First comes the amazement. Is that really a cake? Are those flowers real? How can they be encased in glass? Who did this? How? Is it edible?
All these questions race through their minds when people first view a cake made by Arlene Alcantara of Gelatin at Its Best. It’s surely no ordinary cake. The roses look like they’ve just bloomed. The daisies are as fresh as spring time. And there are lilies floating on a pond of leaves and water. What makes the flowers even more astonishing is that they’re all in 3D, with the depth of field characteristic of a work of art.
“I’ve always loved flowers,” says Alcantara. She was a florist before she started her gelatin cake business, accepting orders online for floral arrangements. But she would also often watch television shows on cake decorating, which was her other interest.
After attending a workshop on gelatin cake decorating, she felt she had found her calling. She would combine her interest in floral arrangements with her interest in cake decorating. The bonus is that it would allow her to work from home—which would give her more time to spend with her 2-year-old daughter.
The first cake she made was a huge success. When her seventh grade daughter brought it to school, it immediately got sold. (In fact, it was her daughter who gave the business its name, when she exclaimed, “This is gelatin at its best.” )Alcantara hasn’t stopped making gelatin cakes since. Not that it’s easy. It takes her one to two days to make a cake—and because of the delicate texture of the cake, she has to work in an air-conditioned room.
First, the base has to be chilled. Then using a syringe, she has to patiently inject the flowers, petal by petal, leaf by leaf, stem by stem, upside down. She sees the outcome only after she turns it over the next day. Thanks to her skill, the result is always a beautiful creation.
“It takes a lot of creativity and passion,” she says. “I envision how real flowers look like and I get inspiration from their color combination.”
Mood is also important. “When you’re happy, you get a beautiful outcome,” she says.
She can design any flower requested by clients. She can also customize cakes and put logos and initials. On Christmas, the most popular design is the poinsettia. Naturally this Valentine’s Day, it would be roses.
The cake is an ideal gift for Valentine’s. The heart-shaped cakes filled with flowers would be like giving two gifts in one.
Though the entire cake is edible, the flowers are so dazzling people often hesitate to slice them. One customer said she still hadn’t eaten the cake after five days. “I don’t want to destroy the flowers,” she reasons.
But as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this case, the “pudding” comes in a choice of seven flavors: almond (the bestseller), banana, lychee, mango, caramel, orange and cheesecake. Alcantara also makes cheesecakes with jelly and strawberries or blueberries on top.
To preserve its freshness, the cake must be chilled and must be consumed within seven days. It’s also best served chilled, but must never be stored in the freezer.
Surprisingly such a delicate confection is sturdy. It can withstand three to four hours of room temperature, especially if the room is air-conditioned. One customer even brought it, packed in an insulated bag, to Dubai, where it arrived still in good shape.
“Just don’t expose it to direct sunlight,” she advises.
The cake comes in three sizes. The snow globe (perfect for giveaways) is P200 each and requires a minimum order of 12 pieces. A six-inch cake costs P600, while an eight-inch cake is P900. Single orders require lead time of one to two days; bulk orders, three to five days lead time.
Though the orders keep her busy, Alcantara finds the business fulfilling and satisfying. “I’m so happy I discovered it,” she says. Most likely, so are her customers.
Tel. 0977-8333041; Facebook/Instagram: Gelatin at Its Best