There is a new shop in town that is sure to spike your interest. Pittsburgh’s “Boozy Baker,” Eliza Bowman, is excited to finally be opening doors to Prohibition Pastries bakery on Saturday, April 1 after months and months of hard work and planning.
“It’s been a struggle, but just like they had to persevere to have whiskey during prohibition, I’ve just been working to get this place up and running since the Public Market closed,” says Bowman, who owned and operated Eliza’s Oven in the market before it shut down last year. “It has been a long and arduous process, but we’re almost there.”
Nestled between Renyold’s Motor Co. and the Frick Park Market, Prohibition Pastries has found a home on Reynolds Street in Point Breeze. In addition to serving her signature imbibed treats, Prohibition Pastries will be a bakery for the neighborhood.
“I’ve spent the past year doing recon, and trying to get a sense of what the neighborhood wants,” Bowman says. “There will be some coffee, and of course cookies, cupcakes, and whole cakes to go. Everyone has been asking about bread, so we will have, that too. I do make Steak and Stouts pies, pot pies, and breakfast stuff. The savory pies will be fresh, but frozen to take home for meals. I’ll also have my Barleywine Pretzels. I’m really going to gauge the community after we open. We will see what is in demand.”
The namesake of Bowman’s baked goods derives the fact that she uses locally-produced craft beverages in her recipies. Instead of using Vanilla Extract (which, she says, people forget is 35-40% alcohol), Bowman sources different gins, whiskeys, rums, and other alcoholic drinks to enhance the flavor of her treats.
“Alcohol is really an incredible flavor holder. Craft alcohols have so many flavors that enhance the pastry instead of just vanilla, which can overpower everything. For example, a craft gin has a lot of botanicals that bring out some floral or nutty flavors, instead of just covering everything with vanilla,” says Bowman.
Bowman was inspired by her Irish roots, and cooking with her best friend, Rose, to start experimenting with cooking with different alcohols. Many Irish recipes call for whiskey or Guinness, and the duo started thinking about how they could expand on this idea.
While boozy pastries sound delicious, the actual alcohol burns off during the baking. What does remain, however, are the different flavor notes in the drink.
“I don’t want parents to be afraid to give their children my treats. Everything is child-friendly,” she says. “I’m not selling cocktails. It is more nuanced, than ‘Woah, I just had a drink of whiskey.’”
However, if you do want something a little bit stiffer, Bowman is happy to oblige.
“People hear Prohibition Pastries and think, ‘How fun! I want that for my friend’s 21st Birthday!’ For those situations I can make cakes with a soaked layer, especially if people want that twang of something stronger.”
Some examples of treats Pittsburghers can look forward to at Prohibition Pastries include the “Blackstrap’s Booty,” a Chocolate Stout cake topped with a stout-infused vanilla buttercream, or the “Whisper of Whiskey,” a chocolate or vanilla cupcake with a whiskey dulce de leche center. In the past Bowman has made season treats like the “Rumpkin,” and the “Chocolate Cherry Stout”
Developing these recipes is a true labor of love for Bowman.
“It took me a long time to figure this stuff out. There were some crazy yeast explosions. It took tons of experiments, and a lot of trial and error. I have notebooks that are like. ‘Number 1, Number 2,’ and then you finally get to “Number 15. B,’ and you’re like, ‘That’s it!’”
In addition to the daily baked goods available in the shop, Prohibition Pastries also takes custom orders, and caters events. After their opening on April 1, the shop plans to be open Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Prohibition Pastries (7105 Reynolds Street)