I took my first field trip to the local cupcake shop earlier this week. I did not expect to find one of the best cupcakes I have ever had at Dozen Cupcakes. The Raspberry Zinger is killer. I mean seriously good. I LOVED it! Nor did I expect one of the owners, James Gray, of Dozen to comment on my review. I got up the courage to ask him to give me an interview on all things cupcake. He was ever so nice and said yes.
Dozen is a joint effort between James Gray and Andrew Twigg. James and Andrew both live in Pittsburgh’s Regent Square neighborhood. James attended culinary school in Chicago and worked as a baker and cook in several Chicago restaurants. His best work went down in his Lincoln Square apartment, throwing dinner parties that would make the folks at Gourmet take a second look.Where were you when you came up with the idea for Dozen?I was in the car driving and thinking about what I was going to do with my life. I had just moved to Pittsburgh from Chicago and the opportunities were much fewer. It became clear that I would have to do my own thing if I was going to be employed doing something that I liked.We opened it very quickly. We started talking about it in late October and opened on December 29th! I still can’t believe we did it so fast.The fame and fortune! Just kidding. The best thing is seeing all the people’s faces light up when they come in here. Especially the kids. It is very rewarding.
What is your earliest cupcake memory?Hmmmm. I guess the box cupcakes that you always saw at the church picnics.
Where do your recipes come from, and what is your inspiration for new flavors?Most of our recipes are adaptations of old fashion recipes. We love to look through old women’s magazines and old cookbooks. We usually have to change a few things around to suite our tastes and the volume we bake. And our inspiration comes from anywhere really. Mostly we like the classic flavor combos but occasionally we spice it up a bit. Literally!We usually have to test something a few times to get it just right for Dozen. We have very particular standards for our yummy cupcakes.
Have you had any flavors that were a complete disaster?Honestly, we just haven’t had any disasters. We are very careful to make cupcakes that people will like!Cosmo and Elvis. The cosmo is a vanilla cake with vodka soaked cranberries and pink lime butterccream. The Elvis is a banana cake with a Nutella center and our famous peanut butter buttercream!
How many cupcakes do you make per day?Depends on the day. We bake about 3000-3500 a week with catering orders.
What do you do with the tasty leftovers at the end of the day?Some go to Meals on Wheels and the others get distributed out into the community one way or another.I love our Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes. Classic and Yummy!
How often do you eat cupcakes?Not very often now. I prefer to make them for others to enjoy. I like potato chips!
What do you do on your day off?What day off?Never!Why not. Some people don’t like frosting. We sell them without it if that is the way they want it.
What is next for Dozen Cupcakes?We are opening Dozen Bake Shop on Saturday January 26th. This is a bakery/cafe concept that is new in Pittsburgh. We will serve real homestyle desserts in a cute country-chic environment. We think it will be a hit.Thank you so much for asking me to do the interview! It was very nice of you.
Dozen is Pittsburgh’s urban cupcake experience. Bring the kids or a special someone or just bring yourself. Grab a unique cupcake for your co-worker’s birthday, or grab a dozen for the office; get a high quality coffee or tea. Forget a wedding cake, order 200 White Wedding cupcakes. Son or Daughter turning 5 years old? She or he will be the talk of the town when you dish up each guest their own unique cupcake. No forks, no knives! Dozen is bringing a little piece of the big city to this big little city of Pittsburgh.
How long did it take you to open Dozen, concept to fruition?
What is the best thing about owning a cupcake shop?
How many times do you test a recipe before it becomes a regular on the menu?
What is your most popular flavor?
What is your favorite cupcake?
Do you dream about cupcakes?
Is a cupcake, without frosting, a cupcake?
Is there anything you would like to add?