|Ever tried to pipe something specific onto a cake? A cartoon character, a company logo, or any other sort of recognizable design?
I know, it’s a pain. You’re stressed out about not screwing it up, hoping the final thing will be recognizable, and that it doesn’t end up on the Cake Wrecks website.
Did you know that there’s a much easier way to do it, than freehanding it? It’s called “frozen buttercream transfer”, and it takes all of the stress and freehand work out of piping set designs!
The nice thing about this technique is that it requires absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever! It’s the kind of simple “Man, I wish *I* had thought of that!” brilliance that… well, I wish I’d thought of! Alas, this is one of those “learned it through other cakers” design “secrets”.
Hope you enjoy my first cake decorating tutorial!
What you need
1 firm, flat portable work surface (Piece of plexiglass, cookie sheet, or cutting board)
Printout of desired image (Should be done as mirror image to what you actually want)
Parchment or wax paper
American Buttercream, tinted appropriate colors*
Piping bags, couplers, and tips (I usually use a 2, 4, 5, and 10)
1 cake, frosted
Step 1: Tape your image to your firm, portable work surface, making sure that it is as flat and smooth as possible.
Step 2:Tape a flat piece of wax paper or parchment paper over your design. You just want to tape around the edges, again aiming for a smooth surface – don’t put tape over any part of your actual design.
Step 3: Use a size 4 or 5 round cake decorating tip and black frosting to pipe the outlines of your image. Keep your lines as smooth as you can, and make sure that all intersecting/touching lines are actually touching.
If there are any thinner, non-main parts that should also be piped black, change to a smaller tip (maybe a #2), and pipe them in. Once you have all of the black piped on, place your image – work surface and all – into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Step 4: Remove image from the freezer. Using a #4 or #5 tip, use the color that you’ll be using the least of (in this case, purple) to fill in the appropriate areas.
Position your tip near one edge/corner of the inside of the area to color. Squeeze with gentle, constant pressure, and allow the frosting to fill the area smoothly. Make sure this frosting is touching the outline all the way around the area.
If your outline is still firm, pipe the next smallest amount of color (peach, in this case). If not, freezer image for another few minutes before proceeding.
Step 5: Continue freezing and piping areas of color, until you’re all done.
I like to leave white for the very last color, to avoid any possible running of other colors. Accidents happen!
Step 6: Once all of your areas are filled in, fix a piping bag with a big round tip – I like #10 – and completely pipe over the whole area. Freeze image for about 1 hour, or until completely firm.
Step 7: Once your buttercream transfer is completely firm, remove the tape from the waxed paper. Very carefully flip your image into position on your frosted cake. If you’re completely caked-out like I am, you can put it on a giant Rice Krispy Treat!
Put your work surface aside, and adjust the placement of your transfer if necessary – you should be able to see through the paper.
Step 8: Carefully remove your waxed paper, step back, and admire your work. LOOK WHAT YOU DID! Woo!
Using a fairly big tip – I used #10 round – Pipe a border around the outer edge of your transfer. I used a plain black border, but you can pipe shells, do whatever color you want, etc – this is basically just to hide the raw edges of your transfer.
Decorate the rest of the cake any way you want, then take lots of pictures!
Particularly happy with your newfound decorating skills? Be sure to post a photo on our Facebook page – we’d love to see it!
* Now, I’m not the biggest fan of American buttercream – definitely prefer Swiss Meringue buttercream – but for the purposes of this technique, I find that it just works better. Your frosting consistency should be thick enough to pipe solid lines that don’t ooze, but soft enough to have good control over it, and that the lines aren’t breaking.
I like to use Americolor brand food coloring. It comes in far more colors than grocery store food coloring, is super concentrated, and doesn’t tend to make the colored frosting “bleed” like Wilton coloring
Minnesota Vikings “Norseman” logo used with permission.