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Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World [Hardcover]

Richard Sax
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 17 1994
No fancy concoction by a pastry chef can match the direct appeal of a dessert made by a good home cook, whether a berry cobbler, a lemon meringue pie, a sour-cream cheesecake or a bowl of freshly churned ice cream. For the better part of a decade, Richard Sax has searched out 350 of the most treasured home desserts from around the globe. The result is the most comprehensive collection of its kind yet assembled. 'These are the desserts made at home by mothers and grandmothers rather than by professional pastry chefs,' Sax writes. 'Those included are only the best in each category-the things you can bring to your table with confidence, knowing they will be eaten to the last crumb.' Every dessert you've ever wanted to make is here: --Fruit cobblers, crisps and compotes --Puddings, creams and soufflés --Pies and tarts of every description --Sauces and ice creams --Simple pastries --Plain cakes, fancy cakes and coffee cakes Recipes include: Southern-Style Peach and Raspberry Cobbler, Frozen

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Food writer Richard Sax compiles a massive selection of over 300 classic dessert recipes. Cobblers, fools, creams, pastries and cakes of every variety, including cheesecakes, are described--delights to tempt the most replete of dinner guests at the end of a meal. The recipes are drawn from old cookbooks, family collections and Sax's own repertoire of classics, giving the book the feel of an old-fashioned heirloom handed down from some perfect past; Sax includes some fascinating culinary history. Thankfully, a few allowances are made for modern taste, including reduced fat and calorie content in many of the recipes. 1995 Winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award in the Bread, Baking and Sweets Category.

From Publishers Weekly

More than a decade in the making, according to Sax (Old-Fashioned Desserts), this vast and user-friendly international compendium of desserts will seem congenial territory to the many home cooks whose culinary passion has always been that final course. Sax eschews such special-occasion masterpieces as wedding cakes and complicated pastries, to survey four broad types of desserts: warm fruit desserts and smooth, thickened dishes, like mousses and fools; custards and starch-thickened puddings; baked goods (about half the book), from cookies to cakes, pies and tarts; and frozen desserts and sauces. Beginning with thorough coverage of cookware and ingredients, including sources, tips on techniques and a table of equivalents, Sax plunges right into the fruit recipes. They, like all others, come with a bit of history, suggestions about variations and substitutions and sidebars of chatty quotes from noted chefs, excerpts from fiction and historical documents or reproductions of early recipes. Sax offers a highly usable collection sure to brighten the task of family cooks and bring smiles to those who sit at their tables. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
"Classic Home Desserts" has a lot of style and character. You'll find historical details on many of the recipes, quotes from interesting people, and useful tips and hints. I particularly love the "Equivalent Pan Sizes" chart. Richard Sax goes into a fair amount of detail about what, for example, a cobbler really is, and how it differs from crisps, brown Bettys, crumbles, pandowdies, and shortcakes.

This book is heavy on the fruit; you'll find a recipe for whatever is in season. There are cobblers, crisps, compotes, baked fruit, fools, jellies, fruitcakes, pies, tarts, etc. If it's the dead of winter and you just can't find good fruit, you'll still find plenty to work with. There are puddings, custards, souffles, dumplings, cookies, cakes, coffee cakes, cheesecakes, custard pies, pastries, and so on. And these recipes are good. I really mean *good.* Here I see the huge star we put next to the Mixed Fruit Cobbler. Turn the page and you'll see a gorgeous picture of Panna Cotta and Poached Pears in Merlot Syrup. Yet another large ball-point pen star graces the New Hampshire "Plate Cake."
You'll find new and old recipes here. Recipes by people you've never heard of as well as big-name chefs (on p. 163 you'll find Jasper White's Maple Sugar Creme Caramel). My favorite cookies are M.F.K. Fisher's Ginger Hottendots. Trust me--no one can eat just five, and they travel well in the mail at holiday-time.

With this much variety you won't like everything you find. But this book is well worth what you pay for it for the sheer volume of recipes, the quality, and the ease of production. I predict you'll find, as we did, that this book becomes a staple in your kitchen.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly A Classic June 27 2003
This book starts out with much promise. The author has been the director of a test kitchen. The dust jacket has a number of glowing reviews by respected authors of baking cookbooks. The object of this book was to capture and preserve all those old-fashioned, classic desserts that should never be forgotten. The author claims to have done extensive testing of all the centuries of recipes from old cookbooks and grandmothers' recipe boxes, and presents only the best ones in each subject. Sadly, the result is a below average collection of baking recipes.
The recipes are something less than classic. Most of the recipes are new-age "twists" on old classics. The author has a penchant for the unusual and off-beat (if I were less charitable, I would call his taste downright weird). He does not have recipes for the original pound cake (even his quatre-quarts is an oddball version using stiff egg whites), nor a straight, plain apple pie. His historical research was apparently not thorough, as he does not include recipe for one of the original fruit desserts: gooseberry fool (the chapters on fresh fruit desserts are the least objectionable in my opinion). Plus, his testing does not appear to have been thorough: for example, the recipe for Espresso-Cinnamon Ice Cream has a brewing time for the coffee that is way too long. It is also important to note that a food processor and large, stand mixer are required for most (perhaps as much as two-thirds; I didn't really count) recipes.
On the positive side, I liked the recipe for Frozen Cappuccino (don't ask me for another recipe I really liked, as I couldn't find one). He is also the only cookbook author I am aware of who has read Apicius, Varenne, Câreme, and Francatelli. The most valuable part of the book is the bibliography, which has an amazing list of historical sources that the author found at the New York Public Library.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Nov. 28 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book because of its awards and rave reviews. I also bought it to prepare for an annual informal pie contest held by friends. I had hoped to find a special, winning recipe. I baked five pie/tart recipes and ended up using none for the contest as the results ranged from poor to good but nothing was spectacular. I consider myself to be an experienced baker and I was expecting so much more than what I got. I made the following pies: lime chiffon, buttermilk, sweet potato pecan, caramel walnut tart, rice pie, and holiday nut tart with chocolate glaze. I also made the rich, all butter pie crust. The lime chiffon pie was a little too tart and had a somewhat gelatinous texture. It certainly cannot compare to a real key lime pie. Noone at my dinner enjoyed it. The sweet potato pecan pie had bland, overly-sweet potato filling, with a sugary topping that was not at all reminiscent of real pecan pie, as promised. Again, all tasters at that dinner party were underwhelmed. The rice pie, promised to be one of the best recipes in the book, was fine but not anything special - it was firm rice pudding in a shell. The only three I would make again were the nut tarts and the buttermilk pie and, surprisingly, the buttermilk pie was my overall favorite. It tasted almost like a light, lemony cheesecake. The holiday nut tart had a bitter edge to it - it might have helped to use a different combination of nuts, I'm not sure. The caramel walnut tart was well liked by all and I have no criticism of it, but can note nothing exceptional either. Lastly, the pie pastry recipe ended up feeling greasy and the food processor method made it tougher than the pastry recipe I usually use. Not wanting to take the same risk for the patee sucre for the tarts, I used another, known, recipe for them. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of only a few cookbooks that I could not live without
One of only a few cookbooks that I use over and over again due to the sheer number of useable recipes. Read more
Published on April 25 2004 by Paperback Junkie
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbeatable
I bought my copy of this cookbook as an engagement gift for a friend who subsequently broke things off with her cad of a fiance. She insisted that I take the gift back. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed but ready to keep trying.
None of the recipes I've tried in the book are worth repeating. The 'Custardy Prune Pudding' was hard and rubbery. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Desserts that always work
This is a great cookbook especially if you like rice puddings, bread puddings, cobblers and cookies. Good clear instructions. Read more
Published on April 18 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Some wonderful versions of recipes that you thought you knew
I want to go on record that Sax's apple pancake is so good it is worth the price of the book. He has many interesting recipes that you may have seen elsewhere, but his are better,... Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2001 by Gary McCray
5.0 out of 5 stars Great dessert recipes and fun to read!
The focus of this book is classic American home desserts. You won't find those fancy desserts that look elegant but are completely tasteless in this book. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2001 by mirope
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Part of the Meal...Dessert
I really like desserts, and since I like desserts so much I'm fussy and don't want to waste the effort making them and the calories eating them if they aren't good. Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2000 by Allie Kat
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the ingredients or effort!
I took this book out from the library because of the reviews given. I made the 1-2-3-4 cake to use up some buttermilk I had. Read more
Published on July 23 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the ingredients or effort!
I took this book out from the library because of the reviews given. I made the 1-2-3-4 cake to use up some buttermilk I had. Read more
Published on July 23 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Volumn
Great book, wonderful notes, beautiful photo, terrific backround and general instructions, sensible guidelines. Read more
Published on July 17 2000 by R. G. Rosa
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