Though the professional cake industry was the first to adopt printing images for cakes, the process of printing edible images on sugar paper is so simple amateur bakers can do it at home. Printing edible image transfers requires a small investment in materials and time to learn the basics, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Many people only make edible image transfers for cakes, but cookies and cupcakes are also an ideal canvas for edible sugar paper image transfers.
Purchase a printer. Any ink jet printer is capable of printing edible images for cakes. If you have an old ink jet printer laying around, clean and use it. Do not attempt to make edible sugar picture transfers with your regular printer. Though any ink jet printer will do, a printer should be designated for this use alone. Also, printer-scanner combination machines are available for printing edible images without a computer.
Pick the image to be transferred. Make sure the picture will fit without being edited. If it will not fit because it's too larger or too small, use an image editing software, such as Paint or GIMP, to crop or resize the image.
Load the edible ink into the printer. Edible ink cartridges load into the printer exactly like regular ink jet print cartridges. Make a test print to be sure the ink is properly loaded before trying to print the image.
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Put sheets of edible paper into the printer. Edible paper for sugar transfers include wafer paper, rice paper and frosting sheets. Frosting sheets are layers of frosting pressed onto a plastic backing and are the most preferred edible paper for cake transfers.
Print the image. Use your computer, or the printer-scanner machine, and print the image that will be transferred onto the cake. This is a simple process, but may take a few printings to get right. Once the image is transferred onto the paper, seal it in a zip-top bag and keep out of direct sunlight.
Edible ink is nothing more than food coloring and natural dyes that are safe to eat.
Dry or brittle edible paper sheets will not feed through the printer. Try rehumidifying dry sheets in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator or steamed over a pot of boiling water.
You must not remove the plastic backing from the sugar or frosting paper prior to printing. The backing holds the sheets together during the printing process.
Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.