What beverage would pair well with the Beer Blondie pastry topped with Beer Caramel Swirl sold at Green Room Burgers and Beer (4010 Pennsylvania Avenue)? Rather than ask for a glass of cold milk, order the Westport nanobrewery’s farmhouse ale dubbed Papa Louie’s Old Country Promise. After all, Matt and Erin Sameck, the husband-and-wife bakers behind 8-Bit Bakery, made the sweet treat with that very beer.
Erin is the creative force behind the fledgling bakery. She says, “I grew up in a house where my Mom and Dad both baked. I handle most of the creative recipe development; however, it was Matt’s idea to incorporate Green Room’s beer into our recipes.”
8-Bit Bakery launched in early May and signed up Green Room and Comedy City as its first two retail customers. A brewery and a comedy club might seem like odd venues to sell pastries, but there’s a back story.
Matt, a Detroit native, and Erin, a Kansas City native, originally formed the idea for their bakery in the San Francisco Bay area, where they lived during the mid-2000s. Erin, an interior designer by trade, says, “I was laid off after the 2008 stock market crash.”
That turn of events prompted them to move with their young son Harrison to Erin’s hometown four years ago. The Samecks both baked breads, biscuits and pastries regularly after resettling.
“I like making homemade versions of familiar pastries,” says Matt. “I started making Pop Tarts five years ago.”
The Sameck’s nascent idea of opening a bakery resurfaced. Matt, who was active in the local improv comedy scene, performed at Comedy City. He began taking samples to Clay Morgan, owner of the comedy club. Morgan grew interested in selling the pastries and the two discussed setting up a bakery in the club’s kitchen.
“They had a commercial kitchen but not a baking space,” says Matt. “Then we found the Farm to Table Kitchen in the City Market.”
The commercially-licensed kitchen is available to rent by the hour and suited the needs of the Samecks. It’s where Heirloom Bakery & Hearth had been baking before their space opened earlier this month. Both Matt and Erin work full-time while developing the bakery’s product line and accounts on the side.
Matt says, “Having two clients from the start gave us the confidence to move forward.”
The couple’s other initial retail account, Green Room Burgers and Beers, also developed through a comedy connection. Cindy Ptacek, who co-owns Green Room with her husband Michael, met Matt through Improv Thunderdome shows, where they performed at Comedy City. Green Room agreed to carry 8-Bit’s pastries. Soon, the bakery will also sell its Pop Tarts to Tapcade in the Crossroads for Sunday brunch.
Besides Beer Blondies, 8-Bit Bakery also makes salted brown butter rice crispy treats and oatmeal sandwich cookies topped with a beer caramel swirl. Their twist on Pop Tarts includes flavors such as strawberry balsamic, brown sugar cinnamon, malted chocolate and banana and spiced chocolate and cherry. Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes have a cookie dough base.
“We’re working on a chocolate Porter cake with blackberry filling and chocolate glaze,” says Matt, who is eager to use more local craft beer in the recipes.
While still new, 8-Bit Bakery has a promising start. Erin says, “We’re pleasantly surprised at the support we’ve gotten from Facebook followers.”
The eventual goal is to open a stand-alone bakery and arcade, a clue to the 8-Bit arcade game reference in the bakery’s name. For now, Matt says, “We’ll start with the bakery and shoot for selling in the City Market or Overland Park Farmers Market in the future.”