One of my most tattered cookbooks (obtained in college!) is Classic Home Desserts, by Richard Sax. It’s packed with 350 recipes for down-home treats (photographed beautifully) like dried apple “pour-through” pie—you pour cream through the vents—and creamy diner-style rice pudding, all almost universally delicious. The book’s also fun to just look through. Sax, winner of a James Beard Award, researched the history of desserts, and includes fascinating sidebar excerpts from old-timey cookbooks. Who knew that Americans baked a “trendy specialty” at the turn of the 19th century called watermelon cake? It contained no watermelon, but did have “red sugar” and raisins.

Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World, $12.78

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