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Biomedical Communications Alumni Association


On Thursday July 8th at 8pm, BMCAA hosted its second event in the Livestream Series: Joy Qu on Buttercream Succulents. The livestream series spotlights members of our diverse and talented community by inviting them to lead a zoom session on their unique expertise. It has been a wonderful way to share our interests outside of BMC, and spend time together virtually.

Joy Qu (1T3) works as a medical animator for Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery (TVASurg) by day, and runs her own cake business, Cozy Oven, in her free time. Cozy Oven offers gorgeous cakes and cupcakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and any other special event you can think of. Cozy Oven started as a blog where Joy combined her love for baking and photography. After learning how to create buttercream succulents during a class at Le Dolci Bakery in Toronto, she began incorporating flower and plant decorations into her work. Otherwise completely self-taught, her business - official since 2015 - has been a huge success ever since.

She was generous enough to share her process during the livestream, revealing the techniques behind creating beautiful buttercream succulents and how to assemble them onto a cake.

Joy first walked everyone through the tools needed for decorating, including niche tools such as a flower nail and flower lifter. She demonstrated how to properly assemble a piping bag with tips and tip couplers, and introduced the basic types of tips to create flower and plant designs. Joy showed how to create four different succulent forms: pinecone succulent, ball succulent, rose, and three-petaled flower.

Throughout the demonstration, Joy gave tips on how to handle the frosting. Keeping the frosting from getting too warm is important in preventing your buttercream succulents from falling apart and being impossible to work with. Beautiful colour palettes can be made by mixing colours and shades thoughtfully. Further colour patterns, such as gradient and variegated effects, can be achieved by purposefully mixing and preparing piping bags before icing.

Joy then demonstrated how to assemble the buttercream succulents and flowers onto a cupcake, using extra icing to “glue” the buttercream succulents to the cake and fill in empty spots. The overall effect is a beautiful mini garden of icing, in gentle greens and pinks.

At the end of the tutorial, Joy answered audience questions about how to use certain tools, her experience learning the craft, and her process of creating cakes for clients. Those who had followed along and tried to create their own buttercream succulents reported back on their works in progress. Stories included the woes of having used coconut cream for the icing, having one’s flower move farther and farther away on the flower pin as they were icing, admitting that they ended up with a massacre of icing, and one almost-hopeful show and tell of a flower which unfortunately ended with “oh no, I dropped it”.

Everyone learned a lot, and gained a new appreciation for the craft and skill that goes into buttercream decorating. Thanks to Joy for the incredible demonstration, and to everyone who attended. If you followed along with the livestream, we want to see your creations! Post a photo on social media and tag us with #BMCAALive, so we can see and repost your work.

Did you miss the livestream? No worries! You can find a recording here to watch or review Joy’s buttercream succulent making. Be sure to enjoy Joy’s beautiful decorating and baking skill by following her on instagram or ordering from Cozy Oven.

If you would like to host an upcoming livestream and talk about an area of expertise unique to you, please reach out at We would love to feature you!

We will be continuing our livestream series for the foreseeable future, and are planning other virtual events. To stay in the loop and join us for the next one, check for event updates via our Events Page or mailing list (sign up if you haven’t already). Hope we see you at our next event!

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