by Ilisa Katz) look good enough to gobble up, and Hensperger’s techniques (she writes and teaches in San Francisco) are simple enough for tyros looking for the rudiments of turning out baguettes, boules and braided rolls. (Chronicle, $29.95)

AMY’S BREAD by Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree Seasoned bakers who want to build on the basics can turn to the owner of Amy’s Bread, a Manhattan bakery, for more detailed bread talk and sophisticated variations on hearty, hearth-style loaves. (Morrow, $23)

BREADS FROM THE LA BREA BAKERY by Nancy Silverton Bakers who know their fougasse from their focaccia will find fresh challenges in this engaging new book from Spago’s former pastry chef. Silverton, who now co-owns L.A.’s chichi Campinile restaurant and popular La Brea Bakery, plunges right into a sourdough starter from scratch (a 14-day project) and goes beyond bread to include notes on the fine points of doughnuts and dog biscuits. (Villard, $30)

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