Wafer-Papering Technique Tips
Wafer-papering is relatively new to cookie decorating and involves nothing more than a simple cut-and-paste technique. For the uninitiated, wafer papers are thin, translucent sheets of dehydrated potato starch, water, and vegetable oil, which come both plain and pre-printed with food-safe dyes in many patterns. The most extensive source of papers that I’ve found is fancyflours.com. Read on for more details and/or check out Lesson 12 in my cookie decorating video series.
What you’ll need:
- As many topcoated gingerbread or sugar cookies as you want to decorate (see my Royal Icing recipe and related cookie recipes, coming soon)
- Wafer paper(s) of choice
- Cookie cutter used to cut the cookies being decorated
- Pen or pencil for tracing
- Corn syrup
- Small sponge brush
1 | Wafer paper will only adhere well to cookies that have been topcoated with Royal Icing or covered with fondant (which I am less inclined to do, since I’m not a huge fan of the flavor and texture of fondant). For the easiest and least messy paper application, allow top coats and fondant coverings to dry until completely firm, ideally overnight.
2 | You can either completely cover a cookie with wafer paper or cover only select parts of the cookie, as I have in the photos to the right. (The checked pattern on the bottom of the basket is wafer paper applied to white Royal Icing; the floral patterns on the hat brims are wafer paper applied to white and pink Royal Icing; and the black checked paper on the dresses has been applied to various colors of icing. Because the paper is translucent, a hint of the underlying icing color will always show through.) The wafer paper must first be cut to fit your icing topcoat, not the cookie itself. (Remember, wafer paper will not stick well to naked cookies.) The best way to size the paper to the icing is to trace the outline of the cookie (or cookie part) onto the back side of the wafer paper using the cookie cutter that cut the cookie as your guide. Cut out the shape and then gradually trim it down to fit the icing and to remove all tracing marks, snipping off tiny portions as you go. Be careful not to get the wafer paper wet (it will wrinkle or dissolve) or to handle it too aggressively (it is rather fragile and can tear easily.)
3 | The rest is easy. Turn the wafer paper cutout over, and paint a thin schmear of corn syrup on the back side with a small sponge brush. (Again, be careful not to paint too aggressively, or you will rip the paper.) Turn the paper right side up, and fix it onto the icing. Smooth out any bubbles by running your fingers gently over the paper, and press down all edges well, as they otherwise have a tendency to lift. Keep your fingers free of water and corn syrup as you do this. Any water or corn syrup will spot the paper.
Easter Basket with Checked Paper
Photo by Julia M. Usher
Easter Bonnets with Papered Brims
Photo by Julia M. Usher
Fiesta Dresses with Checked Paper
Photo by Julia M. Usher
Some people recommend turning the cookie over and drying for 30 minutes upside down - I presume to keep the paper from buckling. But I’ve always dried right side up with no trouble whatsoever; in fact, I believe the paper dries more quickly this way. Once the paper has dried, apply Royal Icing borders to conceal the edge of the paper. (If you add icing borders while the paper is still moist, the edges are more likely to lift.)
For more wafer-papering details, see Lesson 12 in my new video series, available on DVD here or in the link below. Confused about the difference between wafer paper and other edible papers? Check out my Edible Papers 101 video on YouTube:
May your dreams be sweet as you delicious cookies. How i can translate the recipe in dutch. November it’s my birthday and celebrate 50. A happy day with many flowers, do you have some idea for me about flowers i liked? Pls. can you help me? I hope you can read,understand my english. Have a nice weekend, Julia.
By G.v.Henneigen on January 20, 2013
Hi, G. V., Happy upcoming birthday!! If you’d like to translate anything on my site, the best suggestion I have is to copy the text into Google Translate and see what you comes back! I don’t speak or write Dutch, unfortunately. You also asked whether I had any ideas for flowers - though I’m not sure what you mean. Real or cookie flowers? If cookie flowers, here’s a sweet set of flower vases that I made recently: http://www.juliausher.com/gallery/entry/budding_beauties/cookies/
Please note, I only make cookies for books and magazines, I do not produce cookies for sale to customers. I hope I’ve at least partially answered your questions. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
By Julia M Usher on January 20, 2013
I really enjoy learning from you Hon!! I’ve definately improved!! I’ve got a long way to go though. . Hahahaaaa But I’m eager to learn!
My son has just achieved his Eagle Scout title and I would like to make him Badge cookies. I’ve never worked with rice paper before. Do you have any suggestions As to how to go about getting it done?
By Valerie Povanda-Anderson on March 30, 2015
Hi, Valerie! Thanks so much - glad to hear you’re improving. You could make the badge cookies so many different ways - traced and piped, traced and painted, or printed on edible paper. The choice really depends on your comfort/skill level with each approach. Printing on edible paper is probably the easiest method, though if you don’t have a printer dedicated to food coloring, then you’ll need to find someone to print them for you. There are also different types of edible paper to consider - wafer paper and frosting sheets are the primary ones. The latter are thicker and less transparent, and many prefer them for printing, though the thickness is a bit of a flavor/texture detractor, in my opinion. Both get applied much as I described above. (P.S. Wafer paper is typically made of potato starch; frosting sheets of tapioca starch - neither are really “rice paper” in most cases.) Hope this gives you some direction. Thanks again for the kind words.
By Julia M Usher on March 31, 2015
I’ve watched through so many of your cookie decorating videos, and have to commend you on how informative and helpful they have been. I’ve been the go-to person for friends and family when it comes to decorated cupcakes, but had a request for decorated cookies for a baby shower and didn’t have any issues at all following your instructions on icing consistency and decorating. But I think what I like most of all are the low-tech ways you do things that save us money in the long run!
Looking forward to making some 3D cookies next.
By Caroline on June 30, 2015
Thanks so much, Caroline! I really appreciate you tuning into my channel! And I look forward to seeing your 3-D cookies!