Few things are sweeter than bakeries…literally. Freshly-baked treats appeal to people of all ages and offer bakers an opportunity to get creative with both flavor combinations and decorations. From one-bite macarons to three-tier cakes, there is an abundance of bakeries throughout the Black Hills, serving locals and tourists alike sweet (and sometimes savory) treats.
Baker’s Bakery & Cafe
When Cherish Baker opened her bakery on Mt. Rushmore Road in Custer in 2006, “the only thing ‘baker’ about me was my last name,” she jokes. This California transplant was more of a restaurant person, but she challenged herself to learn all about baking, scouting the internet for bread recipes. Her secret? Fresh dough. Cherish and her employees—most are family members—mix all their dough and bake fresh bread onsite, something that nobody else in the area does. It’s inspired their tongue-in-cheek slogan, “You’ll love our buns!” This commitment to fresh, handmade ingredients has won raves from locals and tourists alike, who flock to the bakery for donuts, cinnamon and caramel rolls, and other baked goods. They are more than just a bakery, however; they serve full breakfasts and lunches, and were even recognized by Rachael Ray’s EveryDay magazine in 2014, who named her green chile burrito “South Dakota’s Best Breakfast” in their Breakfast Across America series.
Like many Black Hills businesses, Baker’s Bakery operates seasonally. They open at the end of March and close in October, catering mainly to local snowbirds and tourists, though South Dakota governor Kristi Noem and her husband are frequent guests. Cherish’s favorite thing about the Black Hills is the slower pace of life.
541 Mt Rushmore Rd., Custer, SD 57730, (605) 673-2253
Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily (seasonal)
Brenden Berger and Erica Reiter both had a passion for the food industry, but not necessarily the baking field. Once they purchased Star Spangled Batter in 2017, they fell in love with making sweets. Brenden says it was seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they walked through the door that did it for him. The couple, who are engaged to be married this summer, inherited the name of their bake shop, but changed up the theme to make it more patriotic when they moved to a new location on Jackson Boulevard. Cupcakes are by far their #1 seller, though they do offer plenty of other sweet treats including donuts, cinnamon rolls, dessert bars, and cakes. During busy periods—graduation season in May, for example—it isn’t unusual for customers to walk in and ask for 400 cupcakes, sometimes with just a few day’s notice. That’s a lot of work for the couple, who run the store on their own, but they relish making customers happy even if it means working extra hours. They are also involved in a lot of weddings and say people are moving away from traditional tiered wedding cakes in favor of smaller cake and cupcake sets. Lemon and chocolate are their most popular flavors, and fresh fruit is trending.
Erica is a newcomer to the Black Hills, moving here a few years ago after growing up in Sioux Falls; she loves the beauty of the landscape and the snow. Brenden has lived here most of his life and knows the area inside and out.
2130 Jackson Blvd #2, Rapid City, SD 57702, (605) 209-1491
Hours: Tues – Fri: 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sat: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Pistachio Pie Bakery
After Lauren Moir studied pastry and baking at Seattle’s esteemed Le Cordon Bleu, she was eager to pursue her baking passion but found precious few opportunities in Rapid City aside from big box retailers and chain restaurants. Knowing she wouldn’t be content working in that type of setting, she decided instead to open her own shop in 2017. Inspired by her grandmother, she focused on pies, developing a flaky, buttery crust and making everything by hand using fresh ingredients. That commitment to quality ingredients quickly won her a following. While her namesake pistachio pie is most popular, she has since branched out, adding cookies, cupcakes, lemon bars, brownies, and macarons to the menu. The latter have become a big hit; Lauren offers twelve different flavors and usually sells out, with some customers buying dozens at a time. She is continuing to experiment with her menu, adding unique items like a Napoleon made with her signature pie crust rather than the traditional puff pastry, and a macaron cake made with stacked macarons.
Pistachio Pie tends to attract middle-aged customers, but as word of her macarons has gotten out, even high school kids are stopping by for an after-school treat. Lauren’s favorite thing about the Black Hills is the weather. She is not averse to the cold and believes the scenery of the Black Hills more than makes up for the occasional bouts of snow.
4118 Jackson Blvd., Rapid City, SD 57702, (605) 388-2051
Hours: Tues – Fri: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat – Sun: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Jerry’s Cakes & Donuts
Jerry’s Cakes & Donuts has been a Rapid City institution for over 30 years. It isn’t easy to keep any business running for so long, especially in the food industry, but owner Jerry Schubert and his wife, Lee Ann, have bucked the odds. They have actually been frying up donuts in Rapid City even longer than that, originally working for a national franchise before deciding to open their own shop in 1989. The location has changed a few times since, but their commitment to fresh donuts and cakes has never wavered—and that has won over generations of customers. Aided by their son Jeremy, this is a true family business. They are, of course, best known for their donuts; popular flavors include glazed, sour cream, chocolate raised, and bacon long johns. Jerry likes to have fun with themed donuts; Shark Week, superhero day and pirates day have been recent successes. They also do cakes, which are popular for graduations and weddings—though donut walls are a new trend for couples getting married.
Jerry’s attracts a wide range of customers, from older regulars who enjoy sitting around playing cards to tourists, many of whom ask for photos with the owner once they learn there really is a Jerry behind the name. The Schuberts say their favorite part about living in the Black Hills is the friendly, laid-back people they encounter on a daily basis.
109 E Omaha St., Rapid City, SD 57701, (605) 341-4814Hours: Mon-Fri: 5 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sat-Sun: 5 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Sweet Secrets Bakery
Even as a child, Taylor Whittle loved baking—so much so that she enrolled in the Auguste Escoffia School of Culinary Arts in Boulder after graduating from high school. As fond as she was of Colorado, it lacked something important: family. Taylor moved back to Rapid City but found few opportunities for work, so she decided to open her own bakery. With the help of her parents, Sweet Secrets opened in 2017 and quickly gained a following as customers discovered her no-bake cheesecake, a three-cheese Italian cake made with cream cheese, ricotta, and mascarpone. This best-seller is light and creamy in contrast to the denser, cakier texture common to New York-style cheesecakes. Other popular items include a lemon almond ricotta cake and fresh-baked French macarons. Between graduations and weddings, Sweet Secrets sees a steady influx of customers throughout the year. It doesn’t hurt that the bakery’s location on busy Mount Rushmore Road is highly visible to tourists during the summer months.
Taylor has no regrets about returning to her beloved Black Hills. Most of the people she grew up with, including family and friends, are still living here.
2101 Mt Rushmore Rd #100, Rapid City, SD 57701, (605) 791-2253
Hours: Mon-Sat: 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Bobkat’s Old Fashion Purple Pie Place
After Bob Yehle’s daughter Cherish moved to South Dakota to open a bakery in Custer, he longed to spend more time with her and his grandkids; when he learned that the distinctive Purple Pie Place, located just a few blocks from her business (Baker’s Bakery), was for sale, he and wife Kathie decided to follow suit and open a bakery of their own. Rebranded to include a mashup of their names, they opened in 2010 and quickly developed a cult following, churning out 100-150 pies every day to keep up with demand. Customers from all over the world stop by after visiting Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse for a slice of Bumbleberry (a combination of rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples), Raspberry Rhubarb Jalapeño, or another flavor—there are a dozen different homemade varieties available every day between May and September. In 2019, People magazine named the Purple Pie Place the “Best Pie in South Dakota.” In addition to pies, they offer ice cream, paninis, soup, salads, and sandwiches.
While Bob and Kathie return to California every winter, they love the Black Hills, naming its business-friendly climate and wonderful customers from all over as big draws.
19 Mt Rushmore Rd, Custer, SD 57730, (605) 673-4070
Hours: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily (May, September); 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily (June-August)
8th Avenue Bakery
Aaron and Tina Neiman are no strangers to the baking business. They own four cafes around the Hills, and converted their basement into a certified kitchen to provide their burgeoning empire with scratch-made baked goods. When a new property next to their home in Belle Fourche became available in 2016, they decided to go all in, renovating the building, adding equipment, and launching an official bakery. Today, 8th Avenue Bakery has a loyal following of its own, regulars who come in for the homemade Pop Tarts, donuts, Paleo bread, and other baked goods. Bacon maple bars have been especially popular lately. In addition, they continue to supply their cafes with items baked on the premises. They’ve even dedicated one day of the week to making butter crusts for their Pop Tarts, hand pies, and galettes. In addition to their own sweet creations, they pay homage to others through a peanut butter frosted cinnamon roll that was a staple of another now-closed Belle Fourche bakery, and a family recipe passed down through the generations.
Aaron is originally from Hulett, Wyoming; Tina is a Rapid City native. They love the many outdoor opportunities the Black Hills provide, such as hiking, camping, and skiing.
704 8th Ave., Belle Fourche, SD 57717, (605) 723-1624
Hours: Thurs.-Sat.: 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.