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Waukee bakery prides itself in gluten, dairy-free products

Michelle Holtz, owner of Sweet Rewards Bakery in Waukee, serves only gluten and dairy-free items.Buy Photo
Michelle Holtz, owner of Sweet Rewards Bakery in Waukee, serves only gluten and dairy-free items.

Michelle Holtz has always had a passion for baking, even as a young child. She says she grew up with a grandmother who was always baking. She even remembers her first baking experience.

“I was watching a children’s show on PBS when I was roughly eight years old,” Holtz recalled. “They would make a recipe each day. “I learned how to make ‘No Bake Cookies.’ I made them that afternoon for my Aunt Denise. She still loves them to this day.”

Holtz stated she has “always loved baking for as long as (she) can remember.” And that includes everything.

“It’s really hard to say I have a favorite,” Holtz said. “I like making everything we offer.”

Who is the ‘we’ she is referring to? Sweet Rewards bakery in Waukee, the business Holtz recently opened. And what are the ‘sweet’ rewards? Everything offered in the bakery is gluten- and dairy-free.

“My husband is not able to have (gluten or dairy), so I had to figure out how to make things that he could eat,” Holtz said.

The process of transferring all of her favorite recipes to exclude gluten and dairy was no easy task.

“I have taken recipes that I have had for years and tried different gluten-free flours,” Holtz said. “I found the ones that I think are closest to actual traditional flour and started flipping (the recipes).”

Holtz always wanted to own a bakery since she was a little girl, but she never thought she would actually have one.

“My husband was the real push for me to do this,” she stated. “He loved what I made and wanted me to give it a shot, so I did. I went to a lot of events and did a lot of sampling. Then it just took off.”

And it’s been nothing but successful ever since.

Holtz loves “meeting all the people that have come in.” She enjoys visiting with them and seeing their excitement for the fresh bakery items.

She’s learned a lot from owning her own business, including the need to listen to customers and to be flexible and understanding. But there’s one thing she wasn’t expecting to learn that has been the most touching.

“You will have mothers that come in and start crying when they get to buy their child a fresh bakery item for the first time,” she said. “That was tough the first time that happened.”

What sweet things does the future hold for Sweet Rewards?

“We take it one day at a time,” Holtz said. “We obviously hope that the bakery continues to grow in its customer base, and it would be great to one day have another location. But for now, it’s one day at a time. “If it’s meant to be bigger, it will happen, but it’s all in God’s time. Not mine. I have learned that along the way. When it’s right, it will happen.”

Sweet Rewards is located at 85 NE Dartmoor Drive in Waukee and can be contacted at 515-493-8328 or info@sweetrewardsbakery.com.

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