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How To Create a Frozen Buttercream Transfer

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.1
Things You Will Need:
  • 1 batch Buttery buttercream Icing ( 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
  • Parchement cones or icing bags
  • A 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

Other cakes by Dawn using this technique:

By: Dawn Griffin

Comments (71)

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting an article with visuals....can't wait to try it out!!!
WOW! I never heard of this method before. I love it. Thanks for sharing.
Very nice work, and thanks also for the visuals, as I am a visual learner. Words just don't do it for me. tee hee
I used this method but put the waxed paper over plexy glass first, that way you can lift the glass and look at the image underneath to make sure you don't have an air bubbles in your icing. This works well because you can check your work periodically as you go. You can get plexy glass cut at Lowes or your local hardware store.
Thank you all for such great tips. I have been searching for this "FBCT"...drove me crazy trying to figure out what that stood am new to the site & I am already learning a lot!!!! Thanks again!!!
Thank you so much for the very concise instructions. Never thought I'd be interested in this technique. It's very useful.
Thank you so much for this information. I've been wondering how to do this for a while, but never really took the time to look it up, I'm just a mom who wants to make my own cakes for my kids birthdays, I'm going to try this for my son's Wall-E cake for next week...hope I can get it right! :)
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this technique! Thanks so much for the tutorial!
I'm going to try this next week, but I'm worried about what to use for outlining. There is a store here that carries the Wilton brand, but I was wondering what "Wilton's black" specifically referred to - is it just their regular black tube icing? I'm doing a Red Wings logo - should I use a Wilton's red icing and my own normal buttercream for the white? I'm sorry if this sounds like a silly question - I've never done a buttercream transfer before, and I don't want to mess it up! Thanks :-)
Would there be any concern about how far in advance to freeze, I've read not more than 90 minutes or it might crack. What about when thawing is there concern of the colors running?
Very helpful thank you ever so much for sharing your knowledge.
I used this for the first time on my halloween cake and it turned out great. I was worried about the colors running but if you follow the directions that are given it turns out beautiful. Thanks.
The suggestion to use store brand canned frosting for the outline REALLY helped me - I used Aldi's chocolate frosting and without that, I don't think it would have peeled off the paper properly. That frosting stayed harder than the buttercream just long enough to get the transfer moved. Thanks so much for the extra tip!!
This is very helpful...I do have a question: Does this work only on animated pictures or can you do a photo of a family member too?
I tried this method but when I removed it from the freezer it had ice crystals on it and they melted rigtht away, putting water on the piece. the black out line ran all over the place and I had to scrap the whole thing. Did I leave it in the freezer too long (I had it in there 2 days) Has this ever happened to anyone
Thank You so much. I am new here and this is very helpful!!!
Thank you so much for sharing this idea. I’ve used it now to make several cakes, from a UGA cake to a High School Musical cake. It’s wonderful and the results are beautiful!
How far in advance can I put this on the cake? I wanted to do it on a friday but the party isnt until saturday afternoon. Has anyone had a problem with the icing getting too warm and breaking apart? Also, does it have to be refrigerated after pulling from the freezer? tia.
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