The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafeby Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman
Ten Speed Press, 240 pp., $29.95
As a culinary student pursuing the pastry arts, I keep my eye out for any new books about baking. This book by former Austin pastry chef Rebecca Rather has gotten so much local, regional, and national promotion, I couldn't help but pay attention. Once I read about Rather's charming shop in Fredericksburg, I thought to myself, "This woman has my dream life!" Reading about Rebecca's business and baking with her recipes, I got a real sense of her honesty; it was almost like talking to an old friend. If she says something tastes good, I'm buying what she's selling. First off, I tried one of her staple recipes, Apple Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scones. I've made these three times now and will certainly make them again. The recipe was easy to follow, and the scones came out great: They were loved by everyone who got hold of one. A co-worker chose a more complicated recipe, the Pumpkin Caramel Roll, and it was also a winner. Even though it had four different components and a long list of ingredients, the steps were well-explained and the finished product was a wonderful holiday dessert. The book is written with the novice home baker in mind, although I'd have to say many of us probably don't have stand mixers as part of our regular kitchen equipment. I only have one suggestion that I think would make the book perfect: more photos of the food. Pictures inspire readers to make things and give us an idea of what we're shooting for. Many of the pictures in this book are of Rather's family, friends, and customers enjoying the bakery. Laurie Smith's photographs capture the friendly feel of the place and communicate that to the reader. After seeing them, I can't wait to visit the bakery myself. However, I'd prefer to know what the finished Mars Pies were supposed to look like instead.
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