Tucked away amid the rolling plains west of Laramie, a little red house filled with the aroma of pies baking in the oven as Jennifer Small flitted about the kitchen in a white cap and matching apron.
Outside, a mottled dog chased rabbits across the empty landscape, and travelers made their way to and from Snowy Range along Wyoming Highway 130.
The occasional curious and hungry visitor is lured by the white and blue “Bakery” signs posted alongside the highway, and follows them down Herrick Lane to discover the little red house is in fact Golden Prairie Bakery.
“I only post my hours as 10 (a.m.)-6 (p.m.) Fridays and Saturdays,” Small said, prepping a tub of caraway rye for the weekend. “But people tend to trickle in throughout the week, either picking up special orders or just checking the place out.”
With the help of one part-time employee and an apprentice, Small said she works through the week to prep the artisan breads, cakes and assorted treats she sells Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s been my dream to have a bakery for most of my life,” Small said. “I grew up in a country inn. My whole family worked and lived at the inn. My father was a chef trained in the old-school apprentice ways at the Ritz-Carlton and Hilton (Garden Inn) in Boston.”
After attending college and grad school, Small worked her way west before settling with her husband in Colorado. She worked as a pastry chef at Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado, and as a dietician in Estes Park, Colorado, but when the town was devastated by a massive flood in 2013, the couple decided it was time to do something different.
“My husband had a good job up here in Wyoming, and I was living in Estes, (Colorado), so we really only got to see each other on the weekends,” Small said. “When the flood hit, it hit home that you don’t know how long you have in this life.”
Small and her husband started looking at land to purchase in Albany County for their home, and a location in Laramie for the bakery. But after a lengthy search, she said they decided to simply combine the two.
“This is actually the first part of our house,” Small explained. “We spent two-and-a-half years of working other jobs and coming up here at night to build our dream.”
It was a tedious process full of learning building codes, investing in infrastructure suitable for both home and business and working through cold nights with little more than a space heater to stave off the Laramie Valley’s frigid temperatures. But, after years of planning and work, Small said they opened the bakery in October.
“The community response has been overwhelming,” she said. “We had no idea there was such growth potential.”
For some, it might seem odd to travel a few miles out of town for a loaf of bread or a handful of chocolate truffles, but Small said destination bakeries are one of her favorite ways to experience local culture.
“This is a destination bakery, but with so many people traveling to the Snowies every weekend, it’s not really out of the way,” she said.
As the business grows, Small said she hopes to hire more employees and eventually open the bakery more days of the week and possibly participate in the farmers’ markets. But for now, she said she stills working out the menu.
“My homemade meatballs in sauce on Italian torpedo rolls have gotten so popular that I’m making them all the time,” Small said. “So I’m trying to keep that as mainstay while offering another sandwich each weekend.”
Golden Prairie Bakery is located at 26 BWJ Road, or just off Herrick Lane about 5 miles west of Laramie. The bakery is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Small and her husband occasionally put out signs along the road as a guide for new customers.
Call 343-0374 for special orders or more information about the bakery.