A new dimension to cake art

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Cake is a simple staple that leaves endless room for innovation, and 3D jelly art cakes are masterpieces of the scene with their rich colours, floral designs and three dimensional effects that make them almost too beautiful to eat.

Career woman Jasmin binti Ahmad began her journey in the 3D jelly art cakes business four years ago after attending classes taught by chefs from Taiwan and Australia in Singapore. Since then, she received an overwhelming response from women of all ages.

“I would say that my jelly art cakes are still quite rare in Brunei. It is something different, unique and most importantly healthy,” she said. “Just like the flowers I create, I realised this is a blooming business. I received orders for weddings, engagement ceremonies, VIP guests and more. It feels amazing to be part of their special occasions.

“The way these cakes are made is interesting as it involves injection methods. It might look like it’s difficult because we inject colour from the bottom to the top, essentially creating the cake upside down.”

In making a 3D jelly art cakes, she explained that a perfect clear cake base needs to be made by combining pure water, coconut juice and gelatin. She later pointed out that she needed to let the base set (harden) first and prepare her coloured jelly. The jelly must remain on a warm stove to keep them in liquid form.

Jasmin binti Ahmad’s jelly art cakes. PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI
Jasmin binti Ahmad injects coloured jelly to create designs

Next is the most important stage in making a 3D jelly cake – the molding process. The cream-coloured jelly is injected into the clear jelly to create the design, which usually comes in the form of blooming flowers such as hydrangeas, tulips, daisies, sunflowers, carnations, cherry blossoms, roses and many more. She uses different tools to mimic different flowers petals and other tools like syringes.

“Everything has to be created in reverse. The petals of the flowers will be created first, working to the base of the flower last. Everything is layered one petal at a time,” she said. “It is time consuming. It will take me around two hours to make the big-sized one and 30 to 45 minutes for the smaller ones. But still, it depends on the complexity of the flowers,” she said.

Once the work of art is done, she will add the final coloured layer to the base of the cake to seal the patterns inside. The jelly must harden again before it can be flipped over to reveal the masterpiece she created.

For her ingredients, Jasmin said she uses a type of seaweed jelly powder ordered from Vietnam. According to Jasmin, her ingredients are 100 per cent Halal as they are all natural and organic. “Traditionally, the different colours used in the jelly cake come from natural ingredients. I use organic food colouring all the time. I would say that my jelly cakes are healthy too because I do not use much sugar in them and the flavours usually come from the sweetness of the fruits. “It comes in few flavours such as blackcurrant, strawberries, mango and santan,” she said.

When asked how she balances her work and her time with baking, she said she often bakes during the weekend, which usually starts after work on Thursday.

“There are times I cannot cope and I have to turn down orders. I can do more during the weekends but other days are hard because I am working. I am always busy during the weekend, swamped with so many orders,” she laughed.

For Jasmin, being able to bake helps her relax and unwind, like a form of therapy for her that keeps her fulfilled and energised. However, one of the challenges for her in carrying out her business would be managing it from the beginning to the end.

“One of the hardest for me would be doing it all on my own from making the base, injecting and the final layer,” she shared. “Another one would be when the jelly breaks. That creates a lot of problems as it would either mean I have to start all over again or try to fix it. I also do not accept last minute orders even though I am free during the requested day because the base needs to harden for at least a day before I can start with the injection method.”

While her business is thriving with her 3D jelly art cakes, Jasmin admitted that she still loves to bake traditional kueh (cakes) such as kusoi, seri muka, bingka ubi, onde-onde and others.

“I like to do more traditional cakes rather than the modified modern ones,” she said. “I just like to make and bake the classic ones – the ones our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers used to make. I want the younger generation to know more of our traditional kueh and not let it diminish.

“Other types of kueh I learnt from outside,” she continued. “I will try to master it and come back with more baking knowledge and experience.

“I do marble cakes. I know anyone can do marble cakes but mine is a rich butter marble cake, like the British-style ones. I mastered it from a chef from Taiwan. I’ve also learnt how to make rich butter cake that I learnt from a renowned Australian pastry chef.”

Asked if she plans to conduct classes for her 3D jelly art cakes, she shared that she has done several private classes for some of her customers who have expressed interest.

“When I conduct classes, I limit the number of students because a big group would be difficult, as these 3D jelly cakes need hands-on teaching and learning. Insya Allah, I will try to conduct more if there is time.”