PETALING JAYA, Aug 14 — Ever had the burning desire to create a dessert that will knock everyone’s socks off? Here’s your chance... sign up for a class with Aki 3D Jelly Cake to learn how to make these stunning 3D jelly cakes and we guarantee your friends will go crazy over your efforts.
Started about two years ago, the classes are taught by Vietnamese Aki Hien who is married to a local. The Hanoi native had learnt how to make these beautiful 3D jelly cakes in Japan when her husband Henry Aw was posted to Nagasaki for work about three years ago.
As an active member of the Vietnam Woman Club in Malaysia, she would often make the jelly cakes for the Vietnamese embassy.
With many expressing interest in learning how to recreate these jelly masterpieces, she decided to offer classes. Some students from as far as India and the Philippines have flown here to attend her classes. Back in Hanoi, her partner Xuka Nguyen also teaches classes.
The origin of these pretty blooms cast in gelatin known as gelatinas florales seem to point towards Mexico. According to Aki, she met a Mexican lady who claims she has been making them for 35 years already.
She would use a knife and spoon to cut holes and “craft” the blooms that look suspended in the clear gelatine base hence the three dimensional effect.
From Mexico, the craze for these stunning 3D jelly cakes ended up in Vietnam where it’s a blooming business. In recent years, the interest has spread to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
In Asia, the preferred medium is konnyaku jelly. It’s important to ensure the jelly is clear with no cloudy substance since it’s the blank canvas for the blooms.
The jelly is usually left plain but if you wish to give it more flavour, you can add coconut water to the jelly powder as long as you boil it longer to get rid of the bubbles.
Using metal tools in different shapes to mimic the flower’s petals, the cream coloured jelly is injected inside the clear jelly via a syringe.
The various colours are made from natural ingredients. For instance, yellow can be made from pumpkin or even yellow seeds used to brew tea in Vietnam. The green colour is from matcha tea powder while the pink colour is made from red dragon fruit or even strawberry puree.
Aki prefers to keep it natural rather than resort to artificial colouring for her jelly cakes since it’s healthier for family and friends. You can use coconut milk, condensed milk, soy milk or milk, depending on your preference to make the cream coloured jelly.
The coloured jelly is kept warm in a pot of hot water to prevent it from solidifying since it needs to be in liquid form to be injected into the clear jelly base. Once you complete injecting the cream jelly, turn it over to see your creation. As it’s handmade, each piece will differ.
Since it’s done in reverse, it’s hard to imagine the end result. Once the jelly is ready, another layer is added at the bottom to create a base so you can see your flowers clearly. The background can be blue, dark brown or even a pale pink. You can add the flavouring in this layer like chocolate or even red dragon fruit.
Depending on the various tools used, you can create all sorts of flowers like cherry blossom (sakura), daisy, sunflower, carnation, rose and tulip. “Some even create new flowers, it’s up to your imagination,” explained Aki. There are about 15 sets of different flowers using the tools crafted from silver or gold.
In her class for beginners, the students were all from KL except for Aishah Mat. She had specially flown in from Kuching to learn this technique as she hopes to start a business selling these unique 3D jelly cakes.
One student who caught everyone’s eye was Lim Kian Seong. As the only male attending the class, he impressed many of the other students with his beautiful creations.
As a baker in One Cafe, he had joined the class for fun with his two friends, Peong Pui Ling and Elaine Lee. As Lim says, “It’s different as you cannot see (the flower) and you’ve got to do it based on your feelings.”
As the class was one of the biggest Aki has ever held, she roped in her former students who have also became good friends to help. One of the teachers was Jinee Wee who has been diligently making 3D jelly cakes since she learned how to in June.
“I actually hate art and flowers but I like the fact that it’s always a surprise every time you turn it over.” The home based mother makes them for customers who order via her Facebook Jinee Jelly Cakes (https://www.facebook.com/jineejellycakes/).
These customers will place orders from as far as Singapore and Australia for relatives they have here. Currently in Kuala Lumpur, she plans to return to Melbourne to teach classes.
The idea of a jelly cake where the sweetness can be adjusted appealed to her since she’s not a fan of cream cakes and sweet things.
Another former student of Aki’s is Alicia who had learnt to make the jelly cake about a week before Chinese New Year. Her incentive was that “wow” effect that she got when she proudly brought it to her friend’s potluck Chinese New Year celebration.
Each beginners’ session, which is about three and a half hours long, costs RM350 per person. Usually, the smaller classes are run at Aki’s apartment in Setapak. Large classes are held at The Magic Wok. Once you are have conquered the beginners’ class, you can sign up for the advanced class. You will be a taught on a one-on-one basis to make the elaborate peacock. Aki will also teach you how to do free hand drawing with the needle.
Since July, Aki also offers classes for piped jelly cream flowers. Similar to buttercream flowers, these use a healthier jelly version that is less sweet. You can place these flowers on jelly or even glutinous rice.
For more details on Aki 3D Jelly Cake, you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AKI-3D-JELLY-CAKE-1646602562269866/. Aki also makes the 3D jelly cakes by order. The 3D jelly cake prices range from RM100 (8 inch), RM120 (9 inch) and RM140 (10 inch). She also sells the tools and seaweed jelly powder to make the 3D jelly cakes.