In 2018, I made a cake for my book club.
I’d been baking something new and different for every meeting, but this month, I had a hankering for cake. We’d read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and the book itself had such lush visual imagery and so many detailed descriptions of food. We were already planning on bringing some of it into our book club meeting—hot spiced cider and caramel corn, plus a one-time-only dress code of black and white and red—so I bought some black cocoa and decided to try and pay tribute to the black-and-white striped circus tents, and the beautiful, detailed clock.
I had no idea that it would birth a new hobby for me.
I often tell people that food is my love language. I’ve baked wedding cakes, worked for a chocolatier, and studied the ins and outs of sourdough bread from a baker I admire. For a year in my twenties, I lived out of a backpack, staying with strangers across Europe, and in each place, I asked for a recipe to take with me. My holidays back home at my parents’ house are filled with food and pastries, including an annual pierogi day in which my very Polish family gets together to hand-make hundreds of the delicious stuffed dumplings. Even inviting the aunts and uncles over to watch a football game always means enough appetizers, creative chip dips, and finger foods to feed an army.
So maybe it’s no surprise that I’d end up here, with a project I call “Have Your Cake and Read It Too.”
My cakes are my favorite way to leave a book review. I take the unique flavors of each book into account—the chai tea cake for Under the Whispering Door, for example, with its heavenly scents of cardamom and cinnamon and vanilla, or the “carroty Verity” cake, which had a wordplay opportunity I couldn’t resist. It’s become a way for me to grow and learn as a baker, and for me to think deeply about the books I consume (pun intended).
Here are a few of the cakes I’ve made over the years, but if you’re interested in seeing more, find me on Instagram at @embakesbooks_
If you’re interested in commissioning a cake for a book you wrote, published, or represent, please fill out a cake commission form, which you will find here. Availability is limited.