Confectionery chef Amanda Dingey of Ford City is on a roll.
Dingey owns and operates StudeCakers, a mobile and online custom cupcake business she opened in 2012 after leaving a corporate customer service job.
“Last year, I sold over 35,000 cupcakes,” says Dingey, 45. “My cupcake flavors scream ‘fun.’ ”
StudeCakers offers about 60 cupcake flavors and is licensed and inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance and a one dozen minimum order is required on all flavors.
Customers line up to order from her “Cupcake Trailer,” a restored vintage 17-foot 1975 Scotty RV trailer turned food truck.
“My parents had a 1955 Studebaker that I learned to drive on,” Dingey says. “My dad always had a Studebaker, so I knew I had to do a play on that naming the business.”
The trailer was purchased for $200, and Dingey spent $3,000 on renovations, which included adding air conditioning and custom wooden compartments sized to keep the cupcakes secure.
New for this year is a line of hard-to-find cookies, many inspired by Eastern European recipes.
Dingey says a recent visit to Slovakia and the Czech Republic inspired her to lean on her heritage as inspiration for adding a creative cookie line to her current cupcake menu.
“My trip there really got me thinking about how I can make things that maybe my ancestors made years ago in their country,” Dingey says.
“Kolacky (nut rolls), Trubochki (cream-filled pizzelles) and raspberry jam Polish cream cheese cookies are a few examples.”
The Pittsburgh tradition of the wedding “cookie table” also provided motivation for Dingey, who says she’s constantly thinking of ways to make things new in her cupcake world.
“I wanted to bring cookie table creations to those people who are first to grab them off a cookie table — like tassies, ladylocks and pizzelles,” Dingey says.
Dingey can bake up to 104 cupcakes every 20 minutes using two ovens in her custom basement kitchen at her residence.
She’s generous with the icing and she never freezes her creations.
“Anything with peanut butter is a big seller,” she says.
StudeCakers’ mobile aspect is seasonal, with the trailer stored for a few months during wintertime, usually resuming mobile sales in April, primarily in Armstrong and Westmoreland counties.
Spreadsheets and graphs keep Dingey’s baking schedule sane, and she credits her son, Dawson, with her decision to quit her corporate job for a cupcake and cookie career.
“I’d had a bad day at work and my son said, ‘Why do you go to work to get yelled at when you make cupcakes that make everyone happy?’ ” Dingey says. “I knew then it was time to hang up the customer service business and be my own boss.”
Dingey encourages special requests from customers that include those planning weddings, showers, parties and graduations.
“I’m always happy to make your tastebuds dance and your belly happy,” Dingey says. “I love a challenge.”
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.