Owensboro is a little sweeter these days thanks to Southern Secrets Pastries and Desserts, a bakery run by 16-year-old Mackenzie Mahlinger and her 21-year-old sister Taylor.
The pair bake through the night on Fridays to offer the freshest treats they can at the Saturday Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market, and they also take orders for their goods. The project started as a way to help pay for Taylor’s college and now they’re in their third season of sales.
Mackenzie is the primary baker, cooking up pies, tarts, cakes and more, and Taylor runs the marketing end.
“I’ve always loved baking,” said Mackenzie, who took an online baking course from the Culinary Institute of America at just 14. “I wanted to sell at the Farmers’ Market and to bring something that the market didn’t have when we started. There are others there now but we were the only ones.”
The sisters use only locally sourced ingredients — some as local as the blueberries they grow themselves. And they make good use of them in their best-selling lemon blueberry mini-bunts. For other ingredients like cream and eggs, they turn to other vendors at the market.
“There’s a good community among the vendors,” Mackenzie said. “We’re like a family, all supporting each other.”
This season, the sisters are offering new items with fresh fruit. And, in addition to their mini-bundts, they’ve started selling full-sized cakes that can serve a family.
“Lots of our baked goods are bought for gifts, so we’ve been trying to offer larger sizes,” Taylor said.
Other new items include strawberry shortcakes with a vanilla drizzle and old fashioned butter pound cake they suggest shoppers pair with fresh fruit from the market. They’re also paying homage to Kentucky with some bourbon-themed items like bourbon chocolate fudge bundts and bourbon fudge brownies.
Something sure to delight health-conscious market shoppers is their selection of gluten-free and sugar-free items. They’re working to expand that line this season, but always have gluten and sugar-free options at the market, including cookies and banana bread.
“We’ve always been customers of the market, so it’s cool to see the other side as a vendor,” Taylor said.
They will have their booth at the market through late October, but that won’t be the end of their season.
“Christmas and Thanksgiving are big times of year, too,” Taylor said. “We take orders when people call us.”
With a license to operate from their home, the sisters can bake throughout the year.
“We strive to make our customers happy,” said Mackenzie. “We’re really into customer satisfaction.”