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Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets

In this ultimate guide to icing sheets I’m going to walk you through the basics of icing sheets: how to store them until you use them, how to prepare your cake, apply icing sheets to the cake, and how to decorate them with three different techniques. If you prefer to watch a video of this tutorial, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Storage
Icing sheets are thick, edible sheets of sugar. They’re sensitive to light so they’ll become discoloured if they’re exposed to sunlight. They come in fun, bright patterns that are sticky on one side and usually come attached to acetate backing sheets, which you should peel off just before you use a sheet.

icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Icing sheets harden with exposure to air so you should store them in an airtight bag. To avoid discoloring, place the bag inside an envelope or put them in a dark place like inside a drawer. For 20% off icing sheets click here and use my code EMILYBGB.

icing sheets dry out and crack Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Prepare your cake
Icing sheets won’t stick to buttercream that has already set so if you’re using a crusting buttercream like my 4 Minute Buttercream you’ll need to apply your frosting just before using the icing sheet.

crumb coat and final coat frosting Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

You could apply the sheet straight onto a crumb coat but if you have crumbs or bumps or dents in the crumb coat it’s better to apply a smooth final coat on top before attaching the icing sheet.

touch up frosting and smooth Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Spread the buttercream on to cover up the crumb coat. As you smooth the frosting, really focus on getting straight sides because if the frosted cake is wider at the top or bottom, the icing sheet won’t go on straight and it will either ride up or down the cake instead of sitting straight, or it will buckle and crease as you apply it.

smooth frosting Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

It’s okay if you can see some shadowing of the cake through the final coat of frosting because icing sheets become even more opaque as they set and you won’t be able to see this subtle shadowing through the patterns on the icing sheets.

smooth frosting on Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

If you’re going to do a peekaboo design you don’t have to frost the whole cake at this point, just where you’re going to apply the peekaboo shape or shapes, and I’ll cover this in more detail in the next steps.

patch of buttercream for peekaboo Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Because the icing sheets are opaque, it’s okay if the frosting is a colour that’s not white, like this purple frosting. Even though parts of the icing sheet design are white, and you might expect to be able to see the purple frosting through them, you won’t be able to!

patch of buttercream for peekaboo cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Apply the icing sheets
As soon as you’ve finished frosting your cake, peel the acetate backing of your first icing sheet.

peel icing sheet off backing plastic Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Press the base of the icing sheet down against the cake board to line it up straight and press it gently against the frosting to secure it to the side of the cake, starting at the bottom of the cake to make sure it goes right down to the base and then pressing all the way up.

line icing sheet up against frosting to apply to cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Each end of the icing sheet should be straight, going vertically up from the cake board to the top of the cake, not slanted. If it’s slanting like on this side it’s because it doesn’t go all the way down to the bottom of the cake, and that’s because the frosting on the sides of my cake isn’t perfectly straight – the cake is wider at the top than at the bottom.

troubleshooting icing sheet riding up cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

At this stage, while the frosting is still fresh and soft, you can peel the icing sheet gently off the cake and then scrape off some more frosting from the thicker parts of your cake, in my case the top, so that it’s straight and then re-apply the icing sheet.

peel icing sheet off and scrape frosting to create straight side Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

You have to work quite quickly if you do this because you don’t want your frosting to set before you scrape it and you don’t want the icing sheet to dry out and harden.

attach the first icing sheet to cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Once you’ve made sure the icing sheet goes all the way down to the bottom of the cake so it’s sitting straight, press it against the frosting with your hands or you can use a fondant smoother.

use fondant smoother Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Make sure the edges of the icing sheet are pressed flat against the cake rather than sticking out.

attach first icing sheet to cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

You’ll probably have to use 2 or even 3 sheets to cover your cake completely. I’m cutting a strip out of a second sheet to finish wrapping this one, which is a 4” cake. I like to cut the strip a little bit bigger than I need, maybe an inch wider, because you can trim it later.

attach second icing sheet to cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Press the next icing sheet onto the frosting and then immediately cut off any excess with scissors, before the sheets set because they’ll crack and snap if you try to cut them then.

trim excess of icing sheet to line it up Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Icing sheets are a little bit sticky but not sticky enough to stick to each other and conceal an overlap, so it’s best to cut the second sheet at the same place the first one ends, so that they sit right next to each other. You can try brushing the edge of the bottom sheet with some piping gel to make the top sheet stick, but applying any liquid is a bit risky because it can make the colours bleed on the pattern on the icing sheet.

try brushing water to attach icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Don’t worry too much about the patterns lining up and matching because the patterns tend to be quite busy and when the cake is finished you’ll hardly notice the join. When you’re happy with the sides, trim the top of the icing sheets so that they’re the same height as the cake.

trim the top of the icing sheet Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

You can measure and cut them before applying them but it’s tricky because if you mis-measure by just a millimeter you’ll have either frosting or the icing sheet sticking out at the top of the cake. It’s easy to trim the sheets now, while they’re still soft and pliable.

trim the top of the icing sheets to line up with cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Since the buttercream frosting will have started to set by now, you can rest the blade of your scissors on the top of the cake as you cut to use as a guide of where to cut. Tidy up any jagged cuts afterwards so that the icing sheet is perfectly flush with the top of your cake.

place icing sheet on top of cake and trim around a few times Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

If you’re going to decorate the top of the cake you might choose to leave it as is, or you can cover the top with an icing sheet. I use a cake pan or cake board the size of my cake as a guide and draw around it onto an icing sheet, making a wider circle to leave room for the frosting on the cake.

trace around cake board or pan onto icing sheet Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

The icing sheet should still be on its acetate backing while you’re doing this and when you cut it out you’ll cut through the icing sheet and the backing. If the frosting on your cake has already set, spread on some more to completely cover the top of the cake.

spread fresh buttercream onto the top of the cake to attach icing sheet Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Try not to spread the buttercream over the edges and onto the icing sheets around the sides of the cake but if that does happen, wipe if off with your offset spatula or a paper towel.

scrape off excess buttercream with offset spatula Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Then peel the acetate off the icing sheet circle and place the icing sheet on top of the cake. Because it’s bigger than your cake you’ll have room to trim around it, pressing the bottom blade of your scissors gently against the sides of the cake to line the scissors up and cut the excess off the edges of the circle so that it’s the same size as the cake.

place icing sheet on top of cake and trim around Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

You can go around several times to tidy up any jagged cuts or trim off even more until there’s no icing sheet sticking out over the edge of the cake.

place icing sheet on top of cake and trim around a few times Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

The seams where the icing sheets join will probably be disguised by the pattern on the icing sheet but if not, you can use piping to disguise the join and add some colour and texture and interest to your cake, which I’ll show in detail in the next step.

options for join of icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

For a fault line design, don’t worry if the icing sheets don’t go all the way down to the bottom of the cake because you’re going to cover that part with frosting later.

peel icing sheet off backing paper Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Instead of pressing the icing sheet onto the frosting and then trimming the top, you can pre-cut the icing sheet so that it’s a little bit shorter than the cake, since the top will be covered with frosting as well. Of course, you don’t need to cover the top of the cake with an icing sheet for a fault line cake because you’ll be frosting over the top.

where icing sheets join Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

For a peekaboo design, immediately after frosting the area where you’re going to create your peekaboo shape, press a piece of the icing sheet onto that area. It doesn’t have to be the same shape as the peekaboo yet – just cover an area slightly bigger than the shape you’ll eventually use for the design.

apply icing sheets to patch of buttercream for peekaboo Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I’m using two different patterns for this cake, which will be two birds kissing so a different pattern for each bird. This is a great way to use up any parts you’ve trimmed from other icing sheets! The rest of the cake is still covered with just a crumb coat, but now that the peekaboo background pattern is in place, it’s ready to be frosted with a final coat in the next step.

icing sheets for peekaboo cake designs Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Decorate your cake
I’ll show you a technique that adds some nice texture as well as conveniently covering the join of icing sheets, and a trendy design that’s a great solution if your icing sheets don’t go all the way up to the top or down to the bottom of the sides of your cake. Finally, I’ll show you the rest of the process of creating a peekaboo cake.

icing sheet cake with piped ruffles to cover join of icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

To add texture to this cake I’m using a piping bag fitted with a petal tip, a Wilton #104, and I’m pointing the narrow end of the tip away from the cake and holding the wider end against the side of the cake.

petal tip for piped ruffles Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Squeeze out the buttercream as you move the piping bag up in a diagonal to pipe a ruffle of buttercream. Wherever you pause and hold the tip in place for a moment while still applying pressure to squeeze out the buttercream, the buttercream creates a wave out of the narrow end of the tip, which is why that’s the end pointing away from the cake.

piped ruffles with a petal tip Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I’m piping several ruffles onto the cake, overlapping each ruffle about halfway over the previous ruffle so that you can’t see any of the icing sheet pattern between the ruffles

piped ruffles Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I’m letting them stick up a bit over the top edge of the cake and to get neat peaks on the ruffles, as you lift your piping bag away, release your pressure on the bag at the same time. You can of course choose where you want the ruffles to go, so if you don’t like the seam where your icing sheets join, this would be a great place to cover up with this piping!

piped petal tip ruffles Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

When you’ve piped all of the ruffles you want, chill the cake for about an hour in the fridge to set the ruffles. Meanwhile, prepare edible gold paint by mixing gold luster dust with a drop of clear alcohol like vodka or a clear extract like lemon extract. instead. You want a thick liquid, almost paste-like, to get a nice bold gold colour.

edible gold paint Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

When the ruffles have set in the fridge you can start painting them, angling the brush to paint along the wavy edge of each ruffle. Use little dabbing motions from the side of the ruffle onto the edge to create a gold rim. It’s best to use a thin, stiff paintbrush so you can be very precise about where you paint the gold.

brush edges of ruffles gold Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

The next design is a fault line cake, which just means that the top and bottom of the cake will be bordered by another partial layer of frosting. Spread the frosting all around the bottom of the cake, applying it randomly for a rustic effect.

rustic fault line with icing sheet cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Spread frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth it with your offset spatula or frosting smoother, going all the way over the edges of the cake to prevent air pockets later.

frosting top of fault line cake with icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Then spread frosting around the top of the sides of the cake, leaving the middle of the sides of the cake exposed so that you can see the icing sheet pattern. Aim for an even thickness of frosting but don’t worry about smoothing it yet.

spread buttercream for icing sheet fault line cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Use a frosting smoother to smooth the frosting on the sides of the cake or you can use a textured cake comb, which is what I’m doing here.

textured fault line cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I’m scraping around the cake several times to imprint the texture and for more details on how to do this, check out my tutorial 5 Tips For Perfectly Textured Frosting.

textured comb on fault line cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I decorated this cake with two tone swirls and piped flowers and I cover every step of this design in lots of detail in my online class for this Icing Sheet Fault Line Cake.

tropical icing sheet fault line cake

For a peekaboo shape, start by cutting doubles of your shape out of parchment paper. I’ve cut out 4 little birds for the 2 birds I’m going to create, so I have 2 copies of each bird.

parchment paper birds for peekaboo cake with icing sheets

For each shape, cut one copy about two thirds from the left and the other copy about two thirds from the right, so that they overlap in the middle. This is important for revealing the peekaboo shape later.

overlapping parchment birds for peekaboo cake with icing sheets

Line up the two parts of your shape on the icing sheet on your cake so that they overlap to make the complete shape. Hold them in place with one hand while you scoop up some buttercream with an offset spatula in the other hand.

place overlapping parchment birds for peekaboo cake on icing sheets

While still holding the parchment shapes in place, spread buttercream around the edges to secure it. The icing sheet will be slippery so you’ll need to push quite firmly against the parchment shapes to prevent them from moving around.

hold parchment birds for peekaboo cake on icing sheets and spread buttercream

Spread from the inside to the outside of the shape so that you don’t push any buttercream underneath the parchment paper. Completely cover the outline of the shape (or shapes, like my two little birds) but leave the center of each shape exposed so that you have access to where the two parchment sides overlap.

cover edges of peekaboo shapes but leave parchment overlap exposed Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

I’m tearing a random shape for another peekaboo cake, and I’ll cut this one down the middle but not all the way through, so that it stays together but also gives me space to peel it apart for the peekaboo.

tearing parchment for peekaboo design on icing sheet Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Press the parchment onto the icing sheet on the cake, which should be bigger than the parchment paper shape, and while holding the parchment in place, spread buttercream around it.

spread buttercream over the edge of peekaboo parchment shape Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Then when the shape is outlined, spread buttercream over the rest of the cake.

cover edges of peekaboo shape but leave the middle exposed Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Smooth the frosting as normal and you’ll scrape more buttercream over the parchment shape but make sure that the middle section of the peekaboo shape stays visible. You can alternate the direction you scrape with your frosting smoother so that you don’t spread the buttercream over as much of the parchment.

smooth the frosting on peekaboo cake Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Finally, it’s time to reveal the peekaboo! Slide your offset spatula underneath the parchment, using the slit in the shape like I did for this random shape or going in between the two sections of the shape if you cut them like I cut the birds.

lift half of peekaboo shape to peel off Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Peel the shape off to reveal the icing sheet pattern underneath!

peel parchment to reveal peekaboo shape with icing sheet pattern Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

A few tips for this: first, I don’t recommend using very intricate shapes, like these birds, which have thin parts sticking out and small details like the zig zag edges of the wings. When you peel off the parchment those details get lost easily with the uneven edge of the peekaboo shape.

peel parchment to reveal peekaboo shape with icing sheet patterns Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Also, avoid very busy patterns or patterns that contain the same or similar colors to the frosting because it’s difficult to see which are the parts of the peekaboo shape. With this tropical pattern which has black in it, the navy frosting dividing the bird’s tail and wings gets lost in the design.

peekaboo cake with icing sheets

Finish decorating your cake however you like and you can store the cake at room temperature or in the fridge – the icing sheets will be fine at either temperature and the condensation in the fridge won’t affect them.

finishing touches on peekaboo cake with icing sheets Ultimate Guide To Icing Sheets On Cakes

Here’s the video version of this tutorial:

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