Step One: Be a Snob.
You need to be snobbish. Parade through the grocery store. You’ll have Linda from the CWA watching your every move, and you need to not care. She’s not making this cake, you are. She won’t understand it but there’s an art to picking the perfect packet mix. Our mission: chocolate cake. We want ready to spread frosting. Commit to the non-commitment of packet mixes. Don’t put it in the trolley like you’re buying condoms, don’t hide it, own it. Let Linda see it, let her know it’ll taste better than her handmade gateau.
Step Two: Use Google.
Preheat your oven. Do it. Right now. You’ll forget otherwise. You’ll need eggs, milk, butter. Don’t have butter? Proceed to then google: “butter substitutes packet cake chocolate”. Google will make sense of it. Why didn’t you buy butter when we were at the store? For God’s sake. Whatever, moving on.
Step Three: Pick Your Trauma.
Pour packet mix into the bowl. Add your eggs. Use some force, we want these eggs cracked, let this be your therapy. Use any high school trauma you’ve hoarded in the back of your mind, it’s angsty and conceited, it’ll get the job done. Warning: do not use childhood anger, you will obliterate the egg and scramble it in the heat of your rage. Add milk, and I would say add butter, but someone forgot it, so now we have to add olive oil. Don’t be like Linda and hand mix with the wooden spoon she definitely threatened her kids with – use a mixer.
Step Four: Embrace Salmonella.
Thank God you pre-heated the oven when you did. The sooner this cake cooks, the sooner we can eat our feelings. Read the box. Forty minutes. Don’t forget it, but don’t set a timer. You’ll remember, you’re reliable like that. Take this opportunity to indulge. Lick the bowl. You haven’t done that since you were eight. Put your whole face in it, let it get all over your mouth. Try to ignore the worry of salmonella. Picture your death from salmonella – face down in a bowl of chocolate cake batter. Don’t stop though, it’s a worthy way to go.
Step Five: Have an Ex.
Get distracted re-reading texts from your ex. Waste time pondering over the statement, “I’m sorry I just can’t be with you anymore, but I still love you.” Like seriously, what does that even mean? Realise the cake is burning. Grab it out. It looks okay. Now you need to get the cake out of the tin. Flip the cake, with support though, so not the same way your ex turned your life upside down. Use your hand to hold the top of the cake. Tap the tin. Make a tune of it. Consider life as a musician. Realise cake-tins are not recognised instruments. Scrap that career plan. Feel the cake give in your hand, the same way you want someone to give for you – willingly. Gently pull away the tin. You’re undressing this cake, it’s vulnerable, be careful. Use a plate to flip the cake upright. There, that looks good. It’s a lot less broken than you were when got yourself upright again, good job.
Step Six: Check for poison.
Once the cake has cooled down, it’s icing time. Grab a mug, not your favourite though, maybe use the one you got given from the work secret Santa. Fill with hot water. Grab a butter knife. Crack open our ready to spread frosting (see, wasn’t that a good idea?). Dip your knife in the hot water and then scoop up some icing and spread. Try not to eat it as you go. Well… Okay, one little taste. Better make sure it’s not poisoned. Put way too much on the top and then realise you need to ice the sides. Should you even bother icing the sides? Linda would do it. Maybe just this once be like Linda. Like a haircut, take some off the top and ice the sides. Remember to dip your knife in hot water each time you grab more icing. It stops it from sticking. If only you could do that with annoying people.
Step Seven: Eat.
You now know what needs to be done, and here is my final instruction: don’t hesitate.
Author: Jaime is a fourth-year QUT student studying Creative Industries and Law. She has been published in Glass, Verses Zine, Luna Mag and others. You can find her on Instagram @jvc.lit.
Artist: Steph Blinco is a third year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. A local Brisbane emerging artist, her practice makes statements about everyday life through collaged imagery. Intertwining psychedelic patterns to create collisions of colour and era, Steph draws influences from autobiographical contexts, ranging from her childhood to her experiences now as a young adult. You can find her on Instagram @stephblincoart.