Face cake is terrifying. Putting a photo of someone you love on a cake and then cutting into it for dessert is creepy, creepy, creepy. Especially when that someone thinks it would be hilarious to use red velvet cake for the foundation.
The thing is, the Hippie Husband loves face cake. And when it’s his birthday, it’s tough to veto his cake selection. Yes, I find the flavors a bit tasteless and the visuals to be completely tasteless, but still – it’s HIS birthday. A few years ago, we came up with a compromise. Little Hippie would draw a picture of Daddy for his face cake, and we would put *that* onto a homemade carrot cake. I got the idea from seeing my friend Bridgette’s rolled buttercream accents on a birthday cake.
It was a simple process, though it took a decent investment of time.You’ll need the following materials:
- A Sharpie
- Wax paper
- Buttercream icing in the color(s) you want (you can get this pre-fab in the food decorating section of your local craft store, which I highly recommend)
- Pastry bag and writing tips (an added bonus to buying pre-fab icing is that the couplers and tips from Wilton fit right onto the Wilton frosting tubes. The saved time outweighed the gross ingredients for the tiny amount of frosting we needed for this project)
Your artist should draw a relatively simple design using a sharpie (thicker lines are easier to trace with buttercream) on a piece of paper the size of the area of cake you will be decorating. We do a regular sharpie for two reasons: thicker lines are easier to trace with buttercream, and the sharpie will show through the other side of the paper. (NOTE: the example above was from before we figured out the sharpie trick, so it’s just a pen drawing on a piece of paper. We lost a lot of details in the transfer process because the lines were so thin)
- To convert it to frosting, you will need a mirror image copy. If you use thin enough paper, you can just flip the paper over for the mirror image version. Otherwise, scan it, flip the image using a photo program, then print out a copy (that’s what we did below). But learn from my missteps; take the easy way out – test out the paper and marker beforehand and make sure that the design shows through the back side of the paper. The flipped image is especially important when your design contains words.
- Tape the drawing to the counter. Lay a piece of wax paper over the drawing, taping it to counter as well. Go overboard with the tape and make sure it’s secure. You want it to hold still while you are piping.
- Trace the design onto the wax paper with the frosting. If you are right-handed, work from left to right. Hang onto the frosting, just in case you need to touch up the final product.
- Set in the refrigerator while you frost the cake. Don’t leave it too long – it will get brittle and separate from the wax paper.
- Here’s the only tricky part. Hold the frosting design over the cake where you want it to go. Quickly but gently turn over the wax paper and lay the frosting design on top of the iced cake.
- Gently press the back of the wax paper to make the design stick to the top of the cake. Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Starting at one corner, SLOWLY start peeling the wax paper away from the cake. If any of the design sticks to the wax paper, put it back down immediately and press it again. Leave it for another minute, then try again. This part of the process reminded me of putting on a temporary tattoo. Once the whole design is free of the wax paper and is sitting on the cake, you’re all set. Touch up any problems.
Voila! The personalization of Face Cake without the crappy flavor of a store-bought cake.