Buttercream Transfer How-To


Today I want to share a super helpful technique that I learned in a wedding cake class that I took. Why is it so helpful you ask? Because you can do pretty much anything with it! Any image (as long as it is simple enough) can be made into a frosting image and placed atop a cake. So, you child wants a Super Mario cake or a Minecraft but the grocery store doesn’t have a kit for it and nowhere else will do it because it is copyrighted. Well, aren’t you in a pickle now? Nope, your not! Just find an image online, print it off and your in business. Of course, I should mention that the only reason you can do a copyrighted cake is if you are not going to sell it, otherwise you could get in trouble. Seriously. it is a very hand technique to have in your arsenal of handy techniques.

So, to start go online and search images for coloring pictures of the thing you want to do, for instance: coloring pic of cat, coloring page of frozen, coloring page of Link from Zelda, coloring pic of Mario, or a coloring page of an eagle (which is what I will be demonstrating today, great for 4th of July). Find a picture you like and print it off. You can use pictures that are not coloring pictures, although they do work best, you just need a picture that is fairly simple (or can be simplified) with strong outlines. Here is a buttercream transfer I did of Link from The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker:

Next, bake your cake, fill, and frost it and put it in the freezer for now. Make sure your cake is big enough to fit your image or visa versa. You don’t want to go to all the trouble of making the buttercream transfer only to find that it won’t fit on your cake. This cake was just a bit small so the images hung off a bit, but it was okay. It is also made up of eleven different buttercream transfers! It is all eleven (at the time) Doctors for Doctor Who!

Next up is to trim up your image a little bit. Cut it so that it is a size that will fit on your cake turntable, or a cake board whichever you’ve got handy.

Now you are going to need to get some masking tape and tape the image to the turntable, or cake board.

Cut some waxed paper so that it is just a little bit bigger then you image.

Tape the waxed paper down on top of the image.

Next, you are going to need to think about what color frosting you are going to need to color in and outline the image. If you want to you can print off two of the image and color on it to see what color you like for what.

Gather your frosting and food coloring  and make all the colors you need. Be sure to think about how much of each color you need. So, you won’t make too much of a color you don’t need that much of and end up with not enough frosting for another color that you do need a lot of.

Next, fit piping bags with couplers, you are going to need one bag and coupler per color of frosting you need. Fill the bags with the frosting colors. Also, go ahead and get out all you small round piping tips, I typically use Wilton size 1-2 for this.

Using your outline color fit the bag with one of your small round tips.

Start to pipe the outline over the outline of the image you printed.

Outline the image completely and place the whole set up in your freezer for at least 10 minutes to harden up.

Next, think about what is in the foreground of the image, for this image it is the eagle not the fireworks. This is where you are going to start, in the foreground. I started with the beak. Basically, you are piping within the outline of the beak, but over any lines in the beak.

Then I piped the brown feathers, doing the same thing, piping within the outline and over any lines within the outline.

Then the white feathers.

Then I popped it back in the freezer for another 10 minutes. You need to put it into the freezer anytime you notice that your outline seems to be getting softer. If it gets too soft it will try and press out as you pipe color inside of it. Next, I piped on the fireworks.

Now, because this image has a lot of thin pieces, I piped a background around it to give it a bit more stability. As you can see if you look at the of Link he has no extra background around him just the outline. It all depends on you image and if it has any spindly areas.

Freeze again for at least 10 minutes. Then fill in the entire image with whatever you base iced your cake with. Smooth it out with an icing spatula

Be sure to make this last layer pretty thick, if you make it too thin the transfer is more likely to break in the transfer process.

Freeze another 10 minutes. Then, get out you cake and your transfer and get ready to be amazed!

Carefully, un-tape the waxed paper from the turntable or cake board and very carefully turn it over onto your cake were you want it.

Use your hands to warm the image a bit so that it is more willing to leave the waxed paper.

Now, slowly and gently peel away the waxed paper.


Now all that is left is to pipe on a the boarders.

So to sum up.


I hope you find this technique very useful! Be sure and share and picture of your work.


How-To By: Rilla Banks (A.K.A. Epic Sweet)