How Do Photo Cakes Work?
Birthdays are the perfect time to go all out on cake decorations. Some cakes have personal messages written on the top in icing. Others might have favorite cartoon characters or superheroes hanging out to wish you a happy birthday. The latest trend, though, is for a cake to feature a photograph of the birthday girl or boy.
Bakers call these special treats photo cakes. The photograph on the top of the cake looks just like one you’d see in a frame on your wall. The difference, though, is that you can eat the photo on your cake! These cakes can be made very fast; you can order in the morning and get them by the afternoon.
Making an edible photograph that can be used as a cake decoration is a fairly simple process today thanks to modern technology. Bakers first need the photograph you want to put on the cake. If you have a digital photograph, you’re good to go. If not, the baker will need to scan your photograph to create a digital file.
An edible photo can then be printed much like you would print a photograph at home on a printer. Some home printers can print edible photos with the right materials. Most bakeries that make photo cakes have special printers used only to produce edible photos.
If you have the digital photo file and a printer, then you only need two more things: paper and ink! The paper used for edible photos is usually known as “icing paper” or “frosting sheets.”
The earliest versions of icing paper were made from rice. Today, though, there are several different types of icing paper and frosting sheets available. They’re made from a variety of materials, including potatoes, cornstarch, and sugar and starch mixtures.
Likewise, non-toxic, edible inks are used to print the photos onto the icing paper or frosting sheets. These special inks are made from sugar and food coloring.
Most edible photos have very little texture and no significant taste. They’re designed to dissolve on a moist surface, such as the top of a frosted cake. Once applied and dissolved, the photo looks like it was printed directly onto the top of the cake itself.