Coping with COVID Can Be a Piece of Cake
(November 15, 2020) Dr. Amy Malkus says when the COVID-19 pandemic hit she decided to revert to her comfort zone and do something she has always enjoyed doing.
“I have been baking since I was three years old and I come from a long line of women who thought that food cures everything,” she said. “So I decided to bake my way out of the stress.”
Malkus is a faculty member in the Clemmer College at East Tennessee State University and was looking for ways to cheer up her students after classes were moved to all-remote learning. In the beginning she would post funny pictures of her cats, and later she added photos of the cakes she had baked.
Why not share the cakes, she thought.
After baking one of her sweet delights, Malkus posted on her Facebook page that if anyone wanted a “contactless” piece of cake to let her know and she would wrap up a slice and have it waiting on her front porch for an easy drive-by pick-up.
Turns out, she had a lot of takers.
One cake turned into two cakes, and soon, Malkus was baking a new cake each week. “More and more people kept stopping by,” said Malkus, who teaches in ETSU’s Department of Early Childhood. “I enjoyed waving at them as they came to pick up their cake slices, and many would write telling me how much it made them feel a sense of community, and that they really needed that now. My students and colleagues shared how the treats were a nice stress reliever too.
“COVID-19 created a void in people’s lives that made them long for some kind of connection with others,” said Dr. Cynthia Chambers, associate dean at the Clemmer College. “Dr. Malkus’ ‘porch pieces’ have created an uplifting opportunity for people to celebrate unity and commune around the amazing sweetness of cake. Her service has been a blessing.”
“I bake a cake and keep it in the refrigerator. When one cake is gone, I start to work on a new one.”
Malkus says this has become a creative outlet for her and she enjoys making up new recipes. Presently she is in “fall mode” embracing spice cakes and pumpkin.
“I hear from a lot of people who have never been by for a slice of cake but tell me that just seeing the cake pictures makes them feel better,” she said. “They share how it brings back memories of their grandmas and the wonderful sweets she would bake.”