How Annie’s T Cakes Grabbed the Tiger by the Tail in 2022


The Year of the Tiger, 2022, was a good one for Oakland baker Annie Wang, and she’s now chasing the Rabbit into a new year while catching her breath.

“When I started Annie’s T Cakes in 2020, I could not have imagined all that has happened since,” says the 29-year-old home-based baker of vegan sweets.

“I’ve made cookies for the premiere of Everything Everywhere All at Once, I’ve been featured in amazing publications including Thrillist, SF Chronicle two times, KQED, and now Edible East Bay, and I made it through the busiest mid-autumn season in 2022, juggling orders from individual customers and huge corporations,” she says.

Annie’s T Cakes Mooncakes are in hot demand throughout the lunar new year and beyond.  Photo courtesy of Annie Wang

… Wait … made cookies for the premiere of Everything Everywhere All at Once? If you’ve seen the film, your head is spinning right now just thinking about the wild ride you were taken on. During the week before the film’s San Francisco premiere at the Castro Theater, life was about like that for Annie Wang.

“In every major market that studio A24 premiered the film, they worked with a local baker to make custom smiley face almond cookies like the almond cookie that appears in the movie,” she explains.

But the Annie’s T Cakes rendition had a special distinction. Backstage, one of the film’s directors told Wang that she might have been the only baker at these premieres who had made an actual almond cookie; the others had made sugar cookies. Still, this wasn’t a slam dunk. While the Annie’s T Cakes menu included the baker’s unique vegan reworks of numerous Asian treats—like pineapple cakes and mooncakes—Wang had yet to perfect her version of the almond cookie a week before the event.

“When they asked me if I could make a custom almond cookie, I told them I’d get back to them after the weekend, and I spent Friday night and Saturday just cranking out [test batches]. I had already tried, like, 20 or so times before, to make this cookie, and there was one point when I just gave up. But that week before the premiere, I cranked it out and got a final recipe.”

The Everything Everywhere All at Once order was for 800 cookies.

“The whole next week, every day, I was in the kitchen baking cookies, and then I spent another eight hours packaging cookies,” Annie says. “I packaged maybe 300 by myself and didn’t realize it was 4am. The next day it was me, my boyfriend Jeffrey Lin, and two friends who came over. We had dinner and then they packaged all the rest.”


A career with environmentalism at its heart

Annie Wang teaches a young friend how to make mooncakes. Photo by Tiffany Luong

As a Chinese American with family roots in Beijing, Xinjiang, and Guangdong, Wang grew up adoring the panoply of Asian snacks available at the stores where her family shopped. Taiwanese pineapple cakes were always her favorite.

“It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really understood the cult following the pineapple cakes have and how important they are to Taiwanese people,” says Wang, who would naturally wonder if her vegan reworks of those classics might put off the traditionalists.

“I feel really grateful to have found so many supportive folks in the Taiwanese-American and Chinese-American communities as well as others who have welcomed me into the food space. One of my goals is to expand my offerings to provide plant-based options for foods that folks from all over the Asian diaspora grew up enjoying,” she says.

For Annie, it was a gradual tiptoe into the kitchen.

“The first thing I ever cooked was a scrambled egg in fifth grade when I was home alone and looking for a snack,” she says. “I forgot to oil the pan, so you could say the first go was a fail.”

She dabbled with brownie and cookie mixes but didn’t have a baker as a role model. “Chinese people don’t really use ovens except to store their pots, pans, and some larger kitchen items. Most of my experience in the kitchen was on the stove top via stir-frying, steaming, and boiling. I’d watch my mom cook traditional dishes like egg-tomato with noodles or Xinjiang/Uyghur–style fried rice,” she says.

As a teen, Annie started to cook tea eggs and steamed breads for her family. “I always made my breads and dumplings in weird shapes. Last year my dad told me my dream as a kid was to open a bakery. Honestly, it was news to me since my one fleeting dream was to be a vet. But hey, here we are! Definitely much further than my first failed scramble.”

Moving away from eating meat and animal products didn’t happen all at once, either, she says. “I had this realization that I didn’t need meat to survive and didn’t want to put animals through any suffering.”

Learning about the impact of industrial-scale ranching on the environment confirmed her commitment. “I realized all the reasons I had to be vegetarian directly translated into being vegan. So, the transition to a vegan diet felt like a natural extension of everything I stood for in the years prior.”

As an undergraduate at Georgetown University, Annie Wang pursued coursework on the intersections between the environment and societal food systems and policies. She got involved in a student-led fossil fuel divestment campaign, which finally succeeded in 2020 after she had graduated. “I learned so much from the knowledge and passion of the other student activists. I still draw from the incredible strength and compassion I felt from the student leaders I worked with in those days.”

Stepping toward a career in environmental policy, she worked at a nonprofit in China for a year and thought of going to law school for the credentials she needed to make her way in the field.

“Props to all the lawyers out there,” she says. “But watching my partner go through law school, I quickly realized that it wasn’t the path for me. While I was in China, I learned about the nascent food tech industry being built in the Bay Area and was really interested in the potential for positive climate impact through shifting the food system. When the year was over, I packed my bags and moved to Berkeley and got a job in food tech. To this day, climate impact hugely influences my business decisions, even down to the compostable packaging I use to wrap my products.”

As a part-time writer, Annie Wang continues to work for companies involved in environmental work, but she’s quite devoted to Annie’s T Cakes and the world of small-scale food crafting she’s a part of. She counts baker/entrepreneurs Alicia Wong and Alex Issvoran of Oakland Fortune Factory among her friends and business confidants, and she’s tight with college friend Caroline Cotto, co-founder of Renewal Mill, the Oakland company that upcycles an otherwise wasted byproduct of tofu manufacturing to produce okara, a baking flour that Wang uses in many of her Annie’s T Cakes products. She’s also among a generation of makers embracing their heritage to bring more of their favorite foods into the mainstream.

“I’m seeing, especially, a lot of fusion baked goods pop up around the country,” she says. “It’s especially heartwarming to see many women starting food businesses as well as more folks actively seeking plant-based options.” ♦