Cool Friends: Tanya Bush 

February 18, 2022

Meet Tanya, a super cool Brooklyn-based baker whose work we discovered when we stumbled upon her phenomenal instagram account: In addition to sharing absolutely beautiful treats on instagram (a few of which made her happy) Tanya has popped up at some of our favorite spots like Kit’s in Prospect Heights and Brushland Eating House upstate. We caught up with Tanya to hear a little more about her inspiration.

How did you start your existential baking account, Will This Make Me Happy?

The Will This Make Me Happy project emerged during that grim first pandemic winter. My grad program had gone entirely online and I was feeling stuck and estranged in my boxy Brooklyn apartment. It was the phase of the pandemic where stress-baking articles were circulating endlessly, pieces that claimed baking sourdough or banana bread would remedy existential dread. I was skeptical, but in dire need of a pastime to pull me out of myself. I’ve always loved how tactile baking is.

I decided Instagram would be a good forum for a baking experiment, a place to publicly explore whether creating and eating sweetly can actually quell our deepest anxieties. At first it was just an outlet for me to bitch. Like, No. Madeleines with orange zest did not stop me from offloading my petty grievances onto those nearest and dearest. But it very quickly became a meaningful venue for connection. I gave away free cookies in the park, and then led a large bake sale to benefit mutual aid orgs in New York. I was making things that made people happy. Even if it wasn’t exactly curing my own anxiety, it did make me feel useful.

Since then, it's become a place for creative play and connection — a place people can hopefully go to find some kind of companionship in pairing emotional spiraling with pastry-making.  

What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?

I love New York with my whole, sometimes-cynical little heart, and the creative community is the best part. I love the robust spirit of collaboration and generosity. I love how everyone is devoted to making beautiful things for themselves and for each other. So much of what I'm creating now has developed out of this collective impulse. I’m working on a project, Cake Zine, that uses sweets as impetus for cultural, historical and artistic exploration. Our first issue, titled Sexy Cake, will feature everything from erotic bakers and “better than bad sex” recipes to essays and poems on seduction via pastry. I would never have been brave enough to try something like this alone. My co-editor Aliza Abarbanel is an incredibly creative and sharp-minded collaborator, who has helped shape the project into something more interesting than I could have imagined. So, hands down, my favorite thing about the New York creative community is the abundance of talented people who are just excited to make and then share things they care about.  

What's inspiring you right now?

I’m inspired by Roxana Halls’ paintings. She has a series called “Appetites” which depicts female subjects in various states of hunger: A woman in a garish gown presents a single candy on a platter with a grotesque smile; another looks affectionately down on a mass of oranges tucked in her sweater. The paintings strike this incredible balance between chaos and control that I hope to emulate in my own work.

I’ve been thinking about this balance recently, in the context of recipe writing. Most recipes offer a stable and generally bland guide to producing a finished dish. There’s always a little story introduction that everyone skips. But what if your recipe writer is stoned out of their mind? Or desperately insecure, or actually resentful about offering you their secrets? I want to put mood and emotion—even when it’s unsightly or absurd or teeters on the brink of the messy — back into recipe writing. I want to confront the reader with narrative. It’s the way I bake so it feels only natural.

Follow along
@willthismakemehappy on Instagram
Cake Zine

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Made in Brooklyn, NY