Special privileges are bestowed upon the regulars of Rather Sweet Bakery and Café, in Fredericksburg: If someone is short on cash, he is welcome to simply tape the bill onto the refrigerator and pay later; other customers feel so at home that they place some of their own items in the kitchen for personal use. With The Pastry Queen Christmas (due out in October), Rebecca Rather welcomes her readers as warmly as she does her regulars.

Rather, who believes that the whole point of baking is “to get your hands in the dough,” gladly includes the recipes of family and friends in this book so as to truly capture the holiday spirit. She draws upon old family favorites, such as her Grandma Wyche’s Gingerbread and her mother’s Coconut Snowballs, but also adds recipes of her own, those of her friends’, and even restaurants that are willing to divulge their secrets. And what would a Christmas cookbook be without instructions for edible ornaments and an entire section dedicated to home-baked gifts? The Pastry Queen Christmas, rife with anecdotes and filled to the brim with true holiday comfort food (Chocolate Cookie-Crusted Eggnog Cheesecake, anyone?) is a wonderfully crafted cookbook that makes holiday cooking seem not only manageable, but also a pleasure. Chapters are themed—Holiday Open House, Ranch Barn Brunch, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve—and provide readers with menu options. The downside? This cookbook succeeds in making the wait for the holidays seem that much longer. Here’s a sampling of recipes:

Old-Fashioned Eggnog

Sweet Potato Scones With Maple Cream Drizzle

Green Chile and Cheddar Baking Powder Biscuits

King-Sized Key Lime Pie With Macadamia Nut Crust

Junior Mint Brownies

Brown Sugar Bacon

Zucchini Timbales

Apple Dumplings

Grandma’s Sugar Cookies

Butter Meringue Nuts

Texas Spice-Rubbed Roast Pork

Shrimp ‘n’ Grits

Good-Luck Truffles