Where he comes from, dinner was what you raced through to get to dessert.

Meet J.R. Brown, proud citizen of Camden, Arkansas, where even the gossip is served with a slice of cake. Tugging at the apron strings of a long line of sassy, classy women, J.R. paid attention to every whir of the Sunbeam, every stroke of the spatula. Now, he translates those hometown desserts into modern-day must-haves — from big, fluffy cakes to the richest buttermilk pie on the planet to oatmeal-toffee cookies that will roll your eyes back.

Twice.

J.R. bakes each and every confection from scratch, using pure ingredients and vintage tools and techniques — from recipes that his grandmother perfected with her pencil, scratching out suggested quantities and ingredients and going the only way she knew how: hers.

Don’t let J.R.’s appearance fool you: Behind that hunky exterior is a feisty southern charmer, wisecracks, wisdom, all of it.

For birthdays, for gatherings, for that three-o’clock craving: If it takes magic to make it, J.R. Bakes it.

Portraits by Adam Fish www.fishfotography.com