The edible image printer is a jolly good invention! (Dear Father Christmas ….!) It’s similar to a normal printer, but uses edible ink cartridges to print onto edible wafer paper sheets. Wafer paper, as it now tends to be called, is the same as rice paper, but now tends to be made from potato starch! Wafer paper does sound better than potato paper ….!
You can print anything you want; an old wedding photo for the top of an anniversary cake, a personalised label for a wine bottle cake, newspaper sheets for a fish & chip cake, pages of text for a book cake. Print anything that is usually made of paper … photos, tickets, labels, posters, book covers, record covers, magazines, business logos, cartoons, etc.
At over £100 to purchase your own printer though, it’s pretty expensive if you only want to use it for the occasional cake. The good news is that you can order edible printing online from numerous companies at very reasonable prices with good quality and quick service. They can print toppers sized for cupcakes or large cakes, or A4 sheets. You just email them your image (PDF format ensures the image remains exactly as you want it) and at about £2 for a full colour A4 sheet, it’s a much more affordable option than buying your own printer! Printed photographs and other non-digital images will need to be scanned onto your computer first so that you can email them.
A handy tip is that if your image takes up less than half an A4 sheet, copy and paste it again onto your document so that you will get two copies of the image printed on your sheet of wafer paper – always useful in case you have a disaster with the first one!
So, when you have received your printed wafer paper, what do you do with it? A key thing to know is that wafer paper and water do not get along! Water will dissolve the wafer paper into a very sticky mess. The best glue I have found for sticking wafer paper is piping gel (more about piping gel in a blog post very soon!). Piping gel is widely available from cake decorating shops and online, and in the UK from shops such as Hobbycraft. It never actually dries so it doesn’t wrinkle and distort the paper, like edible glue does as that dries, but it still adheres really well and leaves the paper perfectly smooth and flat.
Cut out your image as required with a clean, sharp pair of scissors. Make sure they are completely dry!
Sticking your wafer paper onto white or very pale icing will really make the colours stand out. The colours on printed wafer paper look quite ‘thin’ but are so much brighter and more vibrant when you place them over a white background. See fig.1 for the difference between printed wafer paper on a dark background on the left and a white background on the right. I would recommend sticking the wafer paper onto white sugar paste for the ideal smooth surface. For cupcake toppers, the sugar paste can then be stuck on top of a swirl of buttercream to attach it to the cupcake. For large cakes, the whole cake can be covered in sugar paste and the wafer paper stuck directly onto the cake.
This is a quick and easy way to decorate a simple cake or cupcakes, or can be used to great effect on more elaborate cakes. I’d love to see any of your cakes using edible printing, and please comment if you have any questions. Enjoy! x