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Adding Graphics to a Cake

By:  Dawn Griffin

American Cake Decorating Magazine

Jan/Feb 1996


Frozen buttercream transfer is a method of transferring your art to your frosted cake. You are making a buttercream "plaque" to apply to your cake. It is similar to the more familiar method of transferring a design to a frosted cake with gel on waxed paper, and filling in the design with a star tip. It is also comparable to run-in (flood-work) sugar design work, and it will make a beautiful reproduction of your art in buttercream on small as well as very large cakes.


Things You Will Need:

  • 1 batch Buttery buttercream Icing
    (The recipe is below; this is the preferred recipe: however, you can use your own.  Just use a buttercream recipe that is at least ½ butter to Crisco. This seems to peel away from the wax paper more cleanly.)
  • Wax Paper
  • Tape
  • Parchment cones or icing bags
  • Flat portable surface such as a cutting board
     1. Choose a graphic image and print it out in reverse/mirror image.

(Click here for a good place to search for coloring book images)

2. Tape your picture down to a solid surface such as a cutting board.

3. Tape a piece of wax paper over your image.


4. Using your choice of outline color*, trace the outlines of the picture.

*Outlining note: I use store brand (VON’S) fudge icing or Wilton’s Black. These are thicker and seem to not smudge as badly as homemade buttercream. The fudge seems to work better. I have found that name brand fudge icing is too creamy. The Wilton’s black will try to lift off of the wax paper. This must be used with care.

5. After completing outline. Begin coloring in. Think about your layers. For instance, in the sample picture, the white collar/cuff fur would cover the red jacket and bear fur. So I do this first.


6. Continue with your other colors thinking about layers as you go.

7. When you have finished coloring in your graphic, smooth the back while gently pushing without blending your colors underneath. This will settle your frosting into the grooves and create a smooth finished project.
8. Anything you have on the edges will show on your cake. Using the same color icing you will ice your cake with, edge the transfer and cover the back evenly.
9. Place in freezer on cutting board for at least 90 minutes. I have left it in for as much as 24 hours.


10. Remove from freezer. Turn over onto iced cake.

11. Gently press transfer into icing.
12. Carefully remove waxed paper
13. Enhance transfer and finish icing cake, as you desire



Buttercream Icing for Frozen Transfers

By:  Dawn Griffin

Preparation time:  about 10 minutes

  • 1 cup Crisco (Do not use high-ration shortening. You need a stiffer consistency)
  • 3 sticks butter (real butter, good quality)
  • 2 Tsp flavoring (I use 1 Tsp clear vanilla, 1 Tsp butter flavoring)
  • 2* pounds powdered sugar, sifted several times (I sift 5 times).  Add more sugar if it is not stiff enough.

1.   Cream the butter and shortening well.


2.  Add the flavoring.


3.  Slowly add the powdered sugar.


4.  Mix on 8 - 10 speed for approximately 5 - 10 minutes for a smooth consistency. The length of time depends on the weather/atmosphere at your house.


This article was written and photos copyrighted by Dawn Griffin.




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