How to: Frozen Buttercream Transfer

Last week I had a request for a graduation cake.  The graduate had a huge list of activities and was accepted to the University Of Florida.  His High School colors and UF’s colors did not work well so I decided to do separate the two a bit.  I decided to make the cake with the Gator’s logo and then do a graduation hat and diploma.  I’ve created the Gator’s logo before in royal icing but this time I wanted to make something that didn’t have to be removed.  When the logo was made from royal icing it dries hard and is more like a plaque.  I was told the celebration would be more of an open house type celebration.  I decided to try my hand at a frozen buttercream transfer.  I’ve tried a couple of these over the years without much success.  I did a little research and watched a couple of videos and decided my failures in the past we due to the type of frosting I was using.  It turns out, the buttercream you use needs to actually have butter in it!  I was like most people when I started out, used everything Wilton and their frosting recipe didn’t have butter.  I have changed my ways and I love my buttercream recipe.  Here are the steps I took to create the frozen buttercream transfer:

The first thing I did was get a copy of the logo and I pasted it in to Word.  Once I was  sure the image would fit on my oval cake I had to figure out how to get my printer to print the mirror image.  After searching around a while I finally found the solution.  In the Page Layout tab in Word 2010 way over to the right is a “rotate” option.  Just rotate the image until you get your mirror image and print.  Here’s what it looked like printed and taped to my cookie sheet.

I used a sharpie to outline the lines I would need to see the most.  Most of the examples I saw when I was doing research were simple designs.  I would not recommend doing a design like this as your first frozen buttercream transfer.  Since my color ink cartridge is forever out of ink, I found it helpful to have the color image in front of me to do the outlining.  Cover your image with wax paper and tape it down.  Next comes the colors.


After you have all of your colors mixed, it’s time for the outlining.  If you look closely at the logo there is a royal blue outline around the entire image.  So I started there.  I used a #3 tip and a #4 tip.  For the really small areas I used a #2 tip.  After I did the outlining I realized that I need to fill in some of the blue areas.  When you fill in areas of a frozen buttercream transfer make sure you get as close to the outline as possible and use a zig zag motion to fill in the larger areas.  The dark green areas were quite large so I used a #5 tip to fill in these areas.  Again make sure you fill in the area making sure to not leave any open areas.  This is what the frozen buttercream transfer looked like with the royal blue and dark green areas completed.


Continue filling in the different colors until your image is complete.  I realized as I was working that that it is helpful to allow a bit of time for the outlines to crust over a bit before you fill in other colors.  Also, if your fill in colors overlap or cover your outline colors it isn’t the end of world.  I found it helped a bit to do this because when I smoothed the finished product there were less small gaps to cover.  I had a scrap piece of glass that I moved to the image to so I could see my progress, plexiglass would work well also.  Since I’m new to the blogging process I got caught up in my work and didn’t take a picture of the image when I was done.  Now for me it took several tried to get everything right.  I would make a mistake and try to fix it and I wouldn’t be able to get all the color off where it wasn’t supposed to be.  Remember that any colors you get on the bottom of the image will show when the image is done.  When I was done with the image I was left with little gaps and I didn’t like that so I decided to smooth the entire image with an angled spatula.  Here’s what it looked like when I was done.

It’s kind of a scary image but since I had my glass I was able to see what it looked like.   Make sure you smooth the entire image softly, you don’t want to shift any of the outlines.  To finish off the image you want to outline the image in the frosting color of your iced cake.  When that is done, cover the entire image with the same colored frosting in a zig zag motion and smooth.  If you follow these steps you won’t have any bleeding of colors as your transfer thaws.  Here is what the final step looked like.

Place your image into the freezer and let it set up for 12-24 hours.

While my image was freezing I worked on a graduation cap.  I baked some chocolate cake in a half ball pan.


Covered it in some chocolate buttercream and covered it in black fondant.


I used a piece of card stock to find the right size for the top of the graduation cap and cut the black fondant to size.  I used a mixture of black fondant and gum paste to make the top stiff.  Coloring the gum paste black will help to keep the mixture looking black and not drying to a different shade.  Letting the top dry for several days is a good idea.

Moment of truth, time to get the frozen buttercream transfer out and see how it looks.

I was worried since I didn’t have a back-up.  All in all it came out pretty well.  The perfectionist in me wanted it to be better but alas, there is only so much time in the day.

I had decided to make a diploma for the cake board.  This is a pretty simple process. I rolled out some white gum paste cutting it to size and rolled it up on a wooden dowel.  After rolling it, I rolled out some red gum paste and made a red ribbon for it.  I used gum paste from Duff Goldman’s line and it seems gooey to me.  I let it dry over night before I put it on the diploma.  Making the tassel for the graduation hat was interesting.  I have seen several different methods but I used a play dough tool to create mine.  I found that gum paste works better than fondant.  The finished product.

It drives me crazy to look at other blog post that look perfect.  Real life means things don’t always work out the way you hoped or planned.  Even though I let the top of the cap dry for over 24 hours, when I placed it on the cap it started sag and the tassel didn’t turn out like I would have liked.  Next time I will let the top of the cap dry longer for sure and maybe make it just out of gum paste.  I’m not sure if it was the temperature difference (the hat had been in the refrigerator) or if was the gum paste/fondant mixture but I think it might have been a little of both.  Cake decorating is so interesting, you learn something new with almost every cake you make.  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions or comments please let me know.

This week:

A patriotic cake for a returning solider with a camouflage cap and a fondant American flag.

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