Monday, December 28, 2015

Natural Food Coloring Powder - Creative Coloring for Creative Cakes

Frosting is not good for us. Ironically, you can add things that are good for you to create some pretty awesome all natural food colors!

Cake frosting is almost all refined sugar and fat, and even if you use organic palm kernel oil and fair trade powdered sugar you are still getting a ton of calories and not much in the nutrition department. Using natural food coloring powder can quell the pangs of calorie regret you may otherwise have also ingesting coloring agents that have a list of infamous side effects.

Natural Blue Food Coloring  - Spirulina Powder 

Spirulina is a blue-green algae used as a multivitamin supplement. Thankfully due to it's popularity, it can be found in the supplement section of many grocery stores. It comes in many forms, but the ones you  can use here are loose powder and powder in a gelatin capsule. Leave the tablet form on the shelf. Even if you could crush the tablet, it contains binders you don't want in your frosting.

Blue is a tough color to get in nature. I've used expensive all natural liquid food coloring purchased at Whole Foods and ended up with a gloppy mess trying to get the color intensity I was looking for. I had some spirulina powder in my supplement cupboard and tried it one year and have used it ever since. It gives a rich greenish-blue color and can be added to other colors to make them a deeper shade. Due to it's somewhat large grain it is a bit mottled, but still is small enough to make an even enough color.

Natural Red Food Coloring  - Cranberry Powder 

Red is a red-ily (pun intended) available color in nature, and as such there are many things you can use to make frosting a pink, or even a reddish hue. Beet powder is used as a natural colorant in factory made confections, and it is available as a supplement, but it is not widely available.

This is where cranberry powder comes in. Everyone who has ever had a UTI knows that cranberry supplements are all over the place. They come in everything to drink mixes to liquigels, but to color frosting, use loose cranberry powder or cranberry powder in the gelatin caps that have one ingredient.

To get the color above, I opened up six capsules to 1 cup of frosting. It blended nicely and tastes delicious! My daughter loved the pink on her birthday cake. and kept telling me the pink frosting was the best tasting as well. 

Natural Yellow Food Coloring  - Turmeric Powder 

This shouldn't be much of a surprise. Turmeric has been used for centuries, even millennia, to give curry a yellowish tinge, but it is also great for frosting as well. The deep yellow orange powder quickly changes frosting to a bright vibrant yellow. Just use a small amount, mix it in thoroughly, and add more if necessary. You'll be surprised how little it takes to make a very bright color.

Recent studies indicate that turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, helps the body fight certain cancer's better and those populations who eat between 100 and 200 milligrams per day over a long period of time have lower cancer rates. It is used in everything from soup to salsa, and is a certified coloring agent in the UK.

Frosting Flops and Fanfare

You might expect these colors to change the taste, but they don't, excepting for the cranberry which brings an ever so slightly fruity flavor. I have tried other things to color frosting, like reduced blueberry juice, which was an epic fail. Nothing I've found works quite as well as these three powders. 

Natural Food Coloring for FrostingPowder coloring agents in general work better for frosting which, by their nature, are finicky to the addition of any liquid. Liquids such as the gel or alcohol found in manufactured food coloring can make the frosting change behavior while in the frosting bag, which can make frosting a big pain in the palm.

The drawback to powders is they are somewhat difficult to mix. It takes a bit of beating to get the color uniform, but not so much more that you can't accomplish the task by hand. 

Next time you pretty up a birthday cake, hit your local vitamin store instead of the baking isle. Tell them sent you. ;) Now, let's go have some colorful gluten free fun!


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