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Classic Home Desserts

by Richard Sax


If ever a book were a labor of love, this is it. Sax’s career reached its height in late 1980s and early ’90s New York. A contributor to Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, he spent a decade exhaustively researching the best desserts made by home cooks the world over. Chapters are divided, Linnaeus-like, by families: cobblers and crisps, sweet dumplings, cookies… Sadly, Sax died tragically young (aged just 46) soon after the book was published. Critics and food writers, including Nigella Lawson and Dorie Greenspan, rate this book among their most revered, and the recipes among the most reliable.

from the publisher

“More a story of the pleasures of real dessert-making than anything yet written.”—M.F.K. Fisher

For this monumental collection, Richard Sax devoted more than a decade to searching out and perfecting more than 350 of the world’s most beloved desserts, “the ones made at home by mothers and grandmothers rather than by professional pastry chefs.” Every uncomplicated homespun classic is here: cobblers and crisps, cakes and cookies, puddings and soufflés, pies and pastries, ice creams and sauces—nineteen chapters in all.

Sax’s versions are justifiably legendary among accomplished bakers: Traditional Two-Berry Buckle • Chocolate Cloud Cake • Bon Ton’s New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce • Reuben’s Legendary Apple Pancake • Best-Ever Pumpkin Pie • Schrafft’s Hot Fudge Sauce. Sidebars with every recipe—profiles of cooks, engaging recollections of favorite desserts, quotations from hundreds of literary works, and excerpts from old recipes—show how sweets are indelibly woven into the texture of our lives.

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Original Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of publication

Features & Stories

Recommended by

Elizabeth Schneider

Food Journalist and Cookbook Author

I’m not a big dessert-fancier, but when there’s company, I often I turn to this truly comprehensive collection. As rich in lore as in technical advice, it is a pleasure to meander through its tales as well as its enormous repertoire of un-fussy recipes. Biscotti and cornmeal cakes are favorites, and I have sweet memories of enjoying both with Richard as he tested recipes in his New York City loft.

Nigella Lawson

Author, journalist, broadcaster and television personality

The canon of home baking in America (and beyond) has always held a particular fascination for me, and this book is an engaging compendium of the genre.

Robyn Eckhardt

Food and travel journalist and author

Marion Nestle

Academic, food activist and author