Taylor Whittle was born to bake.
Whittle, daughter of Jef and MaryAnne Whittle of Rapid City, started small and at a young age with her kitchen exploits, making cookies from prepackaged dough, filling up a baking sheet or two, and then eating the uncooked dough, she said.
From there, taking inspiration from a great-grandmother and grandmother who were both great bakers, she went on to learn to bake cakes from scratch.
“I’ve always have a sweet tooth — always,” she said.
At first, Whittle never considered baking as a career. But around the time she graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School in 2015, she decided to attend the Auguste Escoffia School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colo.
Whittle honed her skills in the school’s pastry arts program, then gained more experience working at a bakery in Colorado for a year, she said.
But she missed the Black Hills. Desiring a return to Rapid City and with few available jobs for an aspiring baker, she and her parents decided to open Sweet Secrets Bakery at 2101 Mount Rushmore Road in mid-November.
“I’m a big family person, and I had no place to work if I moved back, so we decided to make a place for me to work,” she said.
Her parents handle the business side, while Taylor takes care of the baking. They also employ a morning baker and morning and evening cashiers.
Sweet Secrets seem an appropriate name for the new bakery.
Whittle said while her parents were well aware of her talents with a mixing bowl and oven, others outside of the family may not have known, she said.
“I didn’t really share it with anybody else. I was kind of selfish that way,” she said. “It was all gone before I could share it, because I would always eat the whole thing.”
Now the secret is out with her wide variety of cakes, cookies and other desserts. The bakery doesn’t really have a specialty, but Whittle said she is proud of her French macaroons, no-bake cheesecakes and a wide variety of flavored cupcakes.
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“We like to mix it up and be spontaneous,” she said.
They also offer breakfast muffins, other pastries and Dark Canyon Coffee for the morning crowd, she said.
Word got out pretty quickly after the bakery opened on Nov. 18. Whittle was soon swamped with orders for the holiday season.
“The holidays were great. We were so busy. I was booked, and I couldn’t take any more orders a couple weeks before Christmas,” she said.
Now she is gearing up for mid-winter and spring, looking forward to big sports weekends, celebrations, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Mostly she is glad to be doing something she loves near friends and family. Whittle enjoyed her time going to school in Colorado, but the pull of family and the Black Hills was strong, she said.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “but home is home.”
Sweet Secrets joins Major Mortgage and Casey J. Davis, agent for American National Insurance, as tenants in the newly remodeled Rushmore Square building on Mount Rushmore Road.
The 7,700 square foot building struggled for more than a decade to support several single-entity iterations as a sports bar, pizzeria and barbecue joint before being purchased last year by Scott Mueller and converted to a multiplex office and retail space.
Restaurants move, change
Himalayan Kitchen, featuring the cuisine of India and Nepal, is announced via temporary signage as “coming soon” to 1720 Mount Rushmore Road, formerly the location of Hunan Restaurant.
Hunan’s, known both for its buffet and interior décor featuring the fine art photography of owner Robert Wong, closed prior to the beginning of the second phase of the Mount Rushmore Road reconstruction project.
Elsewhere, a newly completed Hardee’s Restaurant at the intersection of East North Street and Cambell Street is open and advertising for new employees, according to the electronic marquee out front.
The new restaurant, built on the former site of a razed building housing both a second-hand store and oriental restaurant, replaces the Hardee’s located just to the west and across East North Street in the Northgate Shopping Center parking lot.
Contact Jim Holland at 605-394-8429 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.