Cookbook Review: Classic Home Desserts

Old Fashioned Maple Oatmeal Pudding, a vintage recipe circa 1880 from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

I found this huge compendium of desserts at my local library (my favorite place for cookbooks).  I am first and foremost, a dessert maker.  I cannot help myself.   If you look on my recipe page, you will see that a large portion of my posts are devoted to sweets.  So, naturally I gravitate more toward dessert cookbooks.

Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes
by Richard Sax is just about a baker’s nirvana.  With over 300 recipes on almost 700 pages, it contains just about every single dessert recipe ever created.  Ever.  Originally written in 1994, it has been reprinted with updated covers twice since.  The recipes, covering the history of all things sweet, covers sweets from all over the world.

There is a wide pink sidebar (oops! that’s blogger speak for margin) throughout the book next to the white of the main contents.  In the margin, Mr. Sax includes quotes, bits of trivia and even excerpts from journals and books from various ages of time.  These little snippets are as much fun as the recipes.

As the title infers, this book includes only desserts you would make at home; things your grandma made, foods that made family traditions.  Homey foods.  There are no fancy restaurant items included.  There is no nouveau cuisine.  Even the photos, what few there are, are simple and unpretentious.  Because of the magnitude of this project, Mr. Sax only gave single examples of many desserts.  You won’t find every single kind of fruit pie.  You won’t find every single kind of cookie.

Instead, you will find a chapter on cobblers and crisps wherein the author explains the differences between cobblers, betties, crisps, crumbles, pandowdies, buckles and slumps, giving a very decent recipe for each.  There are even a few little history lessons thrown in here and there for good measure.  Each other chapter follows a similar pattern.  All of the basic kinds desserts are represented.

This is the kind of book I would love to bake my way through!  I copied down a few recipes that I had never heard of, including this Oatmeal Pudding.  It is like a rice pudding, only with oatmeal.  It’s like baked oatmeal, if you have ever had it, only creamier.  Pour maple syrup over it and Wowza!Old Fashioned Maple Oatmeal Pudding, a vintage recipe circa 1880 from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

Cookbook Review: Classic Home Desserts
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I used gluten free)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins
  • pure maple syrup for serving
  1. Toast the oats on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile put the milk in a large microwavable container and nuke it for 8 minutes.
  3. When the oatmeal comes out of the oven, scoop it into the milk and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the oven temperature up to 375 degrees.
  5. Butter a 2 quart dish and find a bigger dish that it can fit into for a bain marie (water bath).
  6. Beat the eggs.
  7. Add them and the remaining ingredients to the oatmeal and pour into the 2 quart dish.
  8. Cover it with buttered foil.
  9. Set the dish in the bigger pan.
  10. Pour in enough hot water to reach partway up the sides of the oatmeal dish.
  11. Bake until the pudding is set, but not firm, you want it to jiggle a bit in the center, about 45 minutes.
  12. Cool to lukewarm and serve with the maple syrup.

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