Indulging in cakes is a guilty pleasure, but there is a different kind of cake that can lessen the remorse.
Nabilah Lutfi found it in jelly cakes—3D jelly cakes, to be exact. Impressed by how refreshing they tasted, she was also drawn to their beauty which reminded her of a flower garden she never had from living in the city.
Jelly cakes also hold dear memories of her late grandmother. “I lived with my grandmother when I was a kid and she always made jellies (the colourful ones) during special occasions,” she told Vulcan Post.
“I want to recreate the taste of the jelly that my grandmother used to make for her grandchildren but add in art for aesthetic value. I wish to repeat the circle of feeding [jelly cakes to] my grandchildren.”
That was the inspiration fueling her home business, Sugar Coaster.
Fun for the family
Starting Sugar Coaster while pursuing a Masters in Engineering Science, Nabilah got into creating jelly cakes after taking a class in it with her mother and sister.
The class was enjoyable and fulfilling for the family, and Nabilah signed up for more to hone her skills in the craft and launch her Instagram business to sell the cakes.
Using seaweed jelly powder which is plant-based and halal, Sugar Coaster’s jelly cakes also provide customers with the choice to choose between full cream, soy, or coconut milk.
Sugar Coaster’s cake flavours include choices of lychee, pandan gula Melaka, rose syrup, mango, and Pina Colada. Depending on the cake’s sizes and designs, prices can range from RM78 to RM240. Though Sugar Coaster isn’t the only 3D jelly cake maker in Klang Valley, let alone Malaysia, each maker’s pricing differs due to ingredients used, skillset, and size of the cake.
With the proper carving tools and the right jelly consistency, injecting floral patterns in 3D jelly art cakes aren’t too difficult for novices to do. Mastering the art, however, is a different story.
Injecting the art
Go through Sugar Coaster’s jelly cakes and you’ll find intricate arrangements in the varying designs Nabilah offers.
Her favourite design is the koi fish pond, containing gold ingots and a gold bar, giving off a luxurious and wealthy feel.
Look closely and you’ll find that there’s even a fish sticking out the top of the cake, as if leaping out of water. The clear jelly even captures the ripple effect of water when something is moving on its surface.
Explaining her process, Nabilah described that she cuts out a hole in the clear jelly that has been set, inserts the koi fish that was made prior, and then carves the clear jelly layer to mimic the ripple effect.
She then reheats the access clear jelly that was carved out to act as glue, securing the koi fish in place.
Learning this technique through jelly cake art classes and tutorials videos, Nabilah would often create a practice piece before making her new designs for sale. “For me, to perfect the skill is to practice it every day,” said Nabilah.
In the event that Nabilah messes up on part of the design, she’s able to melt that specific element to try again.
A slow calculated process
For Nabilah who’s been creating her jelly cakes for over two years now, the process can take her between two to six hours, depending on the design. At her fastest, she added that her process is able to produce up to nine jelly cakes a day, or 35-40 cakes a week.
All of Sugar Coaster’s jelly cakes are customised upon request, and because jelly-based cakes have a short shelf life by nature, they’re only crafted the day before their dispatch. Once it reaches customers, the jelly cakes can be stored for up to four days and are best served chilled.
Currently on hiatus from her post-graduate degree, she’s working on Sugar Coaster full time in tandem with her husband. A part-time helper also comes on board during festive seasons to assist in fulfilling large orders.
In the near future, Nabilah and her husband plan to have their own studio where she can conduct her own classes in making jelly art cakes. She also intends for the space to host private events and demos.
To date, she has already hosted a few workshops in collaboration with Bakeinc, a marketplace for baking equipment and utensils.
Featured Image Credit: Nabilah Lutfi, founder of Sugar Coaster