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Boba Lava Cake

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

I’ve always been into baking but it wasn’t until my friend added me to the Facebook group Subtle Asian Cooking (thanks Hilary) that I found my baking niche. Seeing others recreate childhood foods or Asian fusion foods began my unending list of things to bake.

It so happened that my (boba-loving sister) Phoebe’s birthday was coming up (it was either boba or hot-cheetos). I first saw a small boba lava cake by 85ºC Bakery and Cafe on my Instagram feed. It sparked my usual rabbit hole recipe search process: I look on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas, study Subtle Asian Cooking and Youtube for recipes, then combine everything together. It's just a long-winded way of reassuring myself that I did the research, so if anything goes wrong, it's the recipe.

This was my first boba lava cake. I posted on Subtle Asian Cooking and thought I was going to make it big.

I found this earl grey chiffon cake recipe by Openthepantry, now my go-to recipe person.

During that COVID summer, I was either studying for the LSAT or baking in the kitchen. I had a dream of opening a cafe, so my friends (who thoroughly reviewed my boba lava cake and priced it) reassured me that it is sellable. I sold these cakes informally on my Instagram to live out my cafe dream, but it was a short-lived endeavor before I had to fully focus on my LSAT.

I still doubt: Are my friends just being nice and supportive? Is this worth selling?

And then I did a pop-up at Neat Coffee in Costa Mesa. The point was to fulfill orders all at once before school began. I one-manned baked 30 cakes, designed the packaging, and prepped the table decor. My greatest fear was that no one would show up. I was given the time slot 1:30 - 4:00 PM, but by 2:30 PM I was sold out.

I was SHOCKED by friends who drove from all over Southern California to support me. I’m still learning to pursue my crazy ideas, but a look back at this day reminds me of the people who’d always show up for me.


The Person in Mind

This one is dedicated to my little sister, Phoebe, who always shows up for me at the kitchen (to take care of the food) and at my events. She likes boba, grass jelly, hot cheetos, and unsulfured mangoes from Trader Joe's. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have had a reason to make the famous boba lava cake. We RARELY go out to buy boba, because my dad would say, "This is too expensive. We can make it better & cheaper at home."


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