You may have had the opportunity to sample one of the Revolver cupcakes — Four Roses Bourbon, coffee liqueur and orange bitters — from Prohibition Bakery at Good Spirits in March. Maybe you met the bakers extraordinaires, Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem. Maybe you’ve even been to their Lower East Side cupcake shop.
Whether you know their stuff or not, these women are experts when it comes to baking with booze. We asked them about how they got started, how to bake with hooch, what they drink when they have the chance and for the recipe to their Dark and Stormy cupcake.
Edible Manhattan: How did you two meet?
Brooke Siem: We met on a Birthright trip to Israel in 2011. We had similar days off of work because we both worked in the industry, and we were bored and liked baking. We started giving our cupcakes to our friends and they started to place orders. We just walked through all the doors that were open.
Leslie Feinberg: It’s also pretty funny that we met on a Birthright trip and we now make a bacon cupcake.
EM: How did you start baking with spirits?
LF: It was something that no one else was doing. There were a thousand other cupcake shops in the city but everyone was just doing chocolate and vanilla and blue frosting.
BS: We were just bored and we wanted to see what we could do. Our friend wanted to throw a bachelorette party for a friend, and I thought, oh, I could make her a cosmo cupcake because she loves cosmopolitans. The idea came to us… and it just became apparent that it was a good idea.
EM: What might home bakers not know about baking with spirits? What might surprise them?
BS: The biggest thing is to take cues from classic cocktails. For example, if you’re making an orange cake and you add a little tequila and grenadine, you have a variation on a classic tequila sunrise.
LF: No one should be making olive martini frosting. But sometimes when you play with really different flavors, sometimes something really amazing happens. Like when we were playing around with our old fashioned cupcake, we added bitters to the frosting — and it was amazing… You need to be willing to mess things up. If it comes out weird, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good idea. You just need to work on it a little more.
BS: You also can do a lot with beer… You have to give it a little more thought than just chocolate and peanut butter.
EM: Where do you get your inspiration?
LF: Everyone we meet is more than happy to give us flavor ideas. We live in the perfect place to get inspiration. You go the bar across the street and you have a great cocktail and you think, I could totally make this into a cupcake. We get a ton of custom orders, too, and those often come out way better than whatever we were imagining.
BS: You can take riffs off of any flavor combos you think would work. Even a savory dish — take two flavors you think really go well together and think, what else might go with this? Maybe you like strawberry and thyme together, and vodka and lemon would go pretty well with that. If you would want to drink it, it’ll probably be great as a cupcake too.
EM: What’s your favorite thing to drink? What about your favorite cupcake?
LF: It depends on my mood. I tend to like an old fashioned, but otherwise I just go for plain whiskey. My best drink to make is a margarita, as Brooke will attest.
BS: I could drink a margarita at any time of the day. When it’s not a margarita, I like scotch. My favorite cupcake is our margarita, because I’m just so proud of how accurate it tastes. But I also really love our pretzels and beer cupcake, which is our best seller.
LF: I am particularly fond of our old-fashioned cupcake — I think it’s amazing — but I think my favorite cupcake is our seasonal hot buttered rum cupcake.
Prohibition Bakery’s Dark and Stormy cupcakes
Brooke and Leslie often measure ingredients in grams because it allows for more consistency. If you’ve never baked using grams before, not to worry! We’ve done the conversions for you.
½ cup ginger beer
½ cup butter, unsalted
75 grams (1/2 cup) sour cream, or full fat plain yogurt
166 grams (1 1/3 cup) flour
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
100 grams (7 tablespoons) very finely minced ginger
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup room-temperature butter
1 pound confectioners sugar
¼ cup Gosling’s dark rum
Garnish: lime zest
To make the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat eggs and sour cream until they’re fully combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
4. Combine ginger beer and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low until butter melts, taking care not to let it boil. Let cool slightly.
5. While mixer is running, very slowly pour in ginger beer/butter mixture.
6. Slowly add dry ingredients (about a quarter of it at a time) to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth.
7. Add minced ginger and stir to combine fully.
8. Using a spoon or a pastry bag, fill lined mini cupcake tins 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake on the oven’s middle rack for 10 minutes and let cool on a cooling rack. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean, or when the cake looks a little browned through the liner.
In an electric mixer, beat butter with paddle until it’s fluffy. On low speed, add the powdered sugar (about a quarter of it at a time). The butter will start to clump up a bit once the sugar is incorporated. Slowly stream in Gosling’s Dark Rum and beat until off-white and totally smooth.
When cupcakes are cool, frost to your liking — with a pastry bag (or a plastic Baggie filled with frosting and with the last ¼-inch of a corner cut off), an angled spatula, a regular spatula or a spoon. Garnish with lime zest.
Feature photo courtesy of Prohibition Bakery