There are two types of edible “paper” that can be used to print edible images: wafer paper, also know as “edible rice paper,” and frosting sheets which are sometimes called icing sheets.
Types of Edible Paper
Wafer paper is a starch-based edible paper. For edible imaging, you will want to use the thin, white flexible form of wafer paper. Edible images printed onto wafer paper will not be as high quality as those printed on frosting sheets making it less suitable for photo cakes. Wafer paper is ideal though for printing things like leaves, feathers, wings, flowers and butterflies. Wafer paper dissolves in water not frosting so it will not dissolve into the surface of a frosted cake. As a result, wafer paper may be noticeable when cutting or eating the cake. Wafer paper also has a tendency to curl or wrinkle when refrigerated or placed on moist cakes. Unlike frosting sheets, wafer paper has no plastic backing. Wafer paper has a smooth side and a rough side. You can print on either side but the smooth side usually yields the best results. Wafer paper can be cut to desired shapes and sizes.
Frosting sheets are not really paper at all but thin layers of frosting that have been pressed onto a flexible plastic backing. Frosting sheets are the preferred form of “edible paper”for use on cakes. Edible images printed onto frosting sheets will have more vibrant color and crisper lines than those printed on wafer paper. Frosting sheets also meld into the frosted surface of a cake absorbing the taste, color and sometimes even the consistency of whatever is underneath. Because of this, buttercream is the best frosting to use with frosting sheets. Frosting sheets can also be used with non-dairy whipped topping, fondant, marzipan, royal icing, ice cream, chocolate and even on poured icings like ganache. Frosting sheets come in many different shapes and sizes or can be cut to desired shapes and sizes.
How to Store Frosting Sheets
Frosting sheets should be stored tightly sealed in a heavy zip-loc bag to prevent them from drying out. Store flat out of direct light. Frosting sheets do not need to be refrigerated. They have a shelf life of one year.
Can frosting sheets be printed in advance?
Frosting sheets can be printed in advance and then stored in a large, heavy duty zip-loc bag. Leave the plastic backing on until ready to use. Store flat out of direct light. As with other food colorings, edible images can fade if overexposed to UV light.
How to Use Frosting Sheets General Use/Buttercream Non-dairy Whipped Topping Whipped Cream Ice Cream Royal Icing Rolled Fondant/Marzipan Ganache/Poured Fondant Chocolate/Candy Melts
Handle your frosting sheets with care using clean, dry hands.
Do not remove the plastic backing prior to printing.
Place the frosting sheet into the printer with the frosting side up.
Print your image keeping in mind the boundaries/size/shape of the frosting sheet.
Allow the printed image to dry for three to 15 minutes. Now is a good time to frost your cake if you’re using a frosting that crusts. If your frosting doesn’t crust, you can have a frosted cake ready beforehand.
If cutting out an image, do that while the frosting sheet is still on the backing and while it is still flexible. Use a pair of very sharp scissors or an exacto knife.
Before the frosting on your cake has had time to form a skin or crust, carefully remove the frosting sheet from the plastic backing and apply it to the frosted cake by lowering the frosting sheet down onto the cake from the middle outward, carefully and gently smoothing with either your hand or a small roller.
Finish decorating your cake. You can pipe over frosting sheets but take care not to puncture the sheet with your decorating tip. Store finished cake covered or in a cake box. Cakes can also be refrigerated or frozen. Frozen cakes should be thawed in the refrigerator, uncovered to prevent them from sweating.
Non-dairy Whipped Topping
Application is the same as for buttercream. Keep finished cake refrigerated.
Application is the same as for buttercream. Because of the high water content in whipped cream, you should apply the edible image as close to serving time as possible. Colors may run and the image may fade. To avoid this, you can frost under the edible image with buttercream or apply the edible image to a fondant plaque to protect it from the moisture of the whipped cream.
Mist the surface of the ice cream with milk or rub the surface lightly to soften it before applying the edible image.
Mist the royal icing with water and then apply the edible image. You can also apply the image before the icing sets but it may wrinkle as the royal icing dries.
Using water or piping gel, lightly moisten just the area where you want to apply your edible image. For smaller images, you can moisten the back of the image with piping gel before applying it.
Pour your icing as usual. Apply the edible image before the icing sets. Be sure your cake is level or the edible image may slide.
Molding chocolate or candy melts can be poured over edible images. To do this, place the edible image face down in a mold. Pour the candy over the image slowly. Take care to
Edible images can also be applied to the surface of melted chocolate and candy melts.
Frosting Sheet Troubleshooting
Frosting sheet won’t release from the backing.
The frosting sheet needs longer to dry.
You can speed up this drying process by using a blow dryer. To do this, gently hold the
frosting sheet at one corner and blow dry in a slow side to side motion. Pay special
attention to areas heavily saturated with ink.
Another method is to place the frosting sheet in the freezer for 10-15 seconds which will
release the sheet from the backing.
Rolling the plastic backing across the sharp edge of a table might also help to release the
Frosting sheet is dry and brittle.
The frosting sheet is too dry.
If the frosting sheet has lost all of its flexibility and become brittle, do not run it through
the printer. Methods you can use to try to rehumidify the frosting sheet are:
Seal the frosting sheet in a zip-loc bag and place it in a humid environment like the refrigerator.
Steam the frosting sheet over a pot of boiling water.
Moisten a paper towel or small cloth with warm water and place it beneath the plastic backing (not touching the frosting sheet) and then seal it in a zip-loc bag.
Spray a fine mist of water over the top of the frosting sheet.
If all else fails, you might consider using the frosting sheet to stamp, color or airbrush on
with edible inks. Cutting images out of dried frosting sheets can be difficult so try to use the whole sheet.
Frosting sheet won’t meld into the frosting on my cake.
The frosting on your cake has formed a skin or crusted over.
Apply your frosting sheet before the frosting on your cake has had time to form a skin or
crust over. If it crusts before you are able to apply the frosting sheet, either lightly mist
the area with water or lay a moistened paper towel over it.
Frosting sheet has bubbled.
Moisture has seeped up through the cake. Tapping down the bubbles with your finger can make them less noticeable. To prevent this, be sure your cake is completely cooled before frosting it and applying the frosting sheet. Store your finished cake in a cool, dry place. If your cake is frozen when you apply the frosting sheet, allow it to thaw slowly in the refrigerator. You’ll also want to avoid storing the finished cake in an airtight cake dome at room temperature. An airtight cake dome can act like a greenhouse.
Frosting sheet has wrinkled.
The cake has flexed. Use a sturdier board underneath your cake. This is especially true with large sheet cakes that have a frosting sheet in the center. Frosting sheets become part of the cake so they will flex whenever the cake flexes. This can cause wrinkles or cracks to form in the frosting sheet.
Frosting sheet has cracked or is damaged beyond repair.
If your frosting sheet has cracked or become irreparably damaged while it’s on the cake, a
new frosting sheet can be applied over the damaged one.
First repair any cracks to the surface of the cake by filling them in with frosting. Then,
using the smooth side of a basket weave tip, pipe over the damaged frosting sheet and lay
a new one over it smoothing gently with your hand or a small roller. If the crack was
caused by a lack of support underneath the cake, you will need to add more support or the
crack may reappear.