It was 3am on Wednesday and Kate couldn't sleep, too anxious about the coronavirus pandemic. But instead of just lying in bed at home in Sydney, Australia, and ruminating, she thought she would try and relax with her favourite hobby: cake making.
Specifically, the amateur cake decorator decided to channel her anxiety about the current moment into designing a cake that looked like a toilet roll — a product panic-bought by people around the world as the coronavirus has spread.
Kate, who posts pictures of her cakes on her Instagram @rarerollingobject, told BuzzFeed News she had seen others make toilet paper cakes but wasn't put off by that.
"A billion people were tagging me in toilet paper cakes on Facebook saying that I could make a better one," she said.
So she did. Once she finished her masterpiece, her husband shared pictures of it on Twitter where it quickly went viral.
He quickly followed up with another tweet apologising — he had forgotten to tag Kate in his first post.
Kate thinks the intense interest in her latest design comes from the general obsession with toilet paper — which puzzles her.
"I had been thinking a lot about how distressing it is that for some of our most vulnerable people, a basic like TP has been catapulted out of reach," she said in a message. "Plus I just wanted to see if I could make edible fondant fabric look more tissue-like."
It's not the first time Kate's cakes have gone viral — it happened last year with a Harry Potter–themed cake with a floating Golden Snitch decoration.
She said the Potter cake is the one she is most proud of, because of the impact it had. "I gave it to Stewart House, a respite centre for disadvantaged kids. And they were sooooo thrilled," she said.
"So it helps other people to see cakes, let alone eat them, which in turn helps me balance stress and stay positive."
She's noticed a spike in interest in baking and cake designing as the coronavirus has spread and more people have gone into lockdown. Stores have reported selling out of yeast and flour — proof, according to Kate, that we are in a "home baking renaissance".
"It’s a combination of procrasti-baking, seeking comfort in delicious and homey things, but also I think it’s a way for people to feel like they’re in control of something, when everything else feels so outside our personal control right now," she said.
Her next project is a cake in the design of a ginkgo tree. "I've been dreaming about seeing the ginkgo trees of Japan and Korea again soon. That's my quarantine cake," she wrote. "To bring the world a bit closer since actual travel is out of the question for the foreseeable future."
And what happened to the toilet roll cake?
"I gave it away to a friend to eat. I don't eat cake," she said.