how to make a birthday cake

So I wake up at an almost-reasonable time and start making Hannah a birthday cake for everyone to eat at open apartment this afternoon.

Halfway through the recipe, I realize we have maybe 1/2 a cup of white flour. No problem, I think. Hannah will have some! We’re past that awkward stage in any friendship where me asking her to donate flour for her own birthday cake would be weird and uncomfortable. I call Hannah. She says she and Josh are broke and she only has a 1/4 cup. The recipe calls for 2 cups. I put on Dylan's shoes and run downstairs to the bakery, hoping they’ll have a small, overpriced package of white flour. At first I think I’m out of luck. Obviously they have corn and tapioca flour, but nothing that looks like wheat. Then I see a bag with a blue and white label in Portuguese, which I’m pretty sure contains "self-raising" flour. The ingredients are wheat and “rising agent.” The label also announces this product is EMPREGO FERMENTO, which makes me a bit concerned. I buy it anyway, because I have a bowl with butter and eggs and sugar and vanilla already in it sitting on the counter, and tell myself that the recipe I’m using comes from a 1980s ladies auxiliary fund cookbook. It’s probably designed for self-raising flour—bleached self-raising flour even. I run back across the street, meet Cynthia at the door and invite her to open apartment, run upstairs, and finish mixing up the batter. I put the cakes in the oven. I take the cakes out of the oven. They’ve risen in an uneven, wave-like pattern, each cake’s topology an interesting, dynamic arrangement of dips and swells, but they’ve definitely risen. They’re chocolate cakes. Assuming they come out of their pans intact, I’m going to smooth them out by covering them with marmalade and whipped cream with anise in it. Maybe candles.