How To Shape And Curl Wafer Paper Leaves For Cake Decorating

Wafer paper leaves are a good alternative to gumpaste and fondant, but to make them look more realistic you might want to shape them

This can be done using steam, which makes the wafer paper curl as the moisture is absorbed into the starch in the paper. You could also fold the leaves

how to curl wafer paper leaves

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How To Curl Wafer Paper Leaves.

If your wafer paper leaves are printed on both sides, you can use steam to curl them so that both sides show. If they’re only printed on one side you mgiht only want to fold them down the center of the spine of the leaf, which I’ll go over in the next section.

wafer paper autumn leaves
Fall edible leaves for cakes

To steam the leaves, wave them over a pan of boiling water or in the steam from a clothes steamer. The steam will curl the wafer paper and give the printed leaves a realistic shape.

Don’t hold them in one place for long, because that can let too much water get into the leaf and that can make them sag and shrivel up. You want to just give them a little exposure to the steam to curl them a bit.

Some wafer paper leaves can be really tiny, so they can’t really be steamed easily. Larger leaves, like these wafer paper edible aspen leaves, are easier to curl using steam, but you should still be careful to keep your fingers protected from the steam if it’s hot.

aspen wafer paper leaves
aspen wafer paper leaves

You need to be very careful when working with hot steam because it can burn you!

It doesn’t take long to get the leaves to curl, it should only be a few seconds.

Once the leaf curls, put it on a tray away from the steam, and it will dry quickly and keep the shape that it had when the steam was applied.

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How to fold wafer paper leaves.

If you only want to fold the leaves on the center vein, you can moisten the center vein with wafer paper conditioner then let it sink in for a few seconds before gently folding it.

Folding wafer paper can be difficult if the paper gets too wet, so make sure to use a very, very small amount of moisture on the paper so that you don’t melt it.

You can also steam the leaves then gently fold them while they’re still flexible from the steam. Do this carefully so that you don’t smear the edible ink on the paper.

In addition, you can wire and vein the edible fall leaves, then curl or fold them too. This will give you a way to insert the leaves into an arrangement so that they can be manipulated with the wires.

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Using wafer paper conditioner to curl the leaves.

Another way to curl the leaves would be to apply a little bit of wafer paper conditioner to the paper in order to let them curl from that moisture.

If you spray the paper and let it sink in, it will make the paper curl up, but not to the same extent that steaming them will.

You need to be careful if you brush the conditioner onto printed wafer paper, because the bristles can smear the edible ink.

Spraying the conditioner on will let it disperse without smearing the ink, but it’s easy to apply too much this way. Start out with one spray, then let it sink in.

If the paper doesn’t curl as much as you want it to after a few minutes, spray again, but don’t overdo it.

If you overspray the leaf if can shrivel up, so if that happens don’t touch it until it dries out a little.

If it gets soft but doesn’t shrivel, you can put the leaf on a drying mat to let it dry out a little, but it’s better to not get it too wet to begin with. 

How to attach the edible leaves to the cake.

When you have enough edible wafer paper fall leaves ready, you can attach them to a buttercream cake using a little extra icing, or by pressing them into the icing on the cake. You can also add the leaves to edible branches and attach the entire piece to the cake.

wafer paper leaves on a cake
Edible wafer paper fall leaves on a cake

If the cake is covered with fondant, some piping gel or corn syrup can be used as an edible glue to stick the leaves onto the cake. For buttercream, you can use some extra buttercream and press the leaves onto the icing using that as the glue.

Watch out for the ink on the back of the leaves to transfer to the cake, because when the leaves get wet the ink can come off. If you need to reposition the leaves you might end up with marks that you can’t remove.

If you have wired leaves, don’t insert the wires directly into the cake. Put them into a plastic straw and use that to insert into the cake to prevent the wires from touching it.

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