I needed to get out of the house. I had just finished my 14th week working from home. Other than daily walks with Kaira, trips to the grocery store, outings to pick up restaurant take-out, and weekly bike rides, I had barely left the house and the days were blending together.
But it wasn’t only about getting out of the house. It was about escaping. It was about going somewhere I hadn’t been to before. And I was doing it for cake. Call it getting out of the house if you want to but it was really my “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” journey.
My friend Janna has been raving about this cake shop for months, maybe even longer. With my affinity for cake, you would think it would be a top priority to try this cake, one that has seemingly formed a loyal and passionate following. Sweet Cakes 4 U is in Buda, 16 miles from Downtown Austin, and since I live in North Austin, it is 28 miles or 36 minutes one way. Yes, that would be a 72-minute trip for cake. I hadn’t made it there yet.
With a Friday off and a craving for cake, I jumped at the opportunity to make the journey. Janna warned me that the shop sells out quickly and sure enough when I arrived before it opened, there were already seven people in line. It was 11 a.m. on a Friday. Granted, they don’t take pre-orders and are only open Thursday through Sunday, but when the main thing you sell is dessert, you’ve got to have some very passionate or curious customers. Needless to say, I was intrigued as I got in line.
Sweet Cakes 4 U, located in the cute bright shops in Downtown Buda, is known for its big slices of cake with three layers of cake and frosting each. They have more than a dozen flavors on their menu that changes every week. If you’re early in line and planning to get a cake for a crowd, you can also snag a whole cake that feeds 6-8 people for $50. Along with the cake slices, the menu features cupcakes, mini cheesecakes, cake balls, brownies, and cookies. Gratefully, they have a mask requirement and a to-go window that allows for quick, one-by-one service without stepping inside the shop.
Because of the bakery’s distance from my house, I made the most of the trip by getting six slices of cake and a cupcake. That might have sounded really casual, so I’ll say it again with more emphasis.
SIX SLICES OF CAKE.
I got slices of triple chocolate, chocolate salted caramel, strawberries and cream, tres leches, carrot, and chocolate with strawberry. Y’all. Each slice probably weighed about an lb. I got a funfetti cupcake for good measure since I have a thing for cupcakes and all.
The process was quick and easy and before long, I was back in my car, carefully tucking all the slices into the cooler I brought because obviously I had to maintain the quality during the long ride home. All except that cupcake. That was devoured immediately as I started to drive away.
On the long drive home, I thought about the significance of having the day off. You see, it was Juneteenth, and our company decided earlier that week to make it a paid holiday. On June 19th, 1865, TWO YEARS after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to bring the news that slaves were now free. I wanted to honor the significance from a distance. Honestly, I wanted to escape. The weeks following more murders of black people and protests throughout the U.S. had proved to begin a painful and emotional movement to confront and break racism in the U.S., a movement that seemed serious about delivering real results. It rightfully dismantled whatever security we, the non-black population, felt in our lives and the ways we ignored racism to keep the peace.
At the same time, what a strange time in the midst of a pandemic that has shattered our views and plans for the future. It’s hard to put into words what this time in life is like. It is frustrating yet simple. It is boring yet full. It is uncomfortable and emotional. It is easy yet lacking. We can see it as an opportunity to slow life down but it has also created grief. Hundreds of my colleagues and thousands in the travel industry are without work. There are negative consequences when you consider the development and safety of children without regular school, the widening gap of poverty, and the overall morale and mental health, just to name a few issues. It’s a lot.
And there, that’s really why I needed this seemingly simple and frivolous journey. I brought home six huge slices of cake, full of hope that they were delicious and they would pick me up and bring me joy. The time spent on this journey gave me the chance to take a break and reflect. It gave me the opportunity to drive from one end of Austin to the other, sending loving thoughts to my friends, colleagues, and the people of Austin along the way.
One by one, I tried a few slices each day and finished them all in a week. (Don’t worry, Will helped.) Strawberries and cream was hands down my favorite flavor. I admit, six slices of cake were ambitious and kind of ridiculous because it really was a lot of cake. It made me chuckle the whole time – loading the slices into my car to seeing the slices in my fridge every time I opened it – about how dedicated to sugar rushes I am.
All I needed was cake (and the hope of dismantling systematic racism and moving forward to the post-COVID life). In all the frustrating and chaotic times of this year, there are a few things I can count on. The first experience at a new bakery, the adventure of trying something new, and the sweetness of delicious cake.
Sweet Cakes 4 U
302 S Main St Suite 101, Buda, Texas 78610
Thursday – Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
No website but they update their Facebook page daily