Wedding Cake IV: Royal Icing Transfers

As long as I was already playing with royal icing for the cookies, I wanted to try transfers. A royal icing transfer is when you draw your decoration on wax paper, let it dry, and then place it on your cookie or cake.

Okay, but why bother?

To me the major affordance of creating the decoration on semi-transparent wax paper is that you can trace.

When I’m left to free-handing my lettering, no matter how hard I try to vary the fonts on my cakes they always look pretty much the same.

Except for some slight variations in serifs, all of my lettering always looks the same.
Basically the only variation in my fonts is whether and how I serif, and occasionally I’ll throw in some small caps.

I’ve done some shaky copying of fonts. They read okay but are far from perfect.

Guinness cake from St. Patrick’s Day 2013. This is one of my first sculpted cakes. I think the lettering wasn’t this crooked, it just looks that way because of the curved surface.


Plus, the amount of time I spend measuring and planning and checking and adjusting makes this copying process not scalable to something like cookies.

I’d read about royal icing transfers and looked into this Instructable. I thought a monogram on some heart shaped cookies would be nice.

The Process

So I set about finding a font that was a good balance between elegance and simplicity. The winner was Apple Chancery, and I played around with a couple combinations of their initials, V and M. Eventually I came up with a pretty straightforward design.

I tried to make enough overlap of the letters that they would hold together but enough separation that they would read.

The aforementioned Instructable suggests making as many different cardboard squares as you want transfers so you can easily move them around, but that was for a much more complicated design using multiple colors of icing. Since mine would be done all in white, a single cookie sheet would be just fine.

I taped a sheet of wax paper onto the back — tight enough that it didn’t wrinkle but loose enough that I could easily move the pattern around underneath it.


I printed several sizes of the monogram and taped the one I liked best to a thin piece of cardboard. This one happened to be from some mailed advertisement, so I got to look at all those happy stock photos the whole time I was working.


The first few were a little shaky, but I got into the swing of it by the second row.

Adding Color

The next day after painting the gum paste dogwoods I moved on to these. It took a little experimenting to realize how thick I needed the paint to be. Close to a 1:1 ratio between pearl dust and alcohol worked best, and on some of them (particularly the gold) I did a couple coats to make sure they’d pop when laid on white icing.

Paint tests on the transfers revealed that thicker was much better. I eventually decided to reverse the colors on some because the pink popped more.


Transferring the Transfers

I removed them from the wax paper by first slicing the paper into strips and then using a small spatula and the edge of the table to ease them off. About half of them made it.


Conveniently I’d made about twice as many as I needed, so I only needed to use one of the broken monograms on the cookies.

I’d reserved some of the outline consistency icing but didn’t really feel like trying to deal with outlining again, so I just spread flooding consistency icing over the hearts and cleaned off any drips as needed. It made a bit of a mess, but I ended up able to spread the icing all the way to the edge of the cookies, which gave a nice clean look.



I’d made a few smaller hearts I thought I’d leave blank, but then I decided to use up some of the broken shards. I expected they would be just silly treats for my son, but I ended up liking them and bringing them to the wedding, too.

2015-05-24 09.48.34Here they are at the wedding, nestled among some delicious treats made by Cooking with Carlee.

Follow-up to my dogwood cookies post: the freezing process worked beautifully! They were perfect when I unwrapped them.


One comment

  1. All of your cookies were so beautiful and tasty! I have done transfers of ribbon roses before, but have always been scared to do any letters on anything. I have the handwriting of a kindergartner, so I don’t want that on display on my baked goods. I might be able to actually accomplish something like this!! I’ll have to try it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s