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Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World Hardcover – 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1994
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Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson
"Near & Far" by Heidi Swanson
A deeply personal collection of over 120 vegetarian recipes with from all around the globe from a bestselling author who loves to cook and travel. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Richard Sax has it right: the most accomplished pastry-chef creations don't provide the direct pleasures of good-old homemade desserts. Sax's Classic Home Desserts, first published in 1994, more than makes the point. A classic itself, the book offers more than 350 clear, accessible recipes for the world's home desserts--everything from cobblers and crisps to puddings, pies, and sauces to ice creams, simple pastries, and cakes of all kinds--while providing tips for success, a truly useful glossary of baking equipment, plus 48 color photos depicting the confections in their simple glory. It's hard to imagine a cook--would-be, amateur, or professional--who wouldn't want this comprehensive collection.

In chapters covering every conceivable homemade dessert type, which, besides those listed above, includes sweet pancakes and dumplings, cookies, creams, fools, jellies, tarts, and more, Sax offers a repertoire that's both old-fashioned, and, where desirable, innovative. (But discreetly so: he likes to add a little fresh ginger to his plum crisp, for example.) The recipe titles tell all: Southern-Style Peach and Raspberry Cobbler, Peanut Butter Pie with Fudge Topping, The World's Best Lemon Tart, Double Chocolate Pudding, and Split-Level Lime Chiffon Pie are representative American offerings. Old World specialties include Sephardic Walnut Cake with Honey-Lemon Syrup, Ricotta Strudel from Trieste, and Custardy Prune Pudding or Far Breton, one of Brittany's best-loved sweets, among others. A full repertoire of cookies, from New Mexican Anise Christmas Cookies to 1950s Pecan Puffs, makes the book a great holiday baking resource. With information on techniques, historical and anecdotal notes, and reprints of old recipes, the book is a trove of good information as well as great dessert-making direction. --Arthur Boehm

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618003916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618003914
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.7 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ChristineMM TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I received this as a gift in 1994, the year it was first published. Although I have a large cookbook collection now, I use less than ten on a regular basis. Classic Home Desserts is a great cookbook and is my staple for baking desserts, especially for cake recipes.

I feel that healthy eating is best, but desserts do have a special place-mostly reserved for holidays and special occasions in our household. My policy is that if I am going to eat a dessert, I want it to be worth the calories, fat and carbs. There is nothing worse than eating a dessert that is flavorless or just inferior quality-but you won't have that problem with baking from THIS cookbook.

After getting married and then, later, after having children, I began a tradition to bake a birthday cake for my family members from scratch and this cookbook is my recipe source. Each time I serve a dessert from this book I receive numerous compliments. Several people have also suggested that I open a bakery or start a home business baking desserts. This always surprises me as all I did was follow the directions in the recipes in this book-nothing special was done on my part and certainly the recipes are not my original creations. For the cakes, I am always surprised when people are shocked when they find that the cake actually has flavor-because they have grown used to grocery store baked cakes which have almost no flavor!

Our family favorite for yellow cake is the 1-2-3-4 cake, it is very moist and flavorful and always receives rave reviews. I also use the 1-2-3-4 cake recipe, as per the books directions, as the cake portion of the Boston Crème Pie. The Applesauce-Carrot Cake is the absolute best carrot cake I've ever had in my life, and friends and relatives agree.
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By A Customer on April 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If I had only one book on desserts, this would be it. It is a joy to read, interesting, informative and precise. The recipes are spectacular and quite doable in an ordinary kitchen. The World's Best Lemon Tart is sensational and the best I've had. In fact, everything I've tried is terrific and I'm looking forward to trying more. I wrote this review because I wanted to share something wonderful with as many people as possible. If you're a dessert lover, this book is a must have.
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Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Hardcover
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. This book covers the classics in every category - cakes, cookies, puddings, custards, pies, pastries, frozen desserts - so no matter what you're in the mood for you should be able to find something in here. I've had the book for several years and have never had anything fail. The directions are clear and well laid out, although I wouldn't have minded more pictures. Some of my favorites are the White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, Edna Lewis's Sunday Night Cake, Omaha Caramel Bread Pudding, Boston Cream Pie, and Baked Custard-Style Rice Pudding.
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By A Customer on November 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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