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Cakes That Take the Cake

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 12:26
The fantastical cake creations of Lizz Cohen, a 2007 graduate of East Hampton High School, are gaining popularity here. 
Christine Sampson

Some artists rely on paint, paper, canvas, and clay to make their art. Lizz Cohen’s medium is cake. Forget gallery exhibitions and silent auctions — her work is often the centerpiece of children’s birthday parties, weddings, and other special occasions.

Take one look at her Instagram, @LizzysLittleBakeShoppe, and you’ll understand why her baking business is on the rise (pun intended). The bigger and more elaborate the edible assignment, the more it excites her.

Formerly the catering manager at the Seafood Shop, Ms. Cohen, also a 2007 graduate of East Hampton High School, is now baking full time — or as many hours a week as her two children, Violet, 8, and Jack, 3, will let her get away with.

“I love being able to do what I really love,” she said. “Catering was great, money-wise, but there’s nothing that compares to being able to use your creativity and artistic talent in something that people want to purchase.”

Her favorite part of baking cakes professionally is “being a part of everybody’s celebrations,” she said. “I’ve been making some of these kids’ cakes now for three or four years. It’s all happy occasions.”

Yes, these elaborate designs by Ms. Cohen are edible. Lizzy’s Little Bake Shop Photos

 

They’re not all unicorns, rainbows, Spider-Man, and Paw Patrol, though. There was that one plague-themed Passover cake she made, complete with fondant cicadas. Then there was one that looked like a pizza, and another that looked like a giant, realistic cheeseburger. “I love to watch that Netflix show ‘Is It Cake?’ “ Ms. Cohen said. “I’d love to practice that some more. It’s fun, but it’s a challenge, and I can’t say ‘no’ to a challenge.”

She offers cakes and cupcakes in standard flavors — chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot — but takes custom orders as well. She also has a special printer that uses edible ink to print on edible icing, so virtually any design and theme is possible. She has even incorporated fresh flowers into wedding cakes, which is especially trendy these days. Typically, one to two weeks’ advance notice is ideal for a special order.

Ms. Cohen started out after high school at Five Towns College, majoring in education while working at the Montauk Childcare Center. She soon realized that she wanted to be a mother herself, and began to seek out a different career path.

Feeling inspired by her great-grandmother Janet Norton, who helped her learn about cooking and baking from a very early age, and by her mother, Rhonda Daniels, who bakes for Bostwick’s and Bonfire Coffeehouse, Ms. Cohen decided to attend the Suffolk Community College culinary arts program.

“Our family always gathered in the kitchen, as a lot do, and we’d sit together around the table snapping green beans, shucking corn, peeling potatoes, whatever we were going to be eating,” she recalled.

She shifted from catering to baking during the pandemic, first putting word of her availability out through friends and family members. Soon she was getting calls from friends of friends, and then from people she wasn’t connected to at all.

Ms. Cohen is also the official donor of birthday cakes for Hamptons Community Outreach, which provides dream-like birthday parties for underprivileged children in addition to feeding the homeless and doing critical renovations for people who can’t afford house repairs. Marit Molin, the founder of Hamptons Community Outreach, said Ms. Cohen has a kind and generous spirit in addition to talent in the kitchen.

“The children love the cakes, and they’re absolutely beautiful,” Ms. Molin said. “We need all the help that we can get, and she always steps up to help.”

Ms. Cohen aspires to have a commercial space sometime soon, where she can bake for wholesale and take her business to the next level.

On the front door of her house in East Hampton is a cheerful sign that her mother-in-law picked out. It reads, “The joy is in the journey,” and it’s something that resonates with Ms. Cohen, too.

“When it’s all done and I step back and look at the cake, I get this rush of adrenaline,” she said. “I’m proud of what I accomplished, and that to me is better than any other job I’ve had.”

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