Food: Baked With Buzz

Story by Felicia D'Ambrosio | Photo by Michael Persico

Beer is often called liquid bread, a nod to both grainy origins and covert calorie content. At Betty’s Speakeasy, owner Liz Begosh and pastry chef Adriane Appleby reverse the process, transforming locally brewed liquids into covetable cakes and fudge. “We don’t like to make overly sweet sweets,” says Begosh, a former pro cyclist-turned-pastry queen. “The bitterness in beer balances honey, cane sugar and molasses.”

Displayed in vintage wire baskets in the homey café’s glass case, a rotating selection of staple and seasonal cupcakes hold court. Philadelphia Brewing Co.’s Walt Wit and fresh pears will spike the Witty Pear cake come autumn, when Begosh and Appleby will be busy cellaring squash to roast in Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, the crucial ingredient in Squash Blossom cupcakes. Currently featured is a Yards Saison cake, a magically light mixture of ginger, orange, cornmeal and the beer French farmers used to brew and set aside for hot-weather drinking—even the name saison means “season.”

One taste available daily is the first cake Betty’s created with beer—the popular Growler, a malty, roasty chocolate cake enriched with Victory Storm King Stout and topped with browned-butter frosting; appropriately, Growler debuted at the annual Brewer’s Plate event a few years ago.

For hopheads looking for a savory snack, beer even appears in the home-baked bread surrounding sandwiches that change with the rhythms of the farmers market. “We respect each ingredient,” says Begosh. “And we do tend to know what’s on draft at the local watering holes.”

Betty’s Speakeasy, open Tue.-Sat., 9 a.m.–7 p.m., 2241 Grays Ferry Ave., 215-735-9060,