For your next party or event, wow your guests by decorating a cake to look like transferware. A pattern, a sheet of rice paper and a little patience are all that's required to turn your cake into something truly special.
Transferware is the term given to a type of pottery that was decorated by having an image transferred onto a sheet of paper before finally being transferred to the finished piece. The fun part of this is that by decorating a cake to look like transferware, you'll actually be doing the same thing. The trick to decorating a cake with such an intricate pattern is to color in the pattern on a sheet of edible rice paper, rather than on the cake itself. You'll "transfer" this sheet of rice paper onto the cake after the initial outlining is done before the final decorating. The rice paper will dissolve from the moisture in the cake's icing, leaving behind the image.
Creating a Flat Cake Top
Images of this kind work best if the surface of your cake is completely flat and level. Anyone that has baked a cake before knows that sometimes your cake ends up rounding up out of your pans, leaving you with the decision to cut some off, or have a rounded cake top. Additionally, it can sometimes be hard to get the icing on the cake smooth enough, with no crumbs caught in its surface. To achieve a level surface, try some of these tricks when you bake:
- Use a dense cake batter with no added baking soda to help eliminate air bubbles. Simple, eggless cake batters work well in this case.
- Tap the bottom of the cake pan against the counter before baking to settle the batter and release any air.
- Spread a thin layer of butter cream frosting over the top of the cake and then cover it with a rolled fondant for a smooth surface.
Decorating a Cake to Look Like Transferware
After you've baked your cake and allowed it to cool, frost the cake in as bright white a frosting or fondant as possible. If need be, frost the cake with a crumb layer first and a second layer to achieve a smooth, even look.
Place a sheet of edible rice paper, available at many cake decorating supply houses, on top of a piece of transferware, or on top of a printed transferware pattern. Using a food coloring pen, lightly trace the image from the plate.
Trim the rice paper down to the size of the cake, center the design and place the rice paper on the cake. Smooth it out so there are no creases or air bubbles that could get in the way of your design.
Using decorative icing in the darkest color of the pattern, trace over the crayon sketch on the paper. Go slowly and take your time; many transferware patterns are extremely intricate so plan for some breaks along the way to give yourself a rest. If you're using a pastry bag, use the smallest tip possible to give the cake a more delicate pattern. Otherwise, you can use ready-made cake decorating icing, just cut the tips off at an angle to give a finer point to the applicator.
Once you've outlined the pattern, begin to fill in the shapes with colored icing. Start with the smallest shapes and images first, so they don't get lost when you begin to fill in the larger ones.
When you're done, allow a little time for the moisture of the cake to dissolve the rice paper and you're done. Serve the cake on the transferware patterns that you pulled the design from and watch your guests look at your creation with awe.
While decorating a cake to look like transferware is not something you'll want to do every day, for those occasions when a novelty cake design is just what's needed to be the finishing touch to the party, this design can really go the extra mile.