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It would be fair to say that guilt is the order of the day at the newly opened Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop. There is the guilt that comes with bombing the human anatomy with the sugar, as in cupcakes, for instance. But then, there is the guilt that Whisk, for just a moment, manages to purge – the everyday American guilt of contributing to a landfill; of supporting unfair labor practices; of trucking in non-local, big-corporation food, more apt to be loaded with preservatives and pesticides, and so on.
Whisk represents the desires of young couple Kaylen and Pete Wissinger (left) to give us area eaters the happy glow that comes as quality baked goods pass into our maws, along with a practical demonstration of what it means to try to your best to be kind to the planet.
The bakery inhabits the former Shangri-La Diner in the heart of the Cherokee Street antiques district. The Wissingers live upstairs from the bakery, which is a blessed convenience, especially for bakers, who rise before dawn.
On their first day of business last weekend, they offered a creative line-up of vegan pumpkin-chocolate brownies; apple-cinnamon “pop tartlets” (a superior version of Pop-Tarts, below left); moist pumpkin cake balls enrobed in chocolate; pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting; zucchini spice cupcakes; sweet potato cupcakes with marshmallow icing; vegan peanut butter-chocolate cupcakes; scones in apple-cheddar and maple-oat flavors; vegan gingerbread cookies; chewy peppermint white-chocolate cookies; chewy chocolate-chip/bacon/sea salt cookies (below right) with a hit of salty bacon in every bite; gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake; and more.
Not unlike her peer at the dynamically tasty Pint Size Bakery, Kaylen knows what she’s doing. From the cupcakes with a heavenly, soft cream-cheese icing to the slightly sour, yielding dough of the scones to the cookies begging to be re-inserted into an oven to make them as delightful as they must have been when they popped out, warm and magical, nearly everything here is special. It is so nice to see a first-time entrepreneur killing it from the get-go. And nothing, Kaylen is happy to tell you, is baked from a pre-made mix.
Whisk is also offering some of the exotic popsicles (right) that were such a hit at last season’s Tower Grove Farmers’ Market (back when the Wissingers’ enterprise was known as Farm Fresh Cupcakes).
Kaylen said that the types of baked goods will change constantly, based on the availability of seasonal ingredients. “In the summer,” she said, “I'll be creating peaches and cream scones or strawberry scones, et cetera.” Other treats on the more immediate, winter menu include vegan snickerdoodles; maple-oat, apple-cheddar, raspberry white chocolate, blueberry, and banana-chocolate chip scones; blueberry, gingerbread, and vegan banana-nut muffins; hot chocolate/marshmallow and sweet potato/salted caramel cakes; pumpkin-bourbon-pecan, caramel-apple, and chocolate cream pies; eggnog, Nutella, brown-sugar cinnamon, and S'mores “pop tartlets”; and house-made improvements on Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers, graham crackers, and marshmallows.
Gourmet cupcakes, which Kaylen has been selling for some time via her Farm Fresh Cupcakes operation, come in some three dozen flavors, including strawberry-buttermilk, “purple velvet,” eggnog, peppermint-chocolate, chocolate- beet, maple bacon, banana-Nutella, chocolate stout, honey-vanilla, chocolate mint, peanut butter & jelly, carrot cake, vegan Mexican hot chocolate, and vegan apple cider.
(You can also still buy the Wissingers’ cake balls on the dessert menu at Green Bean, and their other baked goods at Tower Grove’s Local Harvest Grocery and come spring, back at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market.)
The charming interior of the bakery (below) features light fixtures the couple fabricated from antique, oversized whisks (naturally). That’s emblematic of Whisk’s let’s-see-about-treating-the-planet-with-a-modicum-of-reason attitude.
“During the construction process, we used as many reclaimed materials as possible,” said Kaylen. “For example, wood we tore away from the old counter was reused as shelving in the basement. We made a table from old yardsticks (below), used all zero-VOC paints, installed a high-efficiency hand dryer in the customer bathroom, use 100% recycled paper products -- and many of them are compostable -- and we are in the process of building a compost pile in our backyard, for our neighbors to also use. St. Louis City residents can come get compost for their gardens, too. In the future, as we get more into the black, we'll be installing occupancy sensors in bathrooms and closets, using more recycled materials and compostable materials, et cetera.”
The feelgood vibe continues on the chalkboard menu (below), where you can see the retail prices, which are decidedly not exorbitant.
Whisk was created thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, and Kaylen and Pete want to give back. One of the ways they’ll do that, says Kaylen, is via a tip jar earmarked for local charities, starting with the St. Patrick’s Center, where Whisk got its start in a business-incubator kitchen.
The bakery represents another step in the continuing introduction of fun businesses to the Cherokee Street neighborhood. From the Mud House to Black Bear Bakery to Red Guitar Bread, the strip continues to develop cool cafes and bakeries. Long may their ovens run.
Whisk: A Sustainable Bakery
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Wed-Fri, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sat-Sun