The Easiest Way to Make Homemade Cakes Look Professional

You can put down your piping bag, because cake wraps are a much, much easier way to decorate.

Anyone who's made a layer cake knows the struggle involved in getting the icing on the sides perfectly smooth, and the decorations just right. And while fondant might be easier to smooth out, it just doesn't stand up to the richness of buttercream.

Enter cake wraps. These handy decorations aren't exactly new, but they'll make your cake decorating projects much, much easier. Often made of sugar (and also called wafer paper or sugar sheets), some bakeries use them to create gorgeous patterns and images on cakes, but you can use them at home, too.

World map wafer paper on layer cake
Image courtesy of DecorEats.

Buy It: World Map Wafer Paper

The beauty of cake wraps is that they look professional, but you can order them online and apply them to your homemade cakes. Several different shops on Etsy sell them, and some will even create custom designs for you. That means the sky's the limit, and you can get just about any pattern or picture printed on an edible wrap to decorate your cake.

If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can also print your own with blank sugar sheets sold on Amazon—but be warned, you'll need a special printer and edible ink for printing creations that are safe to eat. We're more than willing to leave the printing work to the pros for now, because there are so many options out there to choose from.

And trust us, the possibilities are truly almost endless (and pretty affordable, too). In line with today's cake trends, you'll find quite a few options for floral wafer paper, and cake wraps that have other foliage patterns, like palm leaves.

Ombre pink and blue cake wrap on layer cake
Image courtesy of BumbleberryBakes.

Buy It: Watercolor Edible Image Cake Wrap, $12, Etsy

There are tons of cake wraps that would fit just about any event—we could see this gorgeous ombre wrap at a wedding, a birthday, or even a baby shower. You can find plenty of different prints for any occasion, like pastel-colored feathers ($16, Etsy), tie-dye patterns, and vintage-inspired cake wraps ($16, Etsy).

Cake with Winnie the Pooh cake the wrap (map of the Hundred Acre Woods) and Winnie the Pooh cake topper
Image courtesy of KeyLimeParty.

And while a lot of our favorite sugar sheets might fit best at a party for adults, there are plenty of options for children, too. We're especially in awe of this super-cute Winnie the Pooh inspired cake wrap, which features a map of the Hundred Acre Woods and would definitely make for a birthday cake to remember.

Buy It: Hundred Acre Woods Edible Image Cake Wrap, $7, Etsy

So How Does It Taste?

Another great thing about cake wraps is that they don't have much of a taste, so while they look pretty, you won't really notice it once you start slicing, serving, and eating. Our senior food editor for, Sheena Chihak, actually used wafer paper on her wedding cake, and it was a hit. "It made our wedding cake so beautiful without adding gobs of frosting, or gross fondant, so the actual cake flavors could shine," she says.

So if you're not a fondant fan, or don't want huge mounds of frosting decorating your cake, wafer paper may be the way to go to add a fun pattern or intricate decorations. You'll still be able to wow guests with a gorgeous cake, but once everyone starts eating, the focus will be where it should be—on the flavor of the cake, not the decorations.

How to Use Cake Wraps

Another major perk of wafer paper is that it's easy and quick to apply (so no need to spend hours with a piping bag). When you first get your wafer paper, you might need to trim it a little to fit your cake, so that it will wrap around a layer cake without overlapping, or fit on the top of your cake without hanging off the edges. Make sure you're using a clean pair of scissors, and handle the wafer paper a little more carefully than you would a regular sheet of paper. You can also cut shapes out of the paper to add to your cake (or cupcakes), like flowers or hearts, instead of using a full sheet all at once.

Sugar sheets work best when applied to fresh buttercream frosting. To apply, line up your sheet or piece with the surface you want to attach it to, then carefully press it on. Smooth out any bubbles by gently pressing on the paper, starting in the center and working your way to the edges. To help with the edges, you can also try using an offset spatula to gently smooth and flatten the paper.

If you're not using fresh buttercream, you can still use a cake wrap, you'll just need something extra to help it stick. For fondant or harder buttercream, lightly smooth a small amount of white gel or royal icing onto the cake before applying the wafer paper. You can also try brushing or misting on a small amount of water, or even light corn syrup—just make sure your cake doesn't get too wet, or, if you're using icing, that you smooth it out so your cake wrap isn't lumpy.

A few last tips: For the best look, you'll probably want to apply your cake wrap on the day you're serving the cake. They might be ok on a cake in the fridge for a couple of days, but the longer you wait to serve it, the more chances there are for the wafer paper to bleed a little, or to get wrinkled. And if you have multiple designs on hand at the same time, make sure you store them in separate bags so the patterns don't transfer or bleed. No need to store them in the fridge or freezer either (they might dry out), and when you're working with them, place any extra paper back in the packaging or in an air-tight bag right away.

It might take a few tries to completely master this technique, but once you do, everyone will think you're a decorating pro. And remember, if your first try doesn't turn out exactly right, the best part of a cake is eating it!

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