Cakespy: What made you want to open a cupcake shop?
Jill Segal: I was reading an article in TIME Magazine, August 2006, at my dentist's office and the article was about the success of Magnolia Bakery in NY because of Sarah Jessica Parker and Sprinkles in LA [because of] Oprah featuring them. I was SO excited [about] a cupcake shop in St. Louis! I asked the receptionist to make a copy and she gave me the magazine. At the time, my career had been in advertising, so I ran back home (not really) to pull of research on bakeries, coffee houses....That gave me the initial idea.
CS: How has the experience of owning a cupcake bakery been different than you might have anticipated?
JS: I had contacted Elizabeth Faulkner from Citizen Cupcake in San Francisco and she told me it was really hard. She was SO right! Trying to find pastry bakers and designers with AMAZING skills was and has been a long journey. But I can say that we've had our moments, but believe now that our cupcakes are the most moist, decedent, delicious cupcakes found anywhere!
CS: In your opinion, what makes a cupcake life-altering?
JS: The best ingredients, for caramel we only use Dulche de Leche, it is a Spanish caramel that is milkier (is that a word?) plus creamier and softer, our Carmelita is......first you'll moan, and then....Also, our cake is sooooooo moist, our "stuffing"--whatever we stuff inside--they're past decedent, they are life-altering.....our fudge ganache, the way we whip and whip and whip our butter cream until it's like soft clouds of love in your mouth.
CS: We see mention of a "topping bar" on your site. How does the topping bar work?
JS: The clients can choose from baby junior mints, to health bar...it's set up in a "Bar" container (like the ones at a "Bar" that holds olives, lemon twists,...cute huh.)
CS: It seems like there must be a story behind the "cupcake clusters" on your menu--can you tell us how they came to be?
JS: We bake everyday, so at the end of the day if we have extra cakes we bake them to a crouton....you know the rest!
CS: What's your favorite item on the menu?
JS: The Carmelita! We also did a seasonal cupcake that I crave...vanilla cake, stuffed with a pumpkin mousse and topped off with chocolate & pumpkin buttercream! OMG!
CS: You're based in St. Louis, Missouri. We're keenly interested in regional specialties--what are some regional specialties in your area?
JS: Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis thing...
Cakespy Note: What exactly is a Gooey Butter Cake? According to Wikipedia,
Gooey butter cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri, with a bottom layer of buttery yellow cake and a top layer of either egg and cream cheese, or butter and sugar. It is generally served as a type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake. It is believed to have originated around 1943.
A legend about the cake's origin is included in Saint Louis Days, Saint Louis Nights, a cookbook published in the mid-1990s by the Junior League of St. Louis. The cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of sugar and flour.
CS: Some say that "pie is the new cake". What is your response to this bold statement?
JS: We had baby pies that we sold and did great. I don't think it's the new cake, but a preference for certain people...
CS: What's next for Jilly's Cupcake Bar?