Foodie Friday: The Cupcake Chef

Mia Bauer said that opening the bake shop with her husband was taking a leap of faith.

With a law degree and no professional training in baking, Mia Bauer and her husband, Jason, decided to start a small bakeshop in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was love at first Vanilla Coconut cupcake.

Almost ten years later, Crumbs Bake Shop churns out 1 million cupcakes per month at 36 different locations across the country. (That’s almost 1,400 cupcakes per hour.) Below, Bauer talks about her favorite non-cupcake dessert, the importance of doing what makes you happy, and the new delicacy coming to the sweets franchise this fall.

Title: Co-founder, Crumbs Bake Shop
Age: 42, but I feel 16
Graduated from: Brandeis University, B.A. in political science; J.D. from New York Law School
Previous jobs: Lawyer for the New York City Council

Job description in two sentences: I manage the baking, the creative end of business, and the front-of-counter experience of Crumbs, which means the customer experience. I’m constantly developing new flavors and varieties, as well as working closely with our customer service team to ensure that we offer the same customer experience as when we first opened on the Upper West Side.

How did your background in law translate to the food industry? [My husband] Jason and I always said that we should open a diner, because he would love to be a short-order cook and I loved waitressing. We went all in and didn’t really look back.

The Best Seller Collection includes Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Devil's Food, Peanut Butter Cup, Squiggle, and Cookie Dough for $27.

Why cupcakes? When I started dating Jason, we decided to combine our skills and open our first neighborhood bakery on the Upper West Side. When we first opened our store, the cupcakes were vanilla, chocolate, lemon, or strawberry, maybe with sprinkles.

But you weren’t the only game in town. We were the first bakery to create cupcakes with unique fillings, frostings, and decorations that had never been done before. Vanilla Coconut was one of my first creations. It consisted of vanilla cake frosted with rich vanilla cream cheese frosting and topped with just the right amount of sweet shredded coconut.

So you didn’t just sell cupcakes? While we made a variety of baked goods, it was our cupcakes that sold out every day, so we decided to expand and continued to grow our cupcake selection. Our gourmet cupcakes have now become the industry standard.

Have you always had a sweet tooth? Yes! Although I haven’t had any professional training, baking has always been my passion. I was constantly baking growing up, and my parents were good sports because they always told me it was delicious.

How does Crumbs stand out from the conglomerate of cupcakeries? We’re always keeping our selection fresh by debuting a new Cupcake of the Week each Monday and a Cupcake of the Month. We just added a Tasty Treat of the Week to showcase some of our amazing non-cupcake desserts.

What is July’s Cupcake of the Month? S’mores. It’s chocolate cake filled with vanilla cream cheese frosting, topped with chocolate cream cheese frosting and covered with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and graham cracker pieces.

Crumbs has locations in California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Chicago, New Jersey, New York City, and Virginia.

Something people don’t know about your job: I miss being behind the counter at our original location on the Upper West Side.

Best part of your job: I don’t mind the constant taste-tests. But working with my husband and best friend on a day-to-day basis is one of the best parts.

Most challenging part of your job: Finding a balance.

What’s your secret to to decorating each cupcake? I’ve always believed you need to make it personal. When you are decorating a cupcake, it should make you happy, so make it look and taste however makes you feel good.

Cupcakes sold per month: About 1 million.

Best-selling cupcake: Red Velvet.

Favorite cooking show: Barefoot Contessa has always been my inspiration; her recipes are flawless and so delicious, and her relaxed presence and confidence in the kitchen feels like a soothing meditation. I’m also obsessed with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives because the talent that exists in all corners of our country amazes me.

A single Milkshake Cupcake sells for $4.50.

Favorite cupcake: The Milkshake Cupcake, which is a marble cake filled with vanilla cream cheese frosting and mixed with chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs. Then it’s topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting and a chocolate cream cheese frosting swirl edge with chocolate crunchies.

Favorite non-cupcake dessert: Second to cupcakes, I’d have to say crumb cake, which we are about to offer in the fall.

LAUNCHING YOUR CAREER>>
Mia Bauer reveals her surefire recipe for sweet endings: Surround yourself with a fantastic team, and never stray from your original idea and beliefs. Be willing to work hard in the beginning and take a few risks.

Follow Crumbs on Twitter at @CRUMBSbakeshop and on its Facebook page. All photos courtesy of Crumbs.com.

PLUS: Check out more Foodie Fridays on No Joe Schmo!

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Check in next week for Foodie Friday!

Next week's Foodie Friday: Mia Bauer, a co-owner of Crumbs. Photo credit: crumbs.com

Sorry to disappoint, but no Foodie Friday today! The series will continue next week, with the co-owner of Crumbs Bakery, Mia Bauer. Be sure to tune in next week to read about Mia’s first experience with the dessert and what she loves most about baking.

In the meantime: trying to decide on a well-paying career path? Science and tech are always a solid background. Check out this article on The Huffington Post about how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy.

Happy Friday!