Cake maker Siew Heng Boon crafts confections that don’t look edible at all. Her glass-like creations are instead akin to office paperweights with florals and fish encased beneath clear surfaces. Known as 3D jelly cakes, these confections are made with gelatin or seaweed jelly powder and use specific tools to inject colorful motifs onto a clear base.
Boon’s cakes are an awe-inspiring example of when food transcends into edible works of art. She’s developed her impressive skills only within the last couple of years—she didn’t even know jelly cakes existed until two years ago. “A neighbor of my mum had made it and gave it to her,” she tells My Modern Met in an email. “Intrigued by it, I decided to take up a course run by a very famous 3D jelly art teacher in Malaysia. After practice and posting it up on Facebook and Instagram, a few people started to order them from me.” She established her business called Jelly Alchemy upon her return to Sydney a year and a half ago.
So, what goes into making a jelly cake? There are a few components needed to produce one: the first is colored milk (or alternatives like coconut milk); the second is a clear canvas for the flowers to be injected into; and finally, a colored base to complete the cake.
To begin, different jelly colors are heated into a liquid state and then injected with specialized tools that create different shapes on the canvas. After the decorative elements are done, a flavored base is poured over the top to finish the cake.
The types of ingredients used depend on the culture in which you learn to make a 3d jelly cake. “In certain countries like Mexico,” Boon explains, “gelatin is preferred to create the clear canvas but in Southeast Asia, we generally use a type of seaweed jelly powder and sugar to make it.” Boon typically infuses flavorings like lychee into the canvas and prefers all her hues to be natural. “The color base can be made out of any ingredients that you like, for example, juice, flavored milk, cordials, etc.” This careful consideration results in beautiful—and tasty—work, and it's the reaction from her clients that keep her making the edible art. “I love the ‘wow' factor that it creates when people see them.”