Without baking, there are no holidays. Here are the new cookbooks that have us softening butter and feeding our starters (yes, still). They make wonderful gifts, and you’ll get bonus points for including a digital scale.

Claudia Fleming’s foolproof desserts are collected in Delectable: Sweet & Savory Baking.

Delectable: Sweet & Savory Baking, by Claudia Fleming with Catherine Young (Random House, $40). The casually elegant seasonal desserts that Claudia Fleming served at peak Gramercy Tavern (circa 1994 to 2002) inspired a generation of pastry chefs. (You can thank her for the salted-caramel-chocolate tart.) Home bakers spent up to $200 for out-of-print copies of her 2001 bible, The Last Course, reissued in 2019. Two decades later, Delectable delivers a new suite of classics for the confident baker. Fleming isn’t trying to re-invent herself for TikTok. Rather, her fruity palate and well-balanced love of American and European favorites are back in style. In Fleming’s world, peach-and-blackberry cobbler is topped with ricotta biscuits, devil’s-food cake is layered with Earl Grey–infused cream, a wintry Tatin is brightened with kumquats, and sticky buns are filled with shiitakes. By combining a career’s worth of wisdom with her truly delectable recipes, Fleming has created yet another ambitious collection that will inspire for decades to come.

Claire Saffitz shares her latest sensations in What’s for Dessert.

What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People, by Claire Saffitz (Clarkson Potter, $37.50). Having been fortunate enough to taste Claire Saffitz’s food daily for almost five years when we worked at Bon Appétit, I can attest that her recipes are always delicious, highly original, and developed with near-scientific rigor. (Watch her delightful Gourmet Makes video series for proof.) Her second book isn’t simple in a dump-and-stir way; the best kind of over-achiever, Saffitz loves to twist a classic—then twist it again. Rather, most of the recipes take less than two and a half hours to make, be it a burnt-maple pain perdu, a seedy whole-wheat chocolate-chip skillet cookie, a roasted-lemon tart, or a malted-banana-upside-down cake with malted cream. The how-to section alleviates any technique-driven anxiety, further reinforcing Saffitz’s status as her generation’s sweetest guide.

Elegant, restaurant-worthy ice creams from J. R. Ryall’s Ballymaloe Desserts.

Ballymaloe Desserts: Iconic Recipes & Stories from Ireland, by J. R. Ryall (Phaidon, $59.95). The dessert trolley at Ballymaloe House, in East Cork, Ireland, counts as one of the wonders of the sweets world. Canonized in the 1960s by the inn and restaurant’s late founder, Myrtle Allen, the three-tiered cart proffers nightly treasures from each of five categories: fruit; meringue; mousse, jelly, ice cream, or fool; ice cream, sorbet, or granita; and pastry, cake, or pudding. Guests are wise to take one of each. Head pastry chef J. R. Ryall attended Ballymaloe’s Cookery School when he was 13 and essentially never left. Now in his early 30s, he has steered the trolley ever so gently in his own direction. Cheerfully classic and impishly proper, this is the book for those who thrill to an entire chapter on meringues (Pavlova, yes, but that pistachio-meringue roulade with strawberries and elderflower cream!), who own a trifle bowl and a pudding mold (layer the former with a striking striated panna cotta with espresso jelly, and fill the latter with a hot-pink black-currant summer pudding), and who clap in agreement when Ryall writes, “I love a well composed fruitcake.”

Chocolate cookies for a (modest) crowd, courtesy of Edd Kimber’s Small Batch Bakes.

Small Batch Bakes: Baking Cakes, Cookies, Bars and Buns for One to Six People, by Edd Kimber (Kyle Books, $22.99). Sometimes you just need one cookie. Or, O.K., four. Edd Kimber, the inaugural winner of The Great British Bake Off, knows that having dozens of a good thing can be too much, especially when you’re single or in a small family. There’s no scrimping on flavor or ideas, from matcha-cheesecake tarts to vegan crinkle cookies with tahini and cardamom, or a mini-molten-chocolate cake that gushes forth peanut butter.

The carbohydrates that dreams are made of can be found in Maurizio Leo’s The Perfect Loaf.

The Perfect Loaf: The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More, by Maurizio Leo (Clarkson Potter, $40). If Tartine Bread wasn’t intense enough for you, step into the sourdough vortex opened by Maurizio Leo. What began as a software engineer’s blog in response to Chad Robertson’s seminal book has evolved into a 432-page marvel, exploring and troubleshooting every air pocket and crumb, and offering video tutorials via QR code. Leo’s journey from amateur to wonk makes this guide more lucid than many professionally written books: he, too, started from scratch. The Perfect Loaf is both for teaching beginners to think like bakers and for those still making paindemic baguettes who want to go leagues deeper. As someone who ran a microbakery out of her upstate home during lockdown, this profoundly educational manual is so inspiring that it almost makes me wish for another wave. Almost.

Christine Muhlke, a former editor for The New York Times and Bon Appétit, is a co-author of Wine Simple, with Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm, and a co-author of Phaidon’s Signature Dishes That Matter. She is also the founder of culinary consultancy Bureau X and creator of the Xtine newsletter