CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Oat flour, bananas, applesauce and honey might sound like strange ingredients to have in a cupcake batter.
However, when it’s a cake meant for dogs, the unusual combination creates a tasty treat.
As the owner of Two Dogs and a Baker, a dog-friendly cupcake catering business that opened on April 20, Alisha Olson bakes with these ingredients every week to satisfy the sweet tooth of her furry clients.
Dog owners can order a $15 box of six regular-sized or nine mini-sized cupcakes by messaging the Two Dogs and a Baker Facebook page. There are multiple cake flavors available, including peanut butter and banana, carob and red velvet.
The oat flour, applesauce, bananas and honey make up the basic batter. Then, to give the cakes more pizzazz, Olson adds natural and dog-safe flavorings. Carob, for instance, tastes and smells like chocolate but is made from a bean loaded with healthy vitamins and nutrients. Olson uses puréed beets to get her Red Velvet’s iconic red color and add extra antioxidants into the cake.
Every new cupcake flavor Olson tries out is reviewed and approved by two trusty taste testers — Wilbur, her boyfriend’s 15-year-old Aussie mix, and Olive, Olson’s six-month-old Golden Retriever.
“[Wilbur’s] kind of my cake tester around here,” she said. “Olive will put anything in her mouth, but Wilbur will sniff it, see if he’s interested, and then go from there.”
Olson was inspired to start the online cupcakery after noticing a lack of specialty dog treats available for purchase in the city.
“When I started doing research, there wasn’t anything in Cheyenne that is specifically dog-friendly, like treats,” she said. “There’s an occasional bakery that might do something … but nothing specifically that goes towards this sort of thing.”
As a former Sam’s Club cake baker and decorator, Olson knew how to make store-bought desserts from scratch. Creating sweets appropriate for animals, though, would be a challenge. Olson tested multiple dog-friendly cake recipes she found online. The first few batches came out too crumbly and dry for her liking, she said. Eventually, she discovered that adding water to the batter made it smoother and resulted in a fluffier cake.
Hearing her customers’ positive feedback on the cakes has made the trial-and-error process worth it, Olson said. During Two Cakes and a Baker’s opening weekend, she walked away with roughly 11 orders.
“I think the part that really made standing in my seat for as long as I did in my kitchen trying to figure this all out were the pictures the dog moms have sent back,” she said. “They said, ‘Hey [the dogs] really enjoyed it, they really liked it.'”
Although Olson runs Two Dogs and a Baker as a side business, she isn’t opposed to making it her full-time job. It would be a dream, she said, if she can bake cupcakes and hang out with Olive and Wilbur all day.
“I would love to be a stay-at-home dog mom,” she said. “If that’s an option and that’s where my side business takes me, I’m 100% for it.”