Earlier this week my childrenand I made 48 cupcakes with (two batches of) “1-2-3-4 cake”, a yellow cake recipe from Classic Home Desserts, and received several compliments and requests for the recipe. This inspired me to write a book review on the cookbook that it came from, which is my favorite cookbook for cake recipes. (It has other dessert recipes as well but I use it mostly for cakes.) I also plan to post this to Amazon as a customer review (which I have been doing for fun since 1998).
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
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.
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. (I amend the recipe by omitting the lemon from the frosting and use vanilla extract instead for a traditional cream cheese frosting that is not lemon flavored). The Chocolate Cloud Cake is to die for, and a must-try for chocoholics (use the best chocolate you can find for the best flavor). The All-American Fudge-Chunk Brownies are delicious and a far cry from supermarket boxed mixes.
I was raised in a home where cakes were baked from boxed mixes from the grocery store. I now know that cakes from scratch with quality ingredients are far superior in taste. Baking cakes from scratch is also not difficult at all and takes just a few minutes more than using a boxed mix (the extra time is the 3-4 minutes it takes to cream the butter and sugar).
A Kitchen Aid stand mixer is also a kitchen must-have and makes baking so easy!
Cookbooks that have different recipes than Classic Home Desserts which are also staples for baking in my kitchen are: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook for the bread recipes (easy to make with the stand-up mixer) and for Italian cookies and Christmas cookies: Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray: A Cookbookby Maria Bruscino Sanche.
This book would make a wonderful gift!