“Urban Cowgirl.” By Sarah Penrod. Lone Star Books. $29.95.

Maybe it’s because my sister-in-law has dropped 20 pounds on an ultra low-carb diet that I find myself fantasizing about all things starchy. Could I follow her version of the ketogenic diet, and maybe replicate her success? Not a chance.

Bread is an essential element in my life. I love how it sops up gravy, crisps in a grilled cheese, bobs in a bowl of chowder. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my great-grandmother making her famous rolls in our kitchen during her visits. The aroma was so enticing that the neighborhood kids would follow me and my siblings home from the school bus stop to have some of Nana Perry’s rolls.

So I suppose it’s no surprise that from the scores of recipes in “Urban Cowgirl,” I pick the one labeled West Texas Butter Bread.

There were other temptations. Author Sarah Penrod, who joined the cast of “Food Network Stars” in 2014, published her first cookbook last year. In this most recent book, she writes engagingly about favorite food staples from her Texas upbringing, and graciously extends the definition of “urban cowgirl” to other women she defines as a walking contradiction. “You have a designer coffee table littered with Saveur and Bon Appetit magazines, but the recipes you hold dearest are third-generation handwritten love letters from a grandmother you may have never met.”

As you might expect, a lot of Tex-Mex and Southern dishes make an appearance, like the Ultimate Texas Chicken Fried Steak with West Texas Gravy, and Poblano Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. She includes a whole section on making food-based artisanal beauty products, and a section on traditions, like executing a proper fish fry and hosting a ladies Southern tea. For meat eaters, there’s an entire section on barbecue and a chapter titled “Taco therapy.”


And there’s a helpful how-to section, offering advice on the proper way to cut an avocado, to candy a tomato and to slice a mango “without losing your mind.”

Still, after perusing the beautifully designed and photographed pages, including many images of the Texas countryside and frolicking family members, I came back to West Texas Butter Bread.

Making it was pretty straightforward, although I had a tough time imagining what the dish was going to look like before I assembled it. Frankly, I had my doubts. Once assembled, it looked like an anemic enchilda, with four long-ish rolls floating in a pasty white sauce. The sauce was supposed to become icing. Penrod assures readers that the dish will finish properly after baking, but when I took it out of the oven, it was still pretty liquid and didn’t look like icing at all.

But the taste was heavenly. If you’ve ever tasted pinwheels made with leftover scraps of pie dough, you’ve a clue to the taste of West Texas Butter Bread. But all that butter gives it a much more luscious richness.

I had a small piece, just to sample, then went back for more.

My husband, always an enthusiastic guinea pig for whatever comes out of the oven, gave it a “9,” just a scant point away from a perfect 10. That score, undoubtedly, would be reserved for Nana Perry’s rolls.


Carol Coultas can be contacted at 791-6460 or at:

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Twitter: carolacoultas


Our reviewer used milk for the icing.

Yield: Jelly roll-style pastry that serves 4 to 6



1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup cold milk



3 tablespoons softened butter

Sugar, sprinkled liberally

Cinnamon, sprinkled liberally

Nutmeg, sprinkled liberally



2 cups milk or water

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of nutmeg and salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl or standing mixture, mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the shortening until it resembles little beads in the flour mixture. Continue kneading and pour in the milk a little at a time until the dough is stiff enough to handle. Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll out each part on a floured board until the dough is about 1/8th inch thick. Dot each part with butter and sprinkle liberally with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Roll up each piece of dough like a jelly roll.

In a glass baking dish, combine the icing ingredients and microwave until liquid. Place the jelly rolls into the icing.

Place the baking dish into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cut into serveable pieces and serve with hot coffee.

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