I like to cook. I hate to bake. Cooking is a lot like writing — so long as you have a general idea of what you want the end to look like, you can play around with exactly how you get there. Baking? That’s pure math. You need exactly this amount of these ingredients and you have to mix them properly, then bake at the right temperature, and then you should come out with the right answer/delicious baked good.
“Should” is sort of the operative word, here.
With that introduction, I present my easy step-by-step instructions for super delicious lemon basil cake bites.
1 box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake Mix
However many eggs and milk that requires (do not ask me, I don’t remember, so just read the back of the box)
Lemon curd (also probably from Trader Joe’s unless you have another one you dig)
A special cake pan with a pretty flower design
Step 1: Follow the instructions on the box
Follow the directions perfectly. Do not mess around here — add exactly the amount of milk and eggs required, mix for the specified amount of time. Do not screw it up. Before you pour your batter into your fancy schmancy pan, grease the shit out of that thing. Don’t hold back with the Pam.
Step 2: Bake it up
You’ve followed the directions without a single mistake, so just pour it in the (well-greased) pan and set it to bake for the minimum amount of time — 40 minutes, I think. Take a shower, do some yoga, whatever, but make sure to congratulate yourself on doing a great job on the mixing part. You might even start thinking now about how you’re going to present the cake so you can take really great pictures of it and share that shit on Pinterest. I mean, your guests (because, obviously, if you’re making this, you’re having people over, right?) are going to be FLOORED at how great this is.
Oh, also? Make sure to start this just an hour or two before your guests arrive. You know, for maximum freshness and stuff.
Step 3: Check it, rack it
If your experience is like mine, you’ll take it out at 40 minutes, stick a toothpick in, and find that it’s perfectly done. It’s a beautiful golden brown on top, and the toothpick comes out clean. Try not to hurt your shoulder patting yourself on the back at this point, but, you know, go ahead and give yourself a little pat. You’ve nailed it, right? Now all you have to do is wait for it to cool.
Step 4: Choose the perfect place to display it
I pulled out a gorgeous bamboo cutting board that was an ideal size — just a little bigger than the cake, and a great complement to the natural flower design on the cake. God, Pinterest is going to go CRAZY over this cake.
Step 5: Dump it onto the platter
Now is the moment of truth. Make sure to gently loosen it all around the edges, line it up with your chosen platter, and then turn the pan upside down and dump the cake out.
Step 6: GODDAMMIT I AM NEVER BAKING AGAIN
Once half of it comes out in a plop and the rest sticks to the bottom of the fucking pan, the fun really begins. For starters, you’re gonna want to find another way to display it, because, as is? It looks TERRIBLE.
Step 7: Have a drink
Once you’ve stopped screaming obscenities at the oven, pour yourself a drink. Maybe an extra one, too, depending on how high your sights were set on this being a fabulous dessert.
Step 8: Invent cake bites!
Cut up the parts of the cake that are reasonably salvageable into small squares. You know, the parts that at least mostly have a top and bottom that will sort of stick together. Arrange them on a plate, cover each with a dollop of lemon curd and a few snips of fresh basil.
Step 9: Tell everyone who saw it go down to tell your guests that this was the plan all along
No need to admit failure now. Lie, lie, and deny, baby.
Step 10: Get drunk and tell everyone about how you failed at baking a cake and so, CAKE BITES
Please. It’s not like you’re going to keep that story to yourself.