Baking In A New York City Apartment


I’ve mentioned my New York City apartment a couple times on the blog – check this and this.  So I thought it would be fun to elaborate and share with you all the place where the baking magic happens!

Let me start by saying that I’m very happy to be living in NYC.  I had my heart set on moving here since age 14 and, after two and a half years, I’m still loving it.  The city is full of neighborhoods to explore, restaurants to discover and experiences to be had.  But I’ll be the first to admit that you make some sacrifices in your living situation to enjoy all that good stuff – unless you’ve got money to spend or have an MTV reality show paying your rent.  

I’ll explain…


My apartment is tiny quaint.  Its small size makes for a cozy feel – which I LOVE – but doesn’t leave much space for baking and baking stuff.  I’ve accumulated lots of ingredients and supplies over the past few months and my kitchen cabinets just do not support me in this endeavor.  So when they started groaning under the weight of whole wheat pastry flour and saying things like we cannot fit any more of your unrefined sweeteners and grain sweetened chocolate chips!, I did the only thing I could.  I moved it to the bedroom.


Indeed, that is Sucanat in front of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  And molasses over by my crossword puzzle book.  But my personal favorite…


…would be the pair of cookie sheets sitting in my Basket of Random Stuff.  Right behind my fuzzy black monster slippers.  Their shape is utterly incompatible with my kitchen cabinets, so this was their next best home.  Obviously.  Don’t worry – I wash before using!

One more thing on space before we move on:


See how much room there is between the oven and the wall – er, trash can?  Not a lot.  More than a couple of baking accidents have resulted from me trying to maneuver my goods in and out of the heat.  Or from reaching in to poke my pumpkin bread with a toothpick and test for doneness.  That door is HOT and snaps back like nobody’s business!  Yes, I have battle scars and I wear them proudly.


Speaking of ovens…let’s talk about even temperature…and how my oven doesn’t believe in such a thing.  The back is WAY hotter than the front and is terribly mean to anything that encroaches on its territory.  You want to bake back here?  Silly muffins.  I’m going to burn you now. 

To deal with my oven’s attitude problem, I only place goodies-to-be in its frontal area.  So cookie sheets are always half full – six at a time, max – and anything on longer trays that has no choice but to cross the invisible boundary line gets rotated in the middle of baking. 

I cannot wait to have a nice oven one day.  Dare I wish for a convection oven?!  Ahh…it will be glorious.


I don’t have one of these.  But that’s crazy!  Everyone has a freezer!  That’s what I thought too.  Until I moved into my place and was introduced to Mr. Mini-Fridge.  He’s not just for dorm rooms anymore!


That little ice cap at the top is supposed to be the “freezer” part of the refrigerator.  Except it doesn’t actually keep things frozen.  And it can’t fit anything more than a bag of peas between its frosted walls.  I don’t even eat peas.

The challenge with loving to bake and not having a freezer is that I have nothing to do with excess treats.  Unless I want to eat them all in a matter of days.  Which may or may not happen from time to time.  When I do get a freezer, it’s going to be brimming with baked leftovers.  I can already imagine the awesomeness.

So that’s my home!  It also has quite lovely characteristics that I didn’t bring up – like a strip of exposed brick and warm, colorful walls.  I like to think of it as charming and quirky.  Maybe a little like me?  Ahh, who am I kidding.  My apartment is way cooler than I am. 

What’s your home like?  Is it built for baking fun?


49 Responses to “Baking In A New York City Apartment”

  1. 1 Laura January 29, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I live in a decent sized apartment, but the kitchen is tiny! It is bigger than your kitchen though, I do have an actual freezer and a small pantry. 🙂 I don’t bake nearly as much as I used to, and I think my kitchen has something to do with it.

  2. 2 Melissa January 29, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Oh cool, my best friend and I are planning a trip to NYC in a couple months. I’ve never been there before. She has but was little. What are some things you think we should ABSOLUTELY do while we are there (it’s just going to be a 3 day trip….)

  3. 3 eatingbender January 29, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks for the tour of your abode 🙂 I love seeing what an NYC apartment looks like after hearing all the typical stereotypes. It looks like you’ve found many ways to make the most of your surroundings. My favorite is your favorite: the basket of random stuff with the black fuzzy slippers!

    I like my apartment. The kitchen is pretty old and outdated, but it’s roomy for a college apartment, so I can’t complain too much! I guess now what I am most grateful for is my freezer! I don’t like peas, either 😉

  4. 4 Tyler (Raspberry Runner) January 30, 2009 at 12:11 am

    my kitchen is tiny, too! i don’t have much more counter space than you, and i have 4 roommates! i don’t know what i would do without a freezer though! where could you keep ice cream?! thanks for sharing these pics! it’s inspiring to see that you make such wonderful foods without a fancy kitchen 🙂

  5. 5 Amy January 30, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Oh my. You’ll be all ready for Top Chef with that kind of kitchen 🙂

  6. 6 Amanda January 30, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Your NY apartment reminds me a lot of our L.A. apartment. You gotta be creative sometimes.

    I would die if I didn’t have a freezer! But really the only things I keep in there are processed foods! So maybe it would be goood not to have a freezer!

  7. 7 Pearl January 30, 2009 at 3:14 am

    your post recently reminded me of this news article that was featured in NYtimes about this amazing chef who had a tiny NYC kitchen. and yet, he prepared an elaborate dinner for his dinner party.

    shall i see you featured on NYTIMES soon? 🙂

  8. 8 Lauren January 30, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Haha… oh, I totally know about the kitchen sacrifices to be made in order to live where you want to! During grad school, I got used to tiny Boston apartment kitchens; then we moved to Houston and bought a beautiful house with a glorious kitchen; and now we are back in Boston, fighting for room in our little kitchen. But ya know what? I’m about a MILLION times happier here than Houston. I’ll take a little kitchen in a place I love over a huge kitchen in a place I don’t.

  9. 9 VeggieGirl January 30, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Love it!!

    You’ve seen my kitchen in my video posts 😀

  10. 10 Melanie Thomassian January 30, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Hey Ashley,

    I know a little how you feel. For the past 6 months my hubby and I have been living in a tiny single bedroom abode in Tassie.

    I’m not sure how much it’ll change when we get back to the UK (we’re in Tasmania right now), but I’ll have all my decent equipment again, which will be good (like a proper mixer!!).

  11. 11 Allison January 30, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I love it!

    It might be small, but you work that space like a pro! 🙂 Thanks for sharing – it was fun to see “where the magic” happens! 😛

  12. 12 Miss Marie January 30, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I don’t live in NY but my kitchen is equally tiny. 🙂 I live in a condo downtown and I have no reality show funding me so it’s a 1/1 with a small kitchen. But I love it. 🙂

  13. 13 Andrea [bella eats] January 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

    I love this post, Ashley! Its so fun to get a peek into your life. I had the notion that I would move to NYC when I finished school, but alas, it never happened. I never thought about how difficult it would be to bake in the tiny apartment I would have had though!

    Our kitchen is not too small, but its not designed very efficiently. We have big Ikea plans for the future…hopefully this summer!

  14. 14 sweetandnatural January 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Laura – I totally forgot that pantries existed! That would be a wonderful luxury to have. 🙂

    Melissa – E-mail me! I have lots of suggestions depending on what you want to do.

    eatingbender – I knew the lack of freezer was going to be annoying, but now I feel like I’ll be truly appreciative when I actually have one again!

    Tyler (Raspberry Runner) – I know what that’s like – I had 5 roommates my senior year of college! I only have one now. As for ice cream…that’s probably the hardest part about not having a freezer. I am a total Ben & Jerry’s girl and used to keep a pint around all the time. Now I have to eat them right after buying and either share them with the bf or eat the whole thing myself! Don’t want to waste that yumminess. 😛

    Amy – Haha – Is there a baking Top Chef?

    Amanda – Creative – I like putting it that way. 😛

    Pearl – That would be a dream, right?!

    Lauren – Word. You’re right on. 🙂

    VeggieGirl – Your kitchem is a dream!

    Melanie Thomassian – Wow – Tasmania! I can only imagine the housing situation there. At least I can fit a hand mixer in my kitchen.

    Allison – I’m still mastering it!

    Miss Marie – I’m sure it’s lovely. 🙂

    Andrea [bella eats] – Glad you enjoyed the peek! Ikea is awesome. I can’t wait to see what you do!

  15. 15 Erica January 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I also live in NYC and have a really tiny kitchen, so I can completely sympathize. My cupboards are overflowing with all of my baking supplies. There are so many things I want to get (like a food processor) but I have nowhere to put them 😦 I haven’t resorted to keeping cookie sheets in my bedroom yet, but I think I’m going to have to soon!

  16. 16 Mariposa January 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    i love the pics of your kitchen! i am spoiled at my mother’s house, there is enough counter and table space to have like four things going at the same time. nevermind, my grandmother has an in-law apartment built onto the house… and she has her own oven, etc. soooooooo.. if you ever feel like coming to boston you can SPREAD OUT!

    but in my apartment?! im dying! hardly any counter space.. and we dont have a kitchen table yet- i am waiting until i do my taxes to get one.. until then i have to cram everything into one cabinet, even though we have a built in cabinet in the kitchen- its empty because someone near and dear to me will NOT let me put food in there..!!

  17. 17 Hangry Pants January 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Girlfriend, when I was in NY it was the same way! Plus, my floor was slanted. I love all the color on the wall though. 😀

  18. 18 Meghann January 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Wow! That is a cramped space! Luckily my kitch is just a smidge larger then that. I think it helps that I have an open area kitchen so it doesn’t look quite so squished 🙂

  19. 19 Sharon January 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Oh wow, I love it! I love how space it utilized to it’s full capacity. That is what I enjoyed so much about Hong Kong when I was there!

  20. 20 Hayley January 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Your apartment is too cute! I live at school during the academic year, and you’d be surprised at how nice our apartments on campus are. Full fridge and freezer, oven, microwave, kitchen island, and lots of cabinets and counter space. The only problem is coming up with money for the ingredients to actually make the food. I don’t know about other people, but I would rather buy a pair of shoes with my own money. I tend to keep cooking and baking for when I go home. Thanks for sharing your space, I would LOVE to live in NYC someday.

  21. 21 sweetandnatural January 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Erica – The things we give up to live here! Oh – and see that box sitting next to my fridge in the first and last pictures. That’s my food processor. Stored on my living room floor! 😛

    Mariposa – One day we’ll have gloriously spacious kitchens of our own!

    Hangry Pants – Don’t you miss it?! 😛

    Meghann – Ooh – an open kitchen sounds wonderful!

    Sharon – I think I’ve used my space past its full capacity! 😛

    Hayley – When I lived off-campus in college, I shared a house with 5 other girls. It wasn’t all that nice, but we had space! Even if we had to share it with each other.

  22. 22 lauren January 30, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    thanks for letting us look around! I just cant believe the mini fridge with no freezer! I really like your paint colors.

  23. 23 Joie de vivre January 30, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I love your tour! Everything is so cute! A mini fridge though, I don’t think I could survive. I love how stuff is stored all over your apartment.

  24. 24 Hayley January 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I hear you about the apartment…I’m in NYC, too, and the oven in my kitchen is about 20 years old and the heat is really unpredictable. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve burned…ugh.

  25. 25 Erin January 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    This is the coolest post! Oh wow, you get a lot done in that little space! I’m so excited! I had to go back and look at your other posts too. 🙂 I love it!
    I live in Texas (temporarily) and just as you would expect, we have a enormous kitchen. It’s amazing the difference in cost of living!

  26. 26 Marianne January 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    The only GOOD thing about my basement suite is the kitchen – it’s huge compared to the rest of my place. My oven leaves a bit to be desired, but considering how cheap my place also is, I can’t complain much.

    I don’t know how you do it in that space – not even a full sized fridge? I would cry.

  27. 27 Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) January 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Just found your blog! That was fun to read! I live in a place where there is nothing but a MICROWAVE!! GAH! It’s heartbreaking =/

  28. 28 emily January 31, 2009 at 12:03 am

    thank you so much for this post – I feel like people from other cities just don’t get it!

  29. 29 Jessica January 31, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I feel a lot better about my first apartment! The kitchen was actually the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom. It had a stove/oven that looked smaller than yours and about 2 feet of counter space. But at least there was a small fridge with a freezer tucked into a nook (right beside the bathroom door). Good job on the creative storage!

  30. 30 sweetandnatural January 31, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    lauren – Thanks! We had a fun time picking them out. Our bathroom is a deep hot pink!

    Joie de vivre – It will be fun to one day have a home where everything is in their rightful place! 🙂

    Erin – Haha – your enthusiasm made me smile! Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?!

    Marianne – You just make due with what you’ve got! But I can’t wait to have a nice kitchen some day. 🙂

    Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) – Ugh! That must be difficult! Though you can do a lot of stuff in a toaster oven if you’re ever looking to make a kitchen purchase!

    emily – It is definitely a distinct way of living here!

    Jessica – My kitchen’s sort of the same way! To give you perspective – check out the first pic – I was standing in my living room and that wooden door is my bathroom. The white door on the right is the entry to the apartment. 🙂

  31. 31 thepinkpeppercorn January 31, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I can totally relate to nearly all of your kitchen’s issues! I remember living in an apartment for a year, and only eating ice cream “out” since it wouldn’t freeze in the little spot either. Oh, and I couldn’t actually turn on more than one appliance at a time, or everything would short itself out… faaaabulous.

    hehe, the best part is that eventually with any little kitchen improvement in a future place – seems like you’ve hit the jackpot!!! 🙂

  32. 32 ttfn300 January 31, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    ok, now i am so impressed!! i have been in somewhat similar situations, but i finally said this is the one part of my apt that i love and need to have workable 🙂

  33. 33 Erin January 31, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    hahaha i love how you don’t let your limited baking space stop you from making gooodds.

    go girl go!

  34. 34 Angela January 31, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I find yuo oddly similar to the wonderful Deb from Smitten Kitchen. She too has a quaint kitchen, yet makes master pieces!!! Knowing that you pull off such amazing baked feats in yuor kitchen makes me adore you all the more!

  35. 35 caitlin January 31, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    oh my! nyc is crazy. i love to visit, but i dont know if i could live there. but i love your love of the big apple!!

  36. 36 strongandhealthy January 31, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I love NYC, even if the apartments are tiny. If I ever get there again, I’ll make sure to let you know!

    I wish our kitchen was larger. It drives me crazy!!

  37. 37 Mel February 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Wow, and I thought my kitchen was small! I am totally impressed with all of your baked goods anyway, and this just upped the ante! I don’t think I could do that. 🙂

    By the way, thank you for your really kind comment, I appreciate it more than you know!

  38. 38 sweetandnatural February 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    thepinkpeppercorn – Sounds like you had a very similar situation. And yes, I think I can only go up from here!

    ttfn300 – Hopefully I can be choosier next time I’m apartment hunting!

    Erin – Haha – thanks for the cheer!

    Angela – That’s quite the comparison! I’m blushing. I guess you just gotta work what you have!

    caitlin – Yep – lots of my friends say the same thing. 🙂

    strongandhealthy – Definitely do!

    Mel – You’re welcome. 😉

  39. 39 cassandra February 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I have ALWAYS wanted to move to NYC and it is still a dream, I envy you! My apt is in lA and has a large kitchen! I love it! I don’t really bake much, mainly because I am not well trained enough not to eat it all myself! But plan to bake more often!

  40. 40 Katie February 1, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Well you do a FABULOUS job with what you have. That’s TRUE talent and drive! 🙂

  41. 41 sweetandnatural February 2, 2009 at 7:59 am

    cassandra – Well I’m envious of your large kitchen! So we’re even. 😉

    Katie – So sweet! Thank you!

  42. 42 Amanda February 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Your kitchen seems a lot like mine!! I live in a 350 square foot studio apt with an equally small kitchen. I AM lucky enough to have gorgeous tile floors and granite countertops, so I can’t really complain.

    I’m lucky enough to have a full-sized fridge and freezer, but my kitchen has NO DRAWERS! Therefore, my microwave is on my bedside table, which no longer fits next to my bed .. but instead next to my fridge! The drawer in that table holds all my silverware.

    I have had to get really creative with storage, like you! My not-often used items (blender, food processor) are in my spacious bathroom linen closet! And only really having 1.5 cabinets for food (the rest stores dishes) has been a blessing and keeps me from over-buying processed foods!

    You do AMAZING things with such little space – keep it up girl!

  43. 43 Bridget February 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I’m way behind on my blog reading, but had to comment and say thanks for this post!! As a Midwest girl, I’ve always been so curious about what “real life” in NYC would be like. And I think people who are brave enough to move from the non-city Midwest to NYC are very cool 🙂

    My kitchen at my house in St. Louis was quite nice and spacious and my new kitchen in Omaha will be too! It has pretty cabinets and lots of counter space…yea, that’s what you get for living so freakin’ close to corn fields!

  44. 44 sweetandnatural February 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Amanda – It’s funny the things you have to think up to fit all your stuff in your small home!

    Bridget – I’m glad you enjoyed it! You’re very lucky to have a nice kitchen! 🙂

  45. 45 foodsthatfit February 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I’ve always told my husband that someday when we get a house I don’t care what the rest of it looks like as long as the kitchen is big!

  46. 46 rebecca February 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    i am so impressed. i think what i’d miss the most would be the freezer– for leftovers and breads that i could not possibly eat before they would go stale. and i won’t even ask about a dishwasher! but your goodies look so awesome that you apparently find to work it! =)

  47. 47 sweetandnatural February 22, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    foodsthatfit – My future kitchen will be glorious! I can feel it!

    rebecca – I DO miss the freezer a LOT!

  48. 48 Ashlea May 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I love it! Yes, we can definitely relate with our tiny spaces! Glad to see someone else isn’t inhibited by their space! Love your recipes as well and can’t wait to see more!

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