I made 150 prettily swirled wedding cupcakes last weekend. It had been a long while since I did a larger order of cupcakes but it was satisfying cranking them out, and frosting each with a buttery-sweet perfect swirl.
Marriage – it’s a wild roller coaster ride. I don’t know anyone, my parents included, who have had it super easy. Which is why when someone asked me the other day “what is the key to a happy marriage?” I both laughed and cried inside. I responded that the key is that it’s not always happy. Yes, there are many moments of bliss, laughter, closeness, love. But then everyday life gets in the way. That’s why they say all that stuff about in sickness and health, for better for worse, in good times and bad – those vows are gettin’ y’all ready for LIFE TOGETHER.
So to that person who asked, I said: Listen to each other. Kiss, hug and hold hands – show physical affection. Laugh hysterically together, do things together that you enjoy as a couple. Do things they like simply because you love them, and ask for that in return. It’s give and take. Communicate feelings and take time to listen to your partner. You’re both going to screw up a few times, whether those screw-ups are small or large. Be forgiving, if you’re able. Marriages that look perfect on the outside (or on the internet and blogs) are guaranteed far from perfect. Oh, and when kiddos comes along – make sure you plan nights to yourselves! Pay a babysitter or get an in-law to come over.
Yeah. If only life was as simple, beautiful and perfect as a dark chocolate cupcake… ! Got any marriage or relationship tips you’d like to share? I’m all ears. xo Lyndsay
It’s no secret that I’m an insaneo nutter butter when it comes to cake photography. It’s my medium to large obsession – I fall deep in love with beautiful photos of cakes. I’ll share with you here a few of my own cake photography tips, whether you have the fanciest camera ever or are working with a smart phone.
One of my favourite (NERDY) parts about making cakes is getting to document them in a way that makes them look inviting, fun and differentiates them a bit from the pack.
My own cake photography step by step can be broken down like so:
1. I start with a plain minimalist setting. (White table, white backdrop – or paper backdrop, or find a wall or room in your house you like)
2. I shoot with natural light. (I use my kitchen windows most.)
3. I jazz it up with some stuff. (Props! I have a mild to medium collection of jimmy-jam type items – tarnished old teaspoons, vintage tea set, wooden blocks, cake stands galore. Fruit, flowers and foliage count as props, too!)
4. Shoot and frame to your eye/liking. (Angles, framing of the image, snap away – I shoot loads then edit to what I think looks nice).
I think a cake looks much more interesting when there’s a little something extra going in the pic. That’s where “styling” comes in. I have a very precise and professional method of styling my cakes which I will share with you here: I throw stuff down. SLAM it down sometimes. Raspberry, weird antiquey spoon, a handful of chocolate bits – I sprinkle things down like they’re raining down from props heaven. I am a fan of minimalist-meets-mess – I love an imperfect smear of berry juice or a half eaten piece of cake (yeah, I ate that.) I like to include a piping bag here and there too. Once I’ve added a light sprinkling of whatever props I’m going to use, I’ll adjust the spacing between the items until it satisfies me.
See those pink forks and blue straws? Let it RAIN, props!
Everyone loves a single chopstick to eat cake.
Pretty flowers from your garden? Snip and scatter!
I die a little of cuteness and pain when I send an animal cake out the door. My precious animal cakes, lovingly frosted and piped, ahhh they’re like my own little animal shelter of dogs, cats, owls, red pandas, gorillas … hehe! What’s better than an animal cake? A table full of ‘em – colourful, adorable, the happiest setting ever.
The white feathery owl cake pictured here was made for the Powell Street Festival lotto winner – this year it went to a cute family who brought it to their KARATE CLASS. To this I say: FIND SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE AND THEN EAT SOME CAKE! Hooray! I love the idea of sweaty kids in their starched white karategi sitting around a mat enjoying a slice of well-earned owl cake. CUTE!
On another note… It’s my birthday coming up in November so I’m trying to decide what to make! Last year I made this rainbow cat cake… I’m looking for suggestions for this year, guys! Rated G only – hehe! (No peen cakes allowed)! xo Lyndsay
Alright cake maniacs. Are you ready to have your mind blown into laser-light-show Led Zeppelin rainbow space dust? I’m so pumped to have Katherine Sabbath as my first interview on my new series Sugar Crush.
I first “met” the gorgeous and inter-gallactically talented Katherine Sabbath (her name is so deeply head bangingly thrashingly METAL) through Instagram last year and I’m so excited to share her beautiful work. When I came across her feed, i nearly died. Her feed absolutely explodes with vivid colour and energy, all in the form of her fantastical cake and dessert creations. Her positive energy is contagious and I’ve enjoyed becoming online cake pals with this rainbow-bright star!
Kat is immensely talented at what she does – she is both a high school teacher, which I just love – how cool would it be to have her as your geography teacher? I can only imagine all the students she’s inspired – AND she’s a master of cakes. She is also the sweetest, most positive and friendly woman (possibly the coolest person in Australia!? Ha!). Her cake style and originality is unmatched – imagine cross-breeding a million rainbows, three unicorns, sparkly gold medallions, the moon and several stars with an Olympic swimming pool crammed with sugar, sprinkles, chocolate and caramel, and forming it all into artfully stylized, sculptural-looking cake creations.
She calls this one a UNICORN CHEESCAKE. From Kat: “It’s made up of layers of vanilla bean, pistachio & raspberry rainbow cheesecake on an Oreo crust, topped with butterscotch frosting & adorned with my intergalactic chocolate, unicorn pyramids, chocolate pearls, musk dust & edible confetti.”
You really can’t help but smile and/or drop your jaw at her creations. The colours, textures, drips and flavours are so inspiring. So here she is: the rippingly cool Kat! Her cakes and desserts seem like an extension of herself: madly creative, bursting with colour, DROP DEAD GORGE and a defined aesthetic.
COCO CAKE LAND: What is your name, occupation, and where are you from?
KATHERINE SABBATH: Hello! My name is Katherine Sabbath and I am a High School Teacher (History, Geography, English, and Commerce) from Sydney, Australia. I’m also an after-hours “dessert-aholic!”
Katherine, not only are the cakes and desserts you make full of this brilliantly vibrant, exuberant energy, but they also each have such a playful, colourful and sculptural feel. What inspires your creations?
Oh shucks, thank you so very much. To be honest – absolutely everything! Inspiration can come from the confectionary aisle of a local supermarket, the colour palette of a friend’s dress, or the natural beauty and architecture of our astounding environment. More often than usual though, I bake according to the flavours and textures I feel like eating at the time…Which is actually almost anything! I’ve always loved experimenting with art and drew a lot whilst I was growing up. I think transferring this child-like creativity into my baking was just a natural extension!
Did you always love baking and desserts? When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I certainly always enjoyed eating them! As a child, I always loved art and creating things – you’d normally find me sitting quietly, building a city made out of Lego or making funny objects with Playdough, probably humming a breakfast cereal jingle I heard earlier that morning on TV. It sounds ridiculous to me now but when I was little, I desperately wanted to be a ballerina and practised every day! Haha, to put this into context, I had really big ears, suffered from curvature of the spine, had a nasty speech-impediment, and pranced about on two seriously massive feet. Look, I was a modern-day Helen of Troy!
Who are some of your favourite bands and music? Favourite films, and visual artists? I feel like culture and the world around you plays a part in your creations, whether subconsciously or not …
My all-time favourite band is Nine Inch Nails and they’ve played as the soundtrack to my life for the last 14 years now. I will never, ever tire of their extraordinary music and Trent Reznor’s smooth, honeyed voice! I’m also an enormous fan of metal music (black metal to be specific) and enjoy the work of Enslaved, Immortal, Gojira, and Opeth. My favourite classics are ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), Queen, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and Gary Numan! My favourite movies are Kill Bill and Zoolander – it’s a nice mix, I know! As for visual artisits, I’m a lover of post-modernist, surrealist as well as classical art.
How deeply do your students freak out when you bring your cakes to school??
They bully me in the playground for cake…Every single day, haha!
Do you see yourself moving towards baking in the future as a profession, or will it continue to be a hobby?
I would absolutely love to continue baking and possibly take it to an even greater scale in the future (with my eyes set on a website, cookbook and who knows, maybe even a television show?!) but for now I’m very passionate about high school teaching and so I’m riding the cake wave as it comes!
What are your favourite foods? What would your last meal on Earth be?
My favourite type of foods would have to be either Italian or Mexican – I LOVE pizza and how amazing are tacos?! Is there such a thing as a taco pizza or a pizza taco? If so, someone give me its number so I can take it out on date night. My last meal on Earth would be either of these things, followed by a vast array of desserts – I’m talking salted caramel, hot chocolate fudge, chocolate mousse, peanut butter-frosted monstrosities!
Who are some of your other favourite creators, and their blogs or Instagrams? (doesn’t have to be cake related!)
I absolutely love Antonio Bachour for his breath-taking and masterful desserts as well as gorgeous plating techniques, Caroline from Nectar & Stone (Instagram: @nectarandstone) for her very stylish images and feminine approach to her work, and of course Coco Cake Land! I’ve been a big fan of yours Lyndsay for two years now and you continue to be such an inspiration! I love your eye for ‘impact’ in your cakes and the wonderful way in which you support other creatives – we need more proactive people like you in the community!
(DEEPLY FLATTERED!! Kat made her version of my mutant bunny cake for her little cousin’s birthday this year! I pretty much died of cuteness when I saw it.)
Hope you guys all enjoyed my first Sugar Crush interview with Katherine Sabbath – follow her bonkers amazing feed on Instagram! So many excellent things to come for you, Kat! Thanks so much for taking the time! xo Lyndsay
I love this wacky wild weirdo pink raspberry birthday party cake I made to celebrate my dear sister’s 40th birthday! Sister looks like she’s 27 so it’s all good. Not that there’s a damn thing wrong with looking “older.” It’s going to happen to every one of us! Silvery grey hairs that poke out like annoying little wires, smile lines and little freckly spots showing up seemingly overnight. A photograph that betrays a face one thought was young with just a touch of piggy jowly-ness. A little more junk in the trunk that is impossible to shed away, moon pock marks on thighs and butts, hands looking suddenly weary and vein-covered. Welcome to the body of an older woman, people! Except my sister. Dang woman is fit as a fiddle, sweats it up at power yoga and can do a full on HANDSTAND. She’s amazing, beautiful, strong as buckets and buckets of steel, an incredible mom, bright as the most colourful star – and a wonderful sister to me.
So here it is: A wacky yet simple and let’s even say simply magical pink birthday cake tutorial for ya.
You will need:
A two or three layer baked and cooled round cake. I tinted my vanilla cake pink and studded the cake batter with fresh raspberries.
4 cups of vanilla buttercream, tinted pink with a touch of pink gel food colouring
An offset spatula to crumb croat and frost your cake
A piping bag fitted with an open star tip
A bar of white chocolate (or any thin, high quality bar that will break into triangular shards)
Fresh raspberries for decor
Start with a triple layer cake. I made a vanilla cake tinted light pink and studded the cake batter with fresh raspberries.
Frost, fill and smooth your cake like the cake nerd you are. I used a light pink vanilla buttercream to frost my cake. Check out this post on how to frost a cake if you need to brush up!
After you’ve frosted your cake to the final coat, tint the remaining buttercream a darker shade of pink, or a contrast colour like mint green. I like the darker shade of pink simply because you can easily just add some more pink gel colour to your already-made pink buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 4B tip to make this cute shell border. Simply “pipe out and pull” to make a shell with a tail-like shape. Pipe the next shell on top of the “tail” and so-on and so-forth until you’ve made an entire border.
Take it to the top! Here is where the decorating fun begins. I went kind of random-zone on the top, except I tend to anally place my decorative objects and piped blobettes with the same amount of space in between everything. Sort of a random-yet-even vibe.
I used fresh raspberries and this Lindt White Strawberry Excellence bar as well as piped buttercream blobettes for the decoration. I broke the pieces into their natural squares and then broke triangle pieces off of the squares!
I was going for a shard-y playful and fun Katherine Sabbath vibe with this cake! Speaking of which – I have an interview with her coming up on this here blog! Woot! Part of a new interview series on Coco Cake Land where I interview some pretty sweet people in the cake, pastry and/or creative world. STOKED.
I piped some blobettes larger than others, and even placed a raspberry on top of a few – you get the idea.
A view from the top! If a bird flew over this cake right now, it would swoop down and eat a raspberry. If it was a seagull, it would swoop down for the white chocolate pieces. Or the chocolate bar wrapper. Damn scavengers.
I made this cool times hand stamped birthday cake sign too – I just love my mini alphabet letter stamp set. Sigh. I really can’t believe my sister is 40. That means I’m up next in a few short years – my two older sisters are both in their 40s now! Eeks. I don’t get it, Father Time. I can still see us playing and romping around at our beloved childhood home, black bowl-cut little turd brats, knocking over each other’s Lego houses and fighting over the Barbie wedding dress, eating seaweed gummy bears but dreaming of grape soda (my mom was a health nut). Time is going by a little too fast these days, guys – don’t you think? Happy happy 40th birthday to my beloved sis Shelley! May your 40th and beyond be filled with happiness. xo Lyndsay
We spent the month of September on a little family adventure – we moved to the rural town of Grand Forks, British Columbia for the month, where Rich was working at the hospital as part of his 4th year rural elective. Grand Forks is a six hour drive from Vancouver, BC – you go through mountainous ranges, fruit orchards, vegetable farms, a desert-hot lake town and many other tiny communities before you end up at Grand Forks.
We stopped at Mariposa Farm in Keremeos, BC! Squash and gourds abound!
I love hand painted signs! Especially ones that alert the world to HOT DOGS. What a delightfully puffy, chuckles and giggles font! I would have put at least seven packets worth of ketchup on this dog, though. Sadly the real dogs were a little more on the shrivelled-wiener, slow-twirling for possibly a fortnight vibe.
We scored big time with a gorgeous house rental in Christina Lake, BC – about 15 minutes from Grand Forks. Hooray for Airbnb for being so ruling!
Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling / possible Hunchback of Notre Dame pose in front of clear, beautiful Christina Lake. We kind of had an extra month of summer because I think it only rained twice while we were there.
The Bargain! Shop in Grand Forks.
I found the sweetest teen babysitter while we were there! She played with Teddy while I managed to get a few cake photoshoots done, like this coffee cake recipe.
Lots of pretty hiking opportunities! So peaceful and quiet.
I was missing my all-white cake photo set-up after a while, but I also got into the whole rustic photo styling thing too. Tart plum and blueberry crisp with vanilla ice cream. Photo taken on the outside deck.
We drove to the nearby town of Rock Creek for the Rock Creek Fall Fair! Community fairs hold the dearest place in my heart – behold THIS old post on the Saanich Fair.
They even have Hawaiian style shave ice there! DREAM!!!
Digging through the cookware in the rental house for some props. This scraped and beaten up old baking sheet was fun! LEVITATING CONE!
Tastie Treat – going ice cream strong for over 50 years! Seriously delicious and creamy soft serve ice cream cone. The whole business is for sale, too! Of course I thought about it and daydreamed about buying it. But it’s not the right one for me.
I’ll have the one on the far right, please. FILL ‘ER UP!
Sheila Burgers! Who is this mysterious Sheila? Could she be making my cone right now??
I scored at a thrift store in Grand Forks – this adorable 1972 world globe lamp. Works like a charm, $15!
The two things I’m obsessed with when it comes to small towns: the Chinese restaurants, and the ice cream shops. Okay, and the movie theatres. This joint was in Rossland, BC – a wide variety of Asian delights to be enjoyed here, and a new busboy waiting outside!
Hiking in the trees! Serenity zone.
My wonderful parents made the trip to Grand Forks, too! Hanging out with T-bird. Their visit mixed with Teddy and I bumped the Asian population in Grand Forks about 100%! Three of our good friends traveled to visit us, too – it was so nice to have visitors!
Our entire last week, I kept saying “I don’t want to go home!” I had gotten used to the quiet evenings, rural landscape and friendly community. I was dreading being back in the city. The first few days back I could feel the knots and tightness reforming in my neck and shoulders, as each car honk, road rager or loud siren chipped away at the peacefulness I had built up. I like the idea of the small town – choices are limited, so you make do with what you have. We brought two carloads worth of belongings, and still only used half of what we brought – I wore the same two outfits every day! We were happy and content to be with each other, exploring, enjoying our time away and taking things much, much slower. Grand Forks, BC – their motto is “settle down.” It’s not a bad notion at all. xo Lyndsay
My sweet and talented photographer pal Jeanie celebrated her awesome husky pup’s 1st birthday in August and she asked me to make a cake in his likeness! Man I fiddled with his husky dog cake face for quite a while and finally settled on going for a cartoony look which I think turned out pretty darn woofin’ cute.
Have you ever loved a pet like it was the furry child from your own womb? It’s a real emotion and it’s something that only other pet owners understand – those little pals become your constants, your best friends, your always-there comfort. Even with all the room-clearing gas and occasional barfs and poo-picking-up and furniture-ruining, the love for them persists. My heart still aches for my sweet old cat Coco, who I had to put down in 2007. Yep – I named my cake business after my old cat, a feisty little orange-haired jerk with fluffy fur pants who was possibly insane, but she loved me and I loved her. When I had to put her down after a long illness, I sobbed into her fur telling her it would be ok, and then suddenly her little life was gone – it was like hugging a stuffed animal and it was so surreal and sad. When we finally drove home from the vet, empty-handed, cat carrier without cat, the house felt so eerie and hollow without her scampering around, those little paws pattering about or her annoying gunk-gunk-gunk scratching under my bedroom door to try to get in, Jack Nicholson in The Shining style. A little while after she passed I had a tiny memorial party at my house with close friends. I made a slideshow with pictures of her set to Brenton Wood’s Oogum Boogum (I used to call her Boogie) and the Mamas and the Papas “Dedicated To The One I Love” and just sobbed. I think having a weird little funeral for her helped me grieve though. I still miss that little barfmaster and hearing those songs again makes my heart hurt a little…
So yes – I’ve suffered a few broken hearts over the years from pets loved and lost. Today, with this husky dog cake, I’m celebrating the love of pets – and also remembering another animal that just passed away – my brother-in-law’s giant fluffball malamute named Zeke. Here’s to all those nutty animals that help us get through life.