How to Do a Buttercream Transfer

From the Recipe Shoebox.


White buttercream* (recipe follows)
Food coloring

Flat portable surface (like cutting board)
Wax paper

INVERTED picture print out of your design 

Piping bags (I would recommend these because buttercream is thick and your Ziplock baggies will burst)
Piping tips
(plain holes, but not too small)
(to hold your piping tips in place)


1 c butter, softened
1 c shortening (regular white shortening)
1 tsp butter flavoring (Wilton makes a good one)
1 tsp vanilla (use clear vanilla to keep the frosting more white)
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting Directions:  Cream butter, shortening, and salt until smooth.  Add flavorings and mix together well.  Add about 1 lb of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add 1/2 c powdered sugar at a time and keep mixing until desired consistency.  Add a little water* (tsp at a time) to make it smoother or thinner if desired.  You do want this one a little thin to make it easier to color in your lines.  *Yes, you could use milk instead but then you'd have to refrigerate any leftover frosting.

**Important note:  DO NOT use the store bought frosting in a container to do this and think that it will save you time.  It will NOT freeze and therefore you will not be able to peel off the wax paper.  I know this because I tried it one year and was seriously disappointed and had to end up piping the picture freehand at the last minute.  Just thought I'd let you know.


Print out your picture in reverse.  I guess for this Angry Bird it didn't really matter which way he was facing, but if you have words then you want it reversed.  This is because we are going to flip the end result onto the cake and whatever you see now, will end up on the bottom.  Tape your picture to the cutting board.  Now tape wax paper over the top of the picture.  Make sure the wax paper is smooth.

The first thing you want to do is trace ALL your outlines, most likely in black, although it would really depend on the picture you're doing

After doing your outline, think about your layers.  If there are small areas to color in, do those first.  Or if there are parts of your picture that you need to "pop" out more than others, do those first as well.  Here I did the cheeks first because it was a small area.

Next I filled in the eyes, completely covering the eyeballs.  Make sure that you fill in all the gaps and smooth out your frosting inbetween layers.  Otherwise you'll have a bumpy looking picture.

After doing the small areas, fill in your larger areas.  Again make sure to smooth it out as much as possible and fill in all the little gaps (especially next to the neighboring lines) 

I also traced around the picture in the same color that the cake is going to be frosted.  That way we will be able to blend in the transfer a little better onto the cake. (you'll see what I mean in a minute)  Now cover your picture with the same color frosting as your cake and smooth it all out so it is flat.

Cover your picture with another piece of wax paper and place in the freezer for a couple hours.  Although I have easily left it in there for a few days.  (In fact I still have one in there from a few months ago and I'm sure it will still be fine.  IF you do leave it in the freezer for a while, just make sure that it is protected, as your transfer is fragile. *See last picture on this post for an example of what I'm talking about)

After your cake is frosted and the top of your cake is smooth, then remove the transfer from the freezer.  Remove it from the cutting board and if you look at the bottom you should see a perfectly colored picture of your design.  Take the bottom (white layer in the above picture) and place it flat on the top of your cake.  Carefully remove the wax layer from your top.

You may see some bubbles or bumps where it didn't get smoothed before freezing.  No problem.  Just take a flat metal knife and heat it under some hot water.  Dry off your warm knife and carefully use the warm tip to smooth out your bumpy parts.  Using a warm flat knife helps melt the shortening thus creating a smooth surface.  

Now you may notice how thick your transfer is and that it's not blended in very well onto your cake.  Just take a warm knife again, and begin to smooth the edges into the surface of your cake.  You may need to add more frosting to make it all blend in well.

 Yes, this does create a bit of a thick top on your cake, but let's face love frosting.

Finish with the decorating or any other piping of borders you want to do.   Watch you child smile as he sees that you created exactly what he wanted for his birthday!