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Wednesday
Aug132008

Batter Chatter: Interview with Jill Segal of Jilly's Cupcake Bar of St. Louis

Cupcakes from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. Louis MO
Did you know that the St. Louis arch is just as wide as it is tall? Funny how you never hear anyone saying "look at how wide that arch is!".

But we digress. As amazed as we are by the architecture, we'd be lying if we said we weren't more curious about the cake scene in St. Louis. Recently, we got a chance to catch up with Jill Segal, the proprietress of Jilly's Cupcake Bar, a fashionable cupcakery and bakery in the city where it's "all within reach"--here's what we learned:

 

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!

Cupcakes from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. Louis MO
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.

(Cakespy Note: Is anybody else thinking of that "I'll have what she's having" moment from When Harry Met Sally right now?)

 

Cupcakes from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. Louis MO
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!

Custom Cake with Cupcakes on top from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. LouisCS: 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.

 

Cupcake from Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. Louis MOCS: 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?
JS: Franchising...

Are you in St. Louis? Why not visit and try them for yourself? Jilly's Cupcake Bar, 8509 Delmar Blvd. (Delmar @ I-170), St. Louis, MO; (314) 993-Jilly (5455). Hours of operation: Mon-Fri., 10 a.m. - 7 p.m; Saturday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

If you're not in St. Louis, don't despair--online ordering will be available soon; in the meantime you can ogle the menu and pictures online at jillyscupcakebar.com.

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I asked the live receptionist to make a copy and she gave me the magazine.

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Reader Comments (22)

My parents live in St Louis and I cannot believe they haven't taken me to Jilly's! Can't wait to go home for Christmas now :)

If they had a gooey butter cake cupcake, I think I'd be in heaven.

August 13 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

i have tasted them firsthand! :) I work maybe 4-5 miles from there. We heart jilly's at work!!!I introduced my co-workers, and when it first opened we were there quite often. they have delish food too!

My favorite is the PB and Jilly! Heaven in a box is what we call it!

August 13 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I just took mt daughter there for her 6th bday on Monday. Very very yummy. And huge!! The cupcakes are huge.

August 13 | Unregistered CommenterNance

I dream about cupcakes now, after reading all of these fantastic interviews and seeing the tantalizing photographs of cupcakes :0)

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

Those are some good lookin' cupcakes!

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterRural Vegan

a topping bar for cupcakes is a great idea, and i'm surprised more bakeries haven't started something like that.
oh, and i totally had a "when harry met sally" moment when she was describing that dulce de leche... :)

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

I love how she came about the business! A magazine in the waitingroom. Awesome.

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterEB

i like the "topping bar" concept... and yes, i'll have what she's having for sure!

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterAran

Holy. I was this close to St. Louis while on vacation recently. I wish I'd have known about Jilly's. I think I'll cry.

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterMarysol

This was so cute, I just had to pass it on!

http://designismine.blogspot.com/2008/08/dress-like-cupcake.html

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Awesome cupcakes and brillaint post on Jilly's :)

Rosie x

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Looks so yummy! Love cupcakes!

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterTina

your interviews are always so much fun!!!!! and the photos yummmmmmmmmmmy

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Evans

Thanks for another enlightening, informative and enjoyable interview.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

Jilly's has wonderful cupcakes -- and they're huge! The flavors and varieties are really creative.

http://www.thecupcakery.net/st-louis/" REL="nofollow">The Cupcakery in St. Louis also has yummy cupcakes! Very moist cake and delish buttercream frosting.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

Oh gosh, I hope franchising doesn't ruin their cupcakes...standardization and cost control can really change a cupcake.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

great interview! jillys cupcake bar please franchise in LA!

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterLina

Sharon, don't feel bad, Jilly's has not been around THAT long! You have to go next visit though!

Amy: Fantastic!! That would be the one I would try too I think!

Nance: The better to share, right? Or not. I am not a big share-er myself.

Veggiegirl: Ha! You flatterer you! I have those dreams too!

Rural Vegan: Tell me about it. And here I am living in Seattle like a jerk.

Grace: I love the topping bar idea too--AND the cupcake croutons!

EB: Isn't that rad--I mean, we've all had moments of thinking "that's a great idea!" but to go for it...awesome!

Aran: Ha! Me too!

Marysol: Oh no!!! Go back!

Jill: So cute!

Rosie: Thanks!

Tina: You're preaching to the choir!

Diana: Thanks!!

Cynthia: You're too sweet--we need to interview you soon I think!

Ellen: I like big cupcakes and I cannot lie. We have to check out Cupcakery now too!

Dana: That is an interesting point. Actually I am sort of surprised we haven't seen more franchising in cupcakes yet on some level. Maybe that is the next step in the cupcake revolution?

Lina: Ha!! Lucky girl, you have so many good spots already!

August 16 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

yes! Let the online ordering commense!

August 19 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Danger

Well...I love the name. I'm diggin' the cuppycakes!

:-)

Might have to stop on in one of these days!

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterCookie Jill

While the cupcakes ARE wonderful, the business end of this little bakery is not. They often get call-ahead orders incorrect, advertise cupcakes on their website that aren't available and admit that they "really need to update that website" (but never do). I hope they get their act together so St. Louis can continue to enjoy great cupcakes.

August 26 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think that to receive the business loans from banks you ought to present a great motivation. However, once I've got a bank loan, just because I wanted to buy a building.

April 11 | Unregistered CommenterRay30Jody
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