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How to Put Sugar Pictures on Cakes

by Amelia Allonsy, studioD

Edible sugar sheets make it super easy to decorate cakes and cupcakes without any prior decorating experience. Sheets come with patterns to cover a whole cake and with precut pictures that you apply simply by peeling the pictures off of the backing. You can also use pattern sheets to create your own picture designs. Also available is edible frosting paper made of sugar and starches that allows you to print digital pictures and apply them to cakes and cupcakes. The process is the same for both types of sugar pictures.

Frost the cake with a crusting buttercream frosting which substitutes solid vegetable shortening for part of the butter in the recipe. Spread the frosting as smoothly as possible with an icing spatula. Allow about 30 minutes for the frosting to harden.

Run a high-density foam roller across the top and along the sides of the cake to smooth out the frosting. Keep this roller in your cake decorating supplies for use only on cakes. Alternatively, you can lay a nontextured paper towel over the cake and rub it with your hands to smooth out the frosting. Perfectly smooth frosting is needed to prevent ridges and wrinkles in the sugar pictures.

Cut the sugar picture to the desired size to fit on the cake, using a pair of scissors reserved exclusively for use in your cake decorating supply kit. Remove the paper backing from the back of the sugar picture sheet.

Hold the image over the cake, adjust it to the desired position and lay it in place on the cake.

Spray a fine mist of water over the cake surface to make the frosting tacky so it acts as a glue to hold the sugar picture in place. To avoid making the frosting too wet, spray the water upward several inches above the cake and allow the mist to fall down on the cake. Check the instructions carefully, because some sugar pictures require you to brush piping gel on the back of the image instead of using a mist of water. After a bit of experimentation, you might find that both methods work well.

Roll over the picture with the foam roller, working from the center to the edges to press out air bubbles. Apply light pressure to ensure good contact between the picture and the frosting. If you don't have a foam roller, you can lay a nontextured paper towel over the picture and press gently with your hand. You can use only your hands to press the picture gently onto the cake, but you must press carefully and with even pressure across the entire picture so you don't make impressions in the picture.

Allow about 20 minutes for the sugar picture to set -- the tacky frosting beneath it hardens to hold the picture securely in place. Once the picture is set, you can apply more pictures or frost borders on the cake.

Items you will need
  •  Buttercream frosting
  •  Icing spatula
  •  High-density foam roller
  •  Non-textured paper towel
  •  Scissors
  •  Spray bottle
  •  Piping gel
  •  Applicator brush


  • High-density foam rollers are available in hardware stores, not the cake decorating aisle, but they prove effective for quickly and easily smoothing frosting and applying sugar pictures.


  • Edible frosting sheets for printing pictures must be used only with edible food coloring ink. To avoid contamination by regular printer ink, purchase a separate printer to use only for printing edible pictures.

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images