Big Reds Bakery serves the Lake Conroe area from a small shop adjacent to the Bentwater community. The petite, baby blue bakery has no televisions—which is by owner Geri O’Sullivan’s design.
A trained pastry chef, O’Sullivan said she wanted to create a space for familial gathering that allowed community members to talk to each other.
“To me, food is always associated with gatherings,” O’Sullivan said. “At one point I had a group of women sitting here just chatting for an hour, and just hearing them laugh, I mean, that’s just an awesome feeling to know that they’re doing that here.”
A former stay-at-home mom, O’Sullivan realized she needed to get a career when she suddenly found herself a divorced, single mom of three without an income. Driven by financial need and her love of baking, O’Sullivan studied to be a pastry chef at the Culinary Academy of Long Island, New York in 2006.
She graduated two years later and quickly became immersed in the pastry industry in New York restaurants. When O’Sullivan remarried in 2012, she and her family moved to the North Houston area and then to Willis in 2016.
She took a chance and opened the bakery Nov. 1, 2017, when a space became available on Lake Conroe.
The bakery features fresh signature pastries, muffins, scones, select breakfast items and desserts daily. Big Reds Bakery also offers a limited lunch menu on weekdays featuring deli-style dishes including signature sandwiches, soups and sides.
O’Sullivan bakes with no preservatives, she said. However, this goal affects her business in small ways in that she will not mass produce her pastries—once an item sells out for the day, it is gone.
For the Christmas season, she said she is planning eggnog cheesecake with gingersnap crust, dark chocolate brownies with peppermint bark toppings and gingerbread cake with orange cream cheese frosting.
“I love when people say that something that I made reminds them of home, of something grandma used to make or their mom used to make—that’s what’s the most rewarding part to me,” she said.
Big Reds Bakery
17156 FM 1097, Montgomery
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-1 p.m., closed Sun.-Mon.
Baking tips for beginners
With the holidays around the corner, here are some tips to remember when baking treats for the family.
- Follow the recipe: Trained pastry chef Geri O’Sullivan said baking desserts and pastries is different than cooking. Bakers must follow recipes exactly as they are written.
- Bake it more than once: With holidays around the corner, O’Sullivan recommends baking dishes at least once for practice before serving it to guests.
- Taste it before serving it: Taste the treat to make sure it came out correctly.
- Do not be afraid of failure: O’Sullivan said novice bakers—and even experienced bakers—should be prepared for failure. She suggests acknowledging when something does not come out correctly, biting your tongue and starting again.