I Went To A Couples' Cooking Class Solo & Here's What Happened

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On the list of life’s greatest mysteries, along with why anyone would buy designer clothes for a baby and what future generations will think of vaping, is what happens at a couples' cooking class. I’ve always imagined bakeries with walls in peppy colors; heteronormative, perfectly coiffed, couples in matching His and Hers aprons; boyfriends lovingly smearing icing on their girlfriends' noses.

The thing is, I'm single. But I decided that was no reason to ignore my curiosity. Putting aside the fact that it would force me to confront my fears of dying alone and public displays of affection, I took one for the team and ventured into the unknown to find out what all the single ladies are missing out on. It was my duty as an independent woman (#feminism) to break social constructs, infiltrate the clubhouse, and discover exactly what goes down at a couples' cupcake-baking class.



Experiment Details
Location: Butter Lane Bakery in New York City
Class: Sweetheart Cupcakes
Teacher: Diana Lotesto

It was my first time going undercover — unless you count pretending to be a student to get a discount or telling a cute canvasser from Save All the Babies Everywhere! that I’m underage and can’t give money on the street. My “story” was that I just wanted to get back into baking and a Friday night was the only time I, a freelance writer who works from home and has no social life, could squeeze in a class. It begs few questions and was perfect.

I was still nervous. What would I wear? I weighed my options until I remembered that not a single person there was well...single. So I kept it casual with a hoodie, the oversized tank top and stretched-out sports bra I wore to an earlier yoga class, and paint-stained shorts to prevent girls from seeing me as a threat to their relationships.

They did not.

I walked into the charming (and a little peppy) shop five minutes early, but still the last to arrive, and impulsively joined the couple at the chocolate-cupcake table. They were originally standing across from each other, but as I walked over, the boyfriend moved to give me my own side. Understandable and appreciated. (Although on second thought, maybe a little territorial?)

From our brief conversations over the whirring of the KitchenAid mixers interspersed with logistical questions like “Do you want to pour the chocolate?” and “Were you listening to the directions?” I found out that they met online, were just a month into their relationship, and were predictably adorable, as any couple who attends a cupcake class would be. She had signed them up a week before and kept it a surprise until they walked through the door. Throughout class, I watched them smile at each other, giggle, compliment a mixing job well done, and cheer each other on in the face of frosting-glob adversity. They were a living, breathing embodiment of jolliness.

Meanwhile, I remained nonchalant.

As far as the actual class, there was nothing particularly romantic about it. No one cracked eggs on their partner’s head or spoon-fed them tablespoons of kosher salt. It was purely a fun, random thing to do that involved leaving the apartment, putting on real adult clothes, and interacting, which, according to the boyfriend at my table whose name I don’t remember, all make for a great date.

For the Seamless generation, cooking classes are wacky and retro. Just like those Tweed Bike Rides or A-ha-themed dance parties except with many selfies, Vines, Snapchats, and #datenight-tagged Instagrams.

Aside from having no one there to tell me I was doing a really good job at stirring, congratulate me for cracking eggs without getting shells in the bowl, or flirtatiously make fun of my desire to turn the KitchenAid up to speed 10, I didn’t feel all that single. Sure, I was basically a third wheel and no, I didn’t have anyone to hang out with during the 15-minute break. Instead, I stuck around and volunteered to help clean, was turned down, and then looked blankly at my phone for a while. But still, I felt fine. Really. I swear.

Perhaps the greatest discovery of all was the unexpected feeling of liberation that comes from not trying to impress anyone. I know that if I had come with a guy, I would have put in maximum effort to show off the mad baking chops that I’m convinced are buried deep within me. One failed attempt to frost a cupcake in the trademarked Butter Lane Cupcakes swirl led to a series of equally juvenile blobs. And in a truly easy, breezy, la-di-da moment that would have otherwise been occupied by perfectionism, I gave no fucks. So what if my cupcakes looked like I had already used them to pie someone in the face? Or my sprinkles were off-center and applied haphazardly? I had no idea which frosting I was using on which base, and I DIDN’T CARE!

With my box of nine cupcakes and a copy of the recipe, I headed home alone, having successfully played off the mild feelings of sadness for the past hour-and-a-half — finally privy to what happens behind a bakery’s closed doors. I had succeeded in my mission to gain truth and knowledge, and faced my own perfectionism with my head held high and my apron smeared with chocolate.

As the lights of Butter Lane dimmed behind bunches of twentysomethings stumbling three or four abreast down the sidewalk, I imagined sticking a tiny flag into a cupcake as I declared myself a brave explorer, queen of New York’s single women. Or, you know, just someone who’s comfortable being alone.

Even that deserves fanfare.
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