Actor Sarah Levy Ups Her Baking Game

“Cooking and baking with my hands is just so therapeutic. It’s instant gratification.”

The Great Ones is a celebration of humans we admire — and an exploration of why they cook, not just how. Actor Sarah Levy, best known for her role in the beloved Schitt’s Creek, first learned to bake by watching her grandmother and mother in the kitchen. As she grew up, she tuned in to the Food Network, learning the basics. We visited her in her new home in Los Angeles to discuss her journey as a home baker and her quest to make the perfect cinnamon buns.

I picked up baking specifically from my grandmother by watching her bake. She was always in the kitchen, and I remember the stack of handwritten recipes she would keep in her recipe card box. She would make cookies and Duncan Hines — things that were really basic, but I learned the simple things, like how to grease and flour the pan, from her.

My mom is a great cook and an amazing baker when she bakes — she would probably deny that, but it’s the truth. She always taught me to measure the dry ingredients in the dry measuring cup and the wet ingredients in the wet measuring cup. All of those basics were instilled in me from a very young age.
All of those basics were instilled in me from a very young age.

Cooking really took off for me as a kid watching the Food Network. I would come home from school and watch the Food Network from four to seven o’clock. It was everything from a grilling show to a baking show to Ina Garten doing everything, and I just loved watching people make food. I learned from just watching the Food Network, like how to cut something or clean something. Just through osmosis I held on to it, and I still love doing it. Everyone made fun of me for watching the Food Network, but now I’m the only one who knows how to cook. So who’s laughing now?
Everyone made fun of me for watching the Food Network, but now I’m the only one who knows how to cook. So who’s laughing now?



For the past two years, I’ve just been cooking with my husband. But I love cooking for friends. We had people over the other night, and I made this recipe from Half Baked Harvest; it’s a sheet-pan chipotle salmon recipe, and it’s so easy because it’s all on one pan. When I’m cooking for other people, too, I want it to be foolproof. But I like having people over to try something new, too. I follow a bunch of food influencers, chefs, and recipe creators who make food that looks so beautiful, so I have friends over so I can try a new recipe.

I love cooking and baking because it provides a sense of satisfaction that I feel like I don’t normally get in my everyday life with work. With my job you don’t get to work with your hands, and everything is subjective. You don’t know if you did it right; you think maybe you did it right. With cooking and baking you put something together and create something there in front of you. There’s a final product, and I find that so satisfying. Cooking and baking with my hands is just so therapeutic. It’s instant gratification.
It’s instant gratification.

I started acting professionally in my early 20s. Both my brother and I always knew we wanted to pursue acting, but my parents were always adamant that we go to universities and see what else was out there. But we got to the age where our parents were like, Okay, have at it. I came out to L.A. in my early 20s and did the struggling-actor thing. I worked in restaurants, tried to network, and went to castings.

I was slowly building my résumé, and then Schitt’s Creek happened. It really caught us all off guard. It’s interesting because it felt like it really took five years for the show to reach a place most shows reach in their first or second season. It was a really fun ride because we were just in it together watching the show grow. I did a couple of things while working on Schitt’s Creek and moved on to a sci-fi show after that, and now we’re here.
It was a really fun ride because we were just in it together watching the show grow.

I think with recipes as long as you can read them you can do them. Some are more complicated than others, but if it fails it fails and if it works that’s a great surprise. With baking, things are more exact, so I’ve had way more fails than with cooking. I would love to take a class on bread baking so I can learn the proper way to do things like knead dough. Something I’ve always admired is seeing all of these amazing cakes and pastries and pies, and knowing how to get a perfect biscuit blows my mind. I’d love to just learn those skills. Over the pandemic, my husband and I did a little pizza class, and just one hour of learning those basics made such a huge difference.

One of my favorite things in the world is a cinnamon bun. As I’m working on my baking I’ve been like, Wouldn’t it just be great to make the perfect cinnamon bun? This is a recipe I've tried once before from Broma Bakery. They’re chocolate cinnamon buns, and I used Nutella. I’m trying to hone my baking skills, and I’ve been interested in cinnamon rolls these past few months. There are so many different factors; I’m learning them all as I go. I’ve been working on perfecting the dough — one time I underbaked it, another time I overbaked it. This is maybe my fourth or fifth time making them, and I like that this has an interesting twist with the chocolate. I kind of held my breath and hoped these would turn out well — and they did!
One of my favorite things in the world is a cinnamon bun.

This recipe is interesting because it uses an instant rise yeast, and you don’t need to let them rise like you usually do; it only takes half an hour. This time I also used dental floss to cut them. Usually I use a knife, but the floss — or the “string method” — was great because it didn’t squish the dough. It’s also just so satisfying; it adds to that therapeutic element with baking.

Because I’m really trying to bake more, I was so excited to get Hot Dish. I love the retro vibe it has, too. It kind of reminds me of my grandmother’s stuff. I’m excited to use it as a roasting dish, too. I knew it would be incredibly useful because my kitchen doesn’t have a lot of storage space, so everything I do have has to be really versatile. I don’t have space for anything that just has a single use. I can roast vegetables in it for dinner; there’s a billion things you can do in it. Big Chill has been so great as well; it’s so colorful, and the joy of seeing something colorful in your kitchen brightens the moment.
It kind of reminds me of my grandmother’s stuff.


Photos by Bradley Meinz

Sarah's Go-To Designs

Hot Dish
9 x 13-Inch Ceramic Casserole Dish
$75$50
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Big Chill
Nonstick Cooling Rack Duo
$50$40
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Holy Sheet
Nonstick Half-Sheet Pan
$40
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