A Vancouverite through and through (with a bit of Burnaby mixed in for good measure), Lyndsay Sung is taking the baking world by storm with her grin-inducing Coco Cake Land creations (nearly 100,000 Instagram followers can’t be wrong!). We caught up with this self-taught cook (a gifted pink KitchenAid stand mixer sparked her passion) to chat all things layered, frosted and iced! —Noa Nichol
How did you "fall" into baking?
There are so many things about baking and cooking that are still a mystery to me; there is so much to learn and try out and experiment with. It’s fun trying to make things taste good and flavourful. I have my main Instagram account @cococakeland but I also have a funny little “side” Instagram, too, which is kind of easy-simple-meal-ideas based—it’s called @snackblaster (I didn’t think too hard on the name, clearly!). I love the satisfaction of baking: simple ingredients such as flour and sugar going from cake rounds cooled from the oven, then stacked and frosted to become something finished-looking, like a cat cake!
What do you consider to be your very first Coco Cake Land cake?
I was only just “Coco Cake” until I joined Instagram in 2013. Then I threw the “land” on there—I think I loved the idea of this magical fantasy land of colour, happiness, jokes and cakes. There are definitely some very cute and weird animals that live in Coco Cake Land. I would say that my cake based on Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar could be defined as the first official cake of Coco Cake Land, because it was a good example of how my current cake esthetic sort of synergized into the things I love: cuteness, old-school buttercream piping, children’s illustration, colour and the minimal use of fondant.
What makes your baked creations different?
I’ve been told I have a very specific esthetic that can be spotted a mile away—which I think is a combination of my love of bright colours, cute faces, modern takes on buttercream piping in varied uses (for example, using the grass piping tip to pipe “fur”) and clean, finished design! I’m very attached to my animal cake designs and “modern” floral cakes, both which have become my “signature” look. I also love making added crafts, like cake flags and stamped letter birthday messages on my cakes. These have become part of my “cake look” as well. Also, this might be an Asian thing, but my cakes and especially my frosting recipes in my book are way less sweet than a typical recipe you might find.
Does Vancouver inspire you in any way?
I think the art and design and baking community in Vancouver inspires me—also, the availability of super-cute animal faces in Asian shopping malls around here! I love finding a cute face on a Japanese character stuffie and finding a way to translate that onto a cake. I love fashion, too; colours inspire me, and texture. I’ve always been a nostalgic person, so I love looking through old cake and baking books from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s for buttercream piping ideas or random vintage colour inspiration.
Tell us a bit about your breast cancer cakes.
While I was going through breast cancer treatment in 2015, I felt like I wanted to express how I was feeling through cake, but I wasn’t quite sure how. I was woken up in the middle of the night by an idea, and I quickly wrote it down, and felt an urgency to make it the very next day. I made cakes in the shape of breasts showing the various stages of my treatment, from surgery to chemo to radiation, along with an essay on what it had been like to go through breast cancer treatment. I put it on my blog, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Your favourite cake flavour? Your personal motto?
Chocolate and peanut butter anything but, also, carrot cake! I try to stay mindful of the good moments, enjoy my time here and spend it with the people who are most important to me!
Pie is considered traditional Christmas fare, but what do you suggest in terms of cake for a holiday dessert?
I like pies with non-traditional crusts, such as an oatmeal cookie crust or graham cracker crust; sometimes an all-butter pie crust can feel too rich. I think yule log cakes (buche de noel) are the cutest things ever, jazzed up with meringue mushrooms and woodland characters and piped leaves. That’s what I’m going to try making this holiday season!
Win! 1 of 4 Coco Cake Land Cookbooks!
We have four winners! Congratulations Christine M. of Winnipeg, Melissa F. of Kingston, Angela L. of Vancouver and Kaley D. of Oakville, each of whom won a copy of Coco Cake Land by Lyndsay Sung!