The Best Little From-Scratch Bakery in Texas
The pastry case in Rebecca Rather's bakery in Fredericksburg is packed with ultra-buttery scones, luscious cakes, cookies the size of saucers, brownies as big as bricks, and fruit pies that look as though they came straight out of Grandma's oven. Since the day Rebecca and her Rather Sweet Bakery and Café came to town, life in this Hill Country hamlet has been even sweeter and the townsfolk now know why she is the Pastry Queen. Everything she makes is a lot like her: down-home yet grand, and familiar yet one-of-a-kind.
A native Texan, Rather makes the most of her Lone Star state's varied traditions, whether looking to the kitchens of Texas's Mexican and German immigrants or to the cowboy culture of her own forebears. Best of all, her recipes aren't fussy—one of her best-selling cakes stirs together in a single saucepan. Add in a cupful of Texas attitude and her made-from-scratch-with-love philosophy, and you've got an irresistible taste of American baking.
What's best at Rather Sweet? Rebecca's customers all have their favorites (and she is happy to cater to their cravings), but here's just a taste of the perennial best sellers:
• Apple-Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scones
• Texas Big Hairs Lemon-Lime Tarts (the only big hair Rebecca has ever had!)
• Fourth of July Fried Pies
• Peach Queen Cake with Dulce de Leche Frosting
• Turbo-Charged Brownies with Praline Topping
• All-Sold-Out Chicken Pot Pies
• Kolaches (pillowy yeasted buns with sweet or savory fillings)
• PB&J Cookies
With over 125 surefire tested recipes and 100 photographs that richly capture small-town life in the Hill Country, The Pastry Queen offers a Texas-size serving of the royal splendor of Rebecca's baked goods—courtesy of the rather sweet gal behind the case.
This cookbook offers recipes for dozens of classic treats like oatmeal cookies, carrot cake and pecan pie--but often with novel twists: pineapple and coconut swirl through the carrot cake, the pecan pie takes the form of a brownie and the oatmeal cookies are fashioned into "crisps." Still, most of the recipes are pleasingly old-fashioned and sweet enough to send an unsuspecting baker into diabetic shock. The Grasshopper Pie calls for an entire cup of sugar, plus marshmallow creme and hot fudge sauce, and the Bananas Foster Shortcakes deliver sugary banana flavor amped up to maximum volume. The author is the proprietress of The Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in Texas, and she offers several signature Lone Star state desserts: a rich Fredericksburg Peach Cream Cheese Tart, crunchy Texas Pralines and Texas Big Hairs Lemon-Lime Meringue Tarts, with meringue piled as high as a Houston debutante's coif. The cookbook also offers a few non-dessert selections, mostly soups, salads, quesadillas and the like. Though these dishes are tasty--it's hard to object to Prosciutto Tostadas with Shrimp and Parsley or a warm, pleasing Wild Mushroom Soup--it's the sugary-sweet and fun-to-bake Texas-style desserts that make this rather sweet, and rather expensive, cookbook worth the splurge.