Why I Bake Elaborate Cakes (and You Should, Too)

Go ahead, make the picturesque layer cake. You'll be glad you did.

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Living alone is the best. I don’t have to clean up after anyone else (other than my beagle, who is typically quite tidy). I make no compromises in the decorating realm. I only have to buy coffee beans every three weeks or so. The only problem: It’s tough for me to eat an entire multi-layer cake before the thing goes stale. The same goes for pies and trifles—really, any baked good that’s not handheld. But this weekend, perhaps possessed by the spirit of my Easter-loving grandmother, I got wild and made a giant coconut cake. With that, I decided: Living alone will no longer hold me back from my most ambitious baking projects.

Sharing is caring

When I think of a multi-day baking project like a pie, cake, or platter of elaborate croissants, I think in terms of occasions. In my mind, large baked goods are made for sharing—which is why I, a solo dweller, don’t usually make them. But this weekend, after I had eaten my fill of coconut cake, I dropped off a slice with my nosy downstairs neighbor. He was delighted, as was his rotund French bulldog. I left two more slices with the couple on the first floor; they wished me a happy Easter and texted me a meme. I sent my boyfriend home with a slice; I dropped two more slices off with my dog sitter to thank them for their tireless service; finally, I brought three slices to the office for my coworkers.

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I realized that my thinking—the idea that certain baked goods are reserved for large group gatherings—was all wrong. I had plenty of people with whom to share my cake. I just had to step outside of my apartment.

Baking has benefits beyond the cake

Another reason I’m now in favor of ambitious baking for the solo apartment dweller: the actual baking process is, to me, even more fun than eating the finished product. Yes, I very much enjoyed eating my coconut cake—but I could’ve popped out to a local bakery and grabbed an equally delicious slice. The real pleasure was in the science and care that went into preparing the cake, which made me feel connected to my Easter-loving grandmother who passed away in 2014. My coconut cake was a reminder of the unique pleasure of a large-scale weekend baking project. It’s invigorating and relaxing and intensely satisfying, and shouldn’t be reserved for group gatherings.

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Ultimately, you can make a gigantic cake any time you want. If anything, it’s an excuse to build community—with your neighbors, your coworkers, your local transit operator, or all of the above. Living alone has its perks, but it makes it all the more essential to reach out and establish connections with people outside of your own space. That’s where cake comes in.