Edible Ink and Cake Decorating - A Few Things You Need to Know
If you have ever seen the cakes at bakeries and noticed the images on them, you have probably wondered just how they do that. How can they take a photograph and transfer it onto a cake? Just what methods do they use? It looks impressive and would be fantastic if you could do the same thing. But of course you don't have the right equipment - right?
Chances are you might. The images and sometimes text that you see on cakes is the result of edible ink, edible paper, or a combination of the two. By using these tools, bakers are able to turn cakes into showcases of photography or amazing calligraphy. Cake decorating by hand using decorating bags and frosting can only do so much. Thanks to the development of edible ink and other supplies, cakes can be taking to a whole new level.
Edible ink is mostly made from food coloring and a few other ingredients that are FDA certified safe. Unlike the traditional kind of ink cartridges you're used to, edible ink is nontoxic and can come in a variety of different hues depending upon your needs. Usually edible ink is printed onto edible paper. The edible paper is often made of rice or starch. It is tasteless and has virtually no texture, which is why the image on the cake is always nice and flat.
Edible ink also comes in the form of decorating pens. The pens allow you to draw directly on the cake or other goodies like cupcakes and cookies. These pens look just like regular ink pens and can last for a long time. Decorating pens tend to work best on hard surfaces though. This means you will get the best results when the icing has hardened somewhat or cookies are flat and cooled.
The idea of putting a sheet of rice paper through your printer and printing all over it with edible ink can seem a little strange, but that's exactly how you do it. Most printers have no problem handling edible ink, but you must find a company that makes edible ink cartridges compatible with your particular printer. Edible ink manufacturers will let you know which printers their cartridges are compatible with.
While you may think that all you need to do is to give your printer a good cleaning first to keep other oil-based ink residue off the edible paper, as well as removing unwanted dirt or dust from the machine. Though this is an option, you would have to give your printer a very, very thorough cleaning. Regular printer ink is toxic if ingested, so if you plan on doing a great amount of printing with edible ink, your best bet is to obtain a printer specifically for that purpose. Otherwise you risk contaminating your tasty pictures with regular ink.
Shop around before making final choices. Choose a printer that has plenty of companies readily making edible ink for it. If you only plan on using edible ink to create pictures once or twice, you're actually safer heading to your local bakery.
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