Parchment paper or wax paper or baking paper can be used for loads of cake decorating techniques, to create stunning and unique designs.
#1 Buttercream Transfers
Let’s start with one of my favorites, a buttercream transfer. This technique will let you replicate any design, even super complicated ones, onto a cake. Choose an image you like, online or on a notebook cover or wherever, and draw it (or trace it) onto parchment.
Tint buttercream the colours you want to use and buttercream is the best kind of frosting for this particular method because it gets so firm when it sets, which you’ll see in action in a minute. Put each colour into a piping bag with a small round piping tip or you can just put your buttercream in a ziploc bag and cut the corner off for a homemade piping bag! Outline and fill each coloured section of the design except the biggest section.
Freeze the design on the parchment for 5 minutes to set it and then pipe on the final colour and spread it over the whole design so that it’s flat and also to create a sticky surface on top of the parts of the design that have set.
Lift it up straight away and press it against a cake, and the frosting on the cake should have set so that THAT frosting is firm, too, and then you won’t damage it.
Put the whole cake in the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes and then peel the parchment off and voila!
#2 Piped Details
Another great use for parchment paper (or wax paper or baking paper) is for piping details that you can’t pipe directly onto a cake, and then transferring them onto a cake. I'll show you how to do this will and without a flower nail. If you have a flower nail, cut parchment into little squares the same width as the flat circle of the flower nail. You'll need one parchment square for each flower you pipe.
To attach the parchment to the flower, pipe a dot of buttercream onto the middle of the flat circular part of the nail and press the parchment into that. The buttercream dot will act as glue. Pipe your detail onto the parchment, spinning the nail between your thumb and finger as you pipe each petal. I'm using a #104 petal tip for this flower, stopping squeezing the bag at the end of each petal and then repeating all the way around the nail to finish each flower. I’ll pipe the middle later.
Slide the parchment off the nail and onto a plate and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes to set.
If you don’t have a flower nail you can pipe directly onto parchment paper on a plate, like this, turning the plate around as you pipe to find the easiest angle for each part of the flower or pumpkin or whatever you’re piping. Put the piped detail on the parchment paper into the freezer for 5 minutes to set the buttercream.
When the buttercream has frozen, peel the buttercream off the parchment and there are two ways to attach it to your cake. The first is to pipe some buttercream onto the bottom of the frozen flower and this fresh buttercream will act as glue. Work quickly because the frozen flower will thaw after a few seconds and start to stick to your warm hands.
Now push the flower into the frosting of the cake and the frozen flower will chill the dot of buttercream so that it sets and holds the flower in place.
It’s useful to pipe the centers of flowers now, at the end, so that you can push against the middle of the flower to attach it to the cake without damaging anything.
The second way to attach piped details to a cake also requires freezing the details on parchment paper first. Then pipe a dot of buttercream onto the cake, wherever you want to put the flower or any other piped detail. Now press the flower into that dot to attach it to the cake.
#3 Neat sprinkle borders
Parchment will give you neat sprinkle borders by covering up the cake where you don’t want the sprinkles to go, and this way you’ll have an even band of sprinkles with straight top edge because the sprinkles will only attach to the frosting below the parchment paper.
The frosting on the cake needs to have set before doing this so chill your cake for at least an hour in the fridge first. Pour sprinkles onto the cake board all the way around the cake and use an offset spatula or your hands to scoop the sprinkles up and push them into the exposed cake below the parchment paper.
A tray or baking sheet with a rim is useful for catching falling sprinkles so that they don’t go everywhere!
#4Homemade buttercream stencils
Parchment is a cheap way to make absolutely any stencil design you like, by cutting a shape or design out of the parchment. If your parchment came on a roll it will curve and that’s ideal because when you wrap it around the cake it will do most of the work for you! Draw a shape and cut it out, leaving the surrounding parchment paper intact to use as your homemade stencil. Alternatively, cut little shapes out within the outline for a mosaic-style design.
Pull the parchment tight and wrap it around the cake and press the ends of the parchment against the cake to keep the stencil flat. Spread buttercream over the stencil, being gentle so you don’t push the buttercream underneath the parchment, which will smudge the outline of the design you cut.
The frosting on the cake needs to have set before you wrap the stencil around it so chill the cake in the fridge for an hour first. Scrape off the excess buttercream with your offset spatula or a cake comb, which will flatten the design. Keep scraping until you can see the stencil through the buttercream so that the buttercream is very thin, which will give you the neatest results.
Pinch a corner of the parchment and peel it off, away from the cake, and tadaa!
#5Homemade sprinkle stencils
For a bit more bling, follow the same steps with a fun addition at the end. Cut your shape out of parchment, wrap it around the cake, spread buttercream over it, scrape off the excess and then peel the stencil off.
Now press sprinkles into the buttercream on the stencil. The sprinkles will attach easily since the frosting within the stencil is soft and sticky, but they won't stick to the frosting on the cake because that has already set.
You can press the sprinkles in before peeling off the stencil but I find that the edges of the design are neater this way. You can brush off any unwanted sprinkles with a paintbrush to tidy things up.
#6 Sponge painting
With parchment you can create patterns on a cake using a sponge painting technique with frosting! Just cut the parchment into strips or circles or whatever shapes you want to be the colour of the frosting on the cake.
If you chill the cake first, when you take it out of the fridge some tiny drops fo condensation will form which will attach the parchment to it, or you can use pin to secure the parchment if you prefer.
Tint buttercream or any other frosting to make “paint” and you’ll need to add milk or cream to buttercream to thin it out a bit to be able to use it for this.
Dip a sponge into your paint and then dab it over the exposed parts of the cake and when you peel the parchment off you’ll have a colourful, slightly textured pattern!
I hope you’ve seen some ideas you’d like to try! Tell me in the comments which is your favourite and check out my cake school for hundreds of cake designs and techniques. Join my ClubPLUS for access to every MiniCourse, MasterCourse, and Live Workshop on my cake school!