Office Humor: If IT People Wrote Recipes

I was working on a quick reference card for a new IT project and had an exchange with a colleague on the level of instruction needed.  Me – I like to believe end-users have some basic awareness of technology.  We don’t live in 1994 any longer.  I have confidence in our end-users.  Far too often, IT operations concentrate on not generating help desk calls as opposed to writing things that are basically end user friendly.  This person disagreed (incorrectly) with my thinking.  I used a metaphor of a baking a cake and he seemed to understand my perspective – and hence, this spoof was born.

I pick on IT departments because I work in one.  This is not generally reflective of the company I currently work in – I’ve heard this complaint from a lot of end-users in the Federal Government and private sectors.  Time has come for those of us in the industry to remember that we need to prepare our documentation for the end-users, not in spite of them.

So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I give you: If IT people wrote recipes

Baking a Chocolate Cake – A simple four step process

Before you begin this baking process:  Make sure you have all of the ingredients and that they are still fresh.  Please check all expiration dates.  Also you need to confirm your oven is in good working order (you can use self-help to troubleshoot any hardware issues you may have.)  Reminder:  Ovens of any type are unsupported hardware and repaired only on a best-effort basis.  You will also need to know the altitude that you are cooking at and refer to Quick Reference Guide #427 – Baking Temperatures Conversions Card by Altitude).   Please note that the Help Desk cannot determine your altitude above sea-level – that is your own responsibility.

All utensils and bowls must be clean prior to starting the Mixing Process.  IMPORTANT:  If you have lactose or gluten allergies please check with the help desk before you initiate this recipe to obtain a list of approved substitutes.

Further, the company is not held responsible for any cross-contamination that may occur as a result of improperly cleaned utensils.  Please refer to the self-help portal for proper utensil cleaning processes.  Should you have any allergic reactions, please do not contact local office support – but contact your own personal health care provider.  Note: Support staff do not stock EpiPens, these are personal expense health-care items subject to Company Policy 34-556-HC for reimbursement.

The process flow:

Baking a cake follows this basic flow (Diagram 1A):


Step 1

Refer to the table below for the items necessary to complete the baking (and decorating) of a cake.


Table A – Required Ingredients

Item Unit of Measurement or Notes: Software Hardware
Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate 10 ounces (used for both the cake and for the optional frosting) X
Miracle Whip Dressing 1.5 cups X
Packed brown sugar 2.25 cups X
Vanilla (liquid form – not a bean itself) 1 Tablespoon X
Eggs (Grade A), Source: Chicken (Hen) 3 individual eggs, classified as Grade A, un-cracked, white. X
Baking Soda (Processed sodium bicarbonate) 1.5 Teaspoons X
Salt (Processed sodium chloride) .25 Teaspoons X
Powdered Sugar 3 cups X
Water (boiling – i.e. elevated to the temperature of 100 °C or 212 °F for a sustained period of time) 1 cup X
One conventional non-convection or microwave oven Note:  May be electric or gas powered.  If you are unsure as to the source of heat please refer to the Oven Operations Manual provided by the manufacturer X
A bowls or other sturdy watertight container Two bowls are required.  Three-quarters or more capacity for the entire suite of ingredients above.  Note:  Mixing bowls do not have to be identical (i.e. the same hardware configuration or color pattern.) X
Measuring utensil 1 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil .5 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil .25 cup capacity X
Measuring utensil A teaspoon X
Measuring utensil A tablespoon X
Measuring utensil A whisk or other approved mixing utensil X
Measuring utensil .666 cup capacity X
Apron (for safety) Size varies to the size of the user.  Please exercise caution when selecting the appropriate apron. X
Metallic Cake pans Two – Nine inches in diameter X
Non-flammable Oven mitts Two.  Note: These are not to be confused with flammable oven mitts which are not recommended for this procedure. X
Two toothpicks One is required, the second toothpick is a packup.  Note:  These must be wooden toothpicks, pine preferably. X
Parchment Paper Two-nine inch disks of parchment paper.  Note:  The paper comes in a container where the paper is rectangular and the end-user is responsible for cutting the paper to fit the cake pans.
Knife Butter, non-edged, metallic X
Spoon Metallic (optional) X
Butter or margarine (end-user choice) .25 Cups X
Powdered sugar 3 Cups X
Milk, Source: Cow, Pasteurized .666 Cups X

Once all ingredients have been properly inventoried they should be laid out on a flat clean surface with easy access for the end-user to utilize them.  A good lighting source should be available as well.  “Clean surface” as defined as one that has been fully disinfected and cleansed with company approved cleaning products (full list available on the self-help portal).


Step 2

2.1  Stand before the fully operational oven.  Utilizing the oven heating controls, activate the heating element for your oven to a temperature of 350°F.  Make sure oven door is fully closed before beginning this step.  Overheating or under-heating the hardware can result in a failed cake deployment.

2.2 Melt six ounces of the chocolate as directed on the rear of the package.  Note:  These are outsourced vendor steps provided with the software and the company is not responsible for their changes.  Chocolate, depending on the vendor, may have break-away sections for ounces.  Please select your chocolate vendor with this in mind.   Warning:  Do not attempt to taste unsweetened chocolate – it is not like eating a candy bar in this uninstalled state.

2.3 Carefully measure and pour the dressing, brown sugar, and two tablespoons of vanilla into the bowl.  For those unfamiliar with how to measure using the utensils please consult the Quick Reference Guide to “Measurement – you can do it!” on the self-help portal.  Utilizing the whisk or power mixer, intermix these ingredients until they are of a consistent texture, color, and fluidity.  Slowly rotate the bowl during this process to ensure a consistency with that material which may cling to the edges.  NOTE:  Do not taste the contents of the bowl during this stage of the implementation.

2.4  Take the eggs and gently tap them along the long edge of the egg on the lip or edge of the bowl, one at a time, until a fine crack forms on the outer shell.  Using both hands opposite of the crack, hyperextend the surface of the egg shell and pull apart, forming an apex opposite of the crack.  This should separate the shell into two distinct halves with the contents of the eggs falling out.  Note:  This should be done over the bowl so as to capture the contents into the mixture.

An unsupported and not recommended approach

2.5  Add in the flour, baking soda and salt in the measurements defined the Table A above.

2.6  As per previous instructions above, utilizing the whisk or power mixer, blend these contents together – again aiming for a consistency in color and texture.

2.7  Slowly introduce the melted chocolate into the mixture and continue to mix until the point where the chocolate has been fully drained into the bowl and intermixed with the remaining ingredients.  The approximate pour rate of one ounce of melted chocolate per 45 seconds of stirring.  Estimated overall time for this mixing is 6.25 minutes assuming a whip-rate of 46 beats per minute using a hand-whisk.  If end-users are utilizing a power mixer for this stage of the intermix, please consult the power mixing time ratio conversion chart in the self-help portal.

The final solution of mixed materials is referred to as “batter” and should have a color close to this sample:

Batter Sample Color Comparison Illustration 1:


2.8  Place the cut parchment paper in the bottom of the metallic cake pans.  Please unsure that the paper is placed in the bottom and not the sides or top of the pans as this will prove less-than-effective and may cause a crash of your implementation.

2.9  Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into the two nine-inch metallic cake pans.  It is important that the amount of the mixed contents going into each pan should be nearly the same – or as close as possible.  Failure to get the amounts correctly balanced volume-wise between the two pans can result in inconsistent cooking of the contents and may impact the taste of the final product.

Step 3

3.1  Open the oven door carefully, so as to avoid touching any of the interior metallic surfaces as they are hot.  Reminder:  Heat can damage skin tissue and appropriate caution is recommended during this entire stage of the baking process.  Also items placed in the oven become hot and can damage tissue as well.  If you are unsure of how heat works, please consult the self-help portal.

3.2  Take the two pans and place them on the centermost rack of the oven.  The centermost rack is that rack which is positioned close to the virtual vertical center of the available cooking space; or on the rack on the center setting given the rack guides along the interior sides of the oven.  The pans must be slid in far enough so that the door can be closed without making contact with them.  The pans should not be stacked on top of each other but placed side-by-side horizontally on the rack, allowing for easier access.  Note:  When placing the pans do so in a manner that they are upright, holding the mixed contents, as opposed to upside down where the contents flow out of them and onto the cooking elements or the bottom of the cooking space.

3.3  Close the oven door carefully.

3.4  Set a timer for 30 minutes.  Some ovens come installed with an in-built application and control surface that has a hardware-based timer as part of their configuration.  The use of this timer is recommended for experienced users.  Otherwise another timer (including your smart mobile device) can be used.  It is important to set the timer immediately after the oven pans have been properly placed inside the oven and the door is closed.  If you wait several minutes before starting the timing processes, the cake end-product could be overcooked and inedible.  Note:  It may be easier to set the timer by removing your non-flammable oven mitts.  It is safe to do so at this time.  Please do not discard these reusable assets; retain your oven mitts for use in Step 4 however.  Warning: jarring action on your floor may upset the baking batter and cause the cake to “fall.”  This is deemed to be operator error.  During the baking stage (three) it is recommended that you do not use this time for jarring activities such as jumping jacks, working with a hydraulic lift, slamming doors in the kitchen, bouncing a basketball, etc.  IT cannot be held responsible for fallen cakes due to operator error.

3.5  When the timer goes off, after thirty minutes per step 3.4 above, disengage or disable it using the appropriate keystroke combination.

3.6  Take one of the toothpicks and hold it near one end so that the pick is vertical with the majority of the toothpick pointing downward.  Carefully open the oven door.  Note:  The door and everything in the oven is hot and can harm you if contact is made.  Using one of the nonflammable oven mitts, slide the rack with the cake pans out eight inches.  Using the toothpick as a spear, thrust it gentling into the approximate center of the cake for no more than one second, then extract it (carefully avoiding contact with any metallic surfaces inside of the oven.  Visually inspect the toothpick.  It should come out with none of the mixed batter on it.

3.7  If any quasi-liquid batter is on the toothpick, slide the oven rack back into place and set the timer for two minutes per step 3.4.  Then repeat Steps 3.5 and 3.6 until the toothpick comes out free of batter residue.

3.8  Once the toothpick is removed and is free of residual batter, the toothpick may be discarded.

3.9  Immediately shut off the oven using the power toggle switch or turn the appropriate control.  Please consult your appropriate oven owner’s manual for controls for your specific hardware.

Step 4

4.1  Put on your nonflammable oven mitts and carefully open the oven.  Firmly grasp the sides of one of the cake pans and side it off of the rack, putting it on a nonflammable surface or on top of the stove portion of your oven.  Keep the cakes upright, do not rotate the pans during this stage of the process.  Note:  There should be no more than a one minute time lag between steps 3.9 and 4.1. A timer is not required as this is considered a general guideline.

4.2  Repeat process 4.1 with the second cake pan, putting it near or next to the first pan.  Note:  Proximity between the two pans is not vital during this stage of the process.

4.3  Carefully close the oven door and remove the nonflammable oven mitts.

4.4.  In the second, unused mixing bowl, add the remaining chocolate to the butter.  Place the bowl in a microwave oven.  Close the door.  Set the timer to 1.5 minutes.  When the heating is completed, open the door, remove the bowl, and then close the door to the microwave oven.

4.5  Mix the material in the mixing bowl.  As it cools (3.25 minutes later) add in three cups of powdered sugar from the optional ingredients list along with .666 cups of milk.  Using a spoon or a clean whisk, stir the contents vigorously.  The contents of this bowl are henceforth referred to as the frosting – an optional ingredient for the cake.

4.6  One at time, take the cake pans and gently rotate them on an axis where they are upside down.  Note:  This should be done at a low altitude over a clean surface.  The cakes should come out of the pan.  Important:  Remove the parchment paper.  Then, carefully and gently rotate the cakes back to their original position identical to how they would have been placed in the metallic cake pans.

4.7  Using the knife, you should begin to take small quantities of the frosting and apply it to one of the cakes.  This cake will serve as a the bottom layer of the cake, using accepted nomenclature.  The frosting should be applied to the top and sides so as to prove a film completely and smoothly surrounding the lower cake layer on the top and sides (not on the bottom).

4.8  Take the remaining cake layer and gently place it on top of the frosted cake layer, aligning the edges so that it is vertically symmetrical with the lower layer.

4.9  Repeat step 4.7 on the top layer of the cake.  Extra time should be spent to smooth the sides of the two layers so they appear as a cohesive and merged combination, with the frosting material used to hide any defects or crevasses between the two layers.

4.10  Place the cake in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2.5 hours or more.

Photograph 3:  A cake

A fully installed and deployed cake.  Your results may vary

Post Cooking Activities

5.1  Discard the toothpicks and parchment paper.  While we are a Green company these elements are generally considered non-reusable expendables during this process.

5.2  Any unused hardware should be inventoried and returned the appropriate storage space.  Note:  Placing the hardware in non-traditional or inaccurate space can result in possible fines, levies, and even a modicum of verbal abuse on the part of your spouse or significant other…all fully justified.

5.3  Any unused frosting may be consumed using the applicator-knife.  Note:  If you have blood sugar issues please consult with your physician before consumption of the remains.

5.4  Clean all used hardware utilizing the approved Quick Reference Guide – Maintenance and Cleaning of Household Kitchen Hardware.


At this stage your cake should be fully installed and the frosting implemented. Congratulations.


Important:  The company is not responsible for any weight gains or changes to your BMI as a result of you eating the cake you have created.   Also, any allergies related to food products – i.e. gluten, diary, chocolate, etc. are the responsibility of the end-user to manage and may be contradictory to the materials included in this recipe. Please see the appropriate legal disclaimer on the self-help portal.

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