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What’s feminism got to do with cake?

A new magazine explores gender, pop culture and literature through the lens of bakeries, tres leches and aphrodisiac mousse

(From left) The magazine's proof; an illustration in Sexy Cake (Courtesy: and @thejackfruitslayer, Instagram) 
(From left) The magazine's proof; an illustration in Sexy Cake (Courtesy: and @thejackfruitslayer, Instagram) 

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It’s hard to not be enamoured by the captivating power of cake. In the pandemic, social media went bonkers over banana bread, reels of piñata cake increased dopamine levels and mug cake recipes became a viral sensation. What does it say about human behaviour? How do cakes represent pop culture? Why do we love cake—apart from the sugar rush it gives us?

A new magazine Cake Zine, set to release this month, asks these critical questions through essays, poems and illustrations. It’s conceptualised by US-based baker Tanya Bush and independent writer Aliza Abarbanel. Their first issue named Sexy Cakes has an index of stories with cleverly crafted headlines like The New Era of Erotic Bakeries, Better Than (Bad) Sex Cake and a poem titled Recipe for a Nude, among others.

In a Vogue UK interview, titled Why Are We So Into Unusual Cakes? Ask The Creators Of This New Zine, Bush shared, “cake has enormous symbolic power in culture and ritual and art.”

It’s hard to disagree with her. Cake shops in your city are one of the surest giveaways of affluence. Artisanal bakeries with cake slices priced at no less than 250 belong to areas with the highest rents. In India, there are YouTube videos about pressure cooker cakes signifying that pressure cookers are intrinsic to our kitchens. Moving on from homemade cakes, it is common knowledge among bakers that elaborate fondant cakes are ordered for photos, and not so much for consumption. In the age of Instagram, this phenomena is hardly surprising.

Cake Zine is a self-funded publishing venture and goes beyond what’s curated on social media. Abarbanel shared with Vogue UK they “started by combing through these old cookbooks and seeing that food and sex were often linked as a formula for male seduction.” And, went on to say the zine has a recipe by her “that sort of centres the sensuality of the act of baking, but it’s doing so in a masturbatory way, rather than for a man’s pleasure.” With stories like these, the founders are diving deeper to interpret the pleasure of making and eating cake.

Their next issue, Bush revealed in the interview, focuses on the darker side and is named Wicked Cake. She ‘hopes’ to release it in autumn. After all, a slice of cake is not only about peaches and (butter) cream.

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