Joco Diversions

Dolce Bakery enjoys the sweet smell of success

Last month, Dolce Bakery relocated to a larger space in the Prairie Village Shops.

Dolce’s customers had no problem finding the newly expanded bakery, 3930 W. 69th Terrace. They just followed the smell of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

On a recent Saturday, “we made 23 dozen,” says owner Erin Brown, “and they sold out.”

Since Brown opened Dolce six years ago, her cinnamon rolls — made with Brown’s aunt’s recipe and rolled fresh every morning — have inspired a cult-like following. The cinnamon rolls sell out most mornings, but there’s much more on the mouthwatering menu: Cupcakes, cookies, scones and seasonal sweets such as pumpkin whoopie pies and pecan bars.

Brown, a baker since the age of 7, is a stickler for quality.

“We don’t take any shortcuts,” she says.

Her signature cranberry-orange scones get their sunny citrus flavor from whole, pureed oranges. The moist pumpkin spice cupcakes are topped with Dolce’s signature icing, a cream cheese-buttercream hybrid that’s sweet, but not too sweet. A drizzle of salted caramel and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt flakes top off the irresistable autumn-inspired cupcakes.

The new-and-improved Dolce Bakery has seating for 30, if you include the patio (the former space had just six seats). Polished concrete floors and filament bulb light fixtures lend a utilitarian vibe. Buttery walls, a farm table and reclaimed wood accents by Randy Taylor of

RWT Design and Fabrication

add homey warmth.

“I wanted customers to feel like they were in my kitchen,” Brown says.

Brown worked as a pastry chef for restaurants, a catering company and the gourmet grocery store Dean DeLuca before opening Dolce in 2007. The entrepreneur says owning a bakery hasn’t spoiled her passion for baking.

When I called Brown on a recent Friday afternoon, she had just finished baking chocolate chip cookies with her daughter.

“We put potato chips in them,” Brown said, adding that next time, she wants to try adding chopped-up pretzels. Brown considers her at-home experiments research and development. She also considers them fun — because baking is still her dream job.

“It’s a lot of crazy work,” she says, “but honestly, I was built for this.”