coco cake cupcakes – feature #5

from the archives: 30.06.09

company: Coco Cake Cupcakes
name: Lyndsay Sung
links: website | blog | facebook | twitter

What do you make?
Nowadays I make baked-from-scratch cupcakes, decorated with a vintage aesthetic that often borders on ridiculously cute. I also sometimes make cakes, and I dabble in ice cream recipes and frozen yogurt too.

What or who inspires you?
Other artist ladies who are doing it for themselves; famous bakers and lovely, well -deisgned bakeshops around the world such as Miette in San Francisco and Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle; my insanely talented group of friends; people with amazing blogs with amazing photos, the kids who I teach art to, because they are so hilarious and make super awesome art. Also, a fat cat sitting in a windowsill always makes me laugh and inspires me to make something cute or funny. I also love vintage baking books and vintage children’s design, from kid’s toys to cute lamps to great patterns.

How did you get started?
My grandma gave me a pink Kitchen Aid for a wedding present. It sat unused for a few months in a cupboard. My husband said, “bring that puppy out! Otherwise you’ll never use it!” I started using it and couldn’t stop. I love it. I started making weird muffins, and trying all sorts of baked recipes. I got obsessed. I read a lot and researched a lot of techniques online and in books, and then tried them all out. Lots of failures and then lots of success! I started a blog for fun, and it’s really exploded with lots of really nice people who read it. Then I did a friend’s wedding in the Fall of 2008 (not very long ago!), then I did the Toque fair at the Western Front at Christmas, and since then it’s been a giant cupcake snowball effect!

What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
Butter. Unsalted butter. Beautiful stuff. Pure vanilla extract, good cocoa powder. I have a zillion frosting tips and fun little tools for creating faces and animals and pretty borders and buttercream roses. I obsessively buy cute cupcake liners. I always draw out my cupcakes or cake before I delve into it, so I have a butter-grease stained and icing-sugar-covered homemade sketchpad of funny drawings of cupcakes and cakes.

What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
The hardest thing for me right now is making a huge mess in my own kitchen that I have to clean up a few times a day, and then make dinner! (though my husband often makes dinner too!) I got really tired of being in the kitchen for a while so I kind of stopped cooking. But now I’m rolling back into it. It’s just part of how I’m working at the moment. I guess another hard part is thinking about my labour and how much time I spend on my cupcakes and cakes. I am working on adjusting my prices to reflect the labour a bit more, but without scaring off customers. My fave part about my baking is the joy people get out of my creations–! When Coco Cake customers get so excited about something I’ve worked hard on, I feel happy for an entire day. And when people send me pictures of their kids or themselves with my cakes and cupcakes with huge smiles on their faces, that makes me SO happy!

List 5 of your favourite links and why you like them
Poppytalk: I love Jan’s design blog “Poppytalk”. It’s a local Vancouver blog but she has readers from everywhere. The design is wonderful, the things she writes about and finds are totally inspiring, from vintage objects to well-designed home décor and beautiful crafts, and Jan is super supportive of Canadian artists and crafters and has a Poppytalk Handmade art market dedicated to artists’ work, letterpress, craft, vintage stuff… She’s just so cool!

My sis, who is a graphic designer, has an awesome blog called “Love Love Letterpress.” She’s been in love with letterpress for a long time, and she seeks out beautiful letter press design and writes about it on her blog, complete with lots of pictures.

Where The Lovely Things Are: Another great blog, collecting art, gorgeous pictures of stylish and interesting clothing that I drool over, well-designed things and vintage items in one nicely designed and sweetly written blog.

Spearmint Baby: I’ve been super into Spearmint Baby lately, which is a blog dedicated to cool finds for kids—kid’s design, cute clothes, vintage toys, objecst for the home, tips, wallpaper, etc. I love vintage children’s design which makes this blog a new favorite of mine. They recently had a post on 1970s kids rooms and I almost died, the rooms were so bonkers and cute. I dunno if my husband would be into decking our place out too majorly in that style. But I can’t wait to deck out a future kid’s room all crazy!!

I read and follow quite a few cake and cupcake blogs too. It’s great to see what’s out there. Everyone is very supportive of each other, which is awesome. I read Cake Spy from Seattle, the Food Librarian, oh man too many to mention. Some have really super-amazing photos, such as Cannelle Vanille; when I see her photos I want to throw my photos in the garbage! Not really though.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
I’m lucky because I have another great job that I like (teaching art to kids) so I don’t fully rely on the monetary unsteadiness of whether or not I have orders every day, although I’m also lucky because since I started baking I do have lots of orders every week, (mostly weekends though, so I can never go out anymore because I have to get up really early!) so this past term I cut down my hours teaching to spend more time baking. I think my advice would be, to just go out there and do it. Try it. Have fun, be courteous, be supportive of others and make something you’re really into. It will show if you’re really into it. Have a fine sense of craftswomanship. I think if you’re already in the biz and you don’t have a blog, you should totally start one. It’s an amazing concept with tons of networking opportunities, ways to make new pals and a fun way to document all the cool stuff you’re producing. I think of myself as a crafty artist. I like to learn new things and techniques and I like to apply them immediately!

Thanks for the interview! I learned a lot about myself from writing this!

(photo images courtesy of Lyndsay / Coco Cake Cupcakes)

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