Cakes are amazing! We use them as markers of special occasions and even give them as gifts to our beloved. Icing makes cakes all the more special; your cake looks better in your pictures and even taste better. Food coloring, or food dyes is the key in giving your cake icing the look you desire. You can easily get creative with the overall cake appearance.
What are food coloring?
Food coloring traditionally comes in two forms; liquid and gel. Your approach will depend largely on the form of food coloring you choose to use, and the kind of icing you’re working with.
Liquid Food Coloring
Generic liquid food coloring
Commonly found in any grocery store or specialty shop. Liquid food coloring are water based food coloring. It is very watery and not as concentrated as the gel, or powder type. Be careful when using liquid food coloring with recipes that requires less water, because the added water from this food coloring can add more water than intended to your recipe. You can start dropping the coloring after adding some of the liquid you intend to use for the icing (milk, syrup, etc). After you have the intended color, go ahead and add the remaining liquid till you get your desired consistency.
Gel Food Coloring
Gel food coloring is super concentrated food coloring with the highest amount of color pigment per milligrams. Bakers traditionally use a tooth pick to "scoop" a small amount gel to add to their icing. The advantage of gel food coloring is that it has much less effect on the overall mixture thickness than liquid, so you might want to consider using more of gel food coloring in a wide range of icing, frosting or batter.
Liqua-Gel 12 colors kit from Chefmaster®
Recently, more bakers are enjoying Liqua-Gel, a type of food coloring that is not as concentrated as gel, but also not too watery as liquid. As its name suggest, Liqua-Gel is a form of food coloring that sit between Liquid and Gel. This type of food coloring brings the advantage of both traditional forms, while making it much simpler to apply to anything with sugar & in meringue recipes.
Regardless of your food coloring preference, it’s up to the baker’s skill to bring the about the best result. Here are recipes for some of the most popular cake icing.
Buttercream is a soft cake icing that is made by adding milk, icing sugar and vanilla to butter. They are added until the mixture looks pale. The icing can be used to cover the whole cake or as patterns. Buttercream is soft, but can become more stable when refrigerated. You should note that buttercream icing only holds for some days. Also it readily melts, so be sure to always keep it cool.
125 g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups (240 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it’s white.
- Add half of the icing sugar gradually.
- Add the rest of the icing sugar.
- Add your preferred flavors and colors.
Ingredients7 cup icing sugar sifted
1 1/2 tbsp. glycerin
1/2 cup glucose syrup
1 tbsp. gelatin powder
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp. vanilla essence
- Sift the icing sugar into a large non-metal bowl and then make a well in the center.
- In a small saucepan, add water and gelatin. Over a low heat, dissolve the gelatin. Do not let it boil.
- Remove saucepan from the heat and add the glycerin and glucose syrup. Stir until combined well, then add vanilla essence.
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the well in the icing sugar.
- Mix until all of the icing sugar is combined with the mixture. Knead the icing until it is well combined and smooth.
To make this frosting, you will need caster sugar, egg whites and water. These are whipped together before they are spread on the cake. You should be careful with this frosting because it sets very quickly, so your spreading should be done in seconds. Also, if you live in an area with high humidity, this kind of frosting may not be a good choice for you.
2 egg whites
425 g caster sugar
100 ml water
- Using a hand-held electric beater, whisk egg whites in the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until very stiff.
- In a separate pan, dissolve the sugar in the water.
- Boil for 5-10 minutes until the liquid is thick and syrupy and has reached the 'thread' stage - when the last few drops that fall from a metal spoon come off in one long syrupy thread.
- Pour the syrup over the egg whites, whisking all the time.
- Return the bowl to above the saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk for 10-15 minutes or until the icing is white, very thick and meringue-like.
A bit of Candy Color(oil-based food coloring) can work wonder for your ganache
The major ingredient of this icing is chocolate; either the white or dark type. If white chocolate is used, it can be colored to taste. You need to be cautious when selecting the kind of cake to use Ganache icing on. Because it’s thick, it may not go well on light cakes like sponges. Rather you should combine it with heavier ones like mud cake and the likes. You can do the shiny Ganache look or the Matte Ganache finish.
Since ganache is chocolate, you can not use regular food coloring with it. Chocolate is oil-based; it will "seize", and ruin your chocolate if you add any water-based substance, including food coloring.
So how do you color chocolate?
It's simple, just use oil-based food coloring instead. Oils goes with oils!
300 ml cream
600 g chocolate
- Boil cream, then remove from the heat.
- Add the chopped chocolate
- Mix until the ganache is smooth.
- Allow the icing to cool completely before using, and if it's too hard gently heat in the microwave to return to a spreadable consistency.
Cream cheese icing
Cream cheese icing is made from combining butter, icing sugar and of course cream cheese. It is mostly used on cupcakes, but when fluffed up can work for other cakes too.
30 g butter, softened
80 g cream cheese, softened
1½ cups (240 g) sifted icing sugar
- Beat butter and cheese in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and airy.
- Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until the icing is fluffy.
Royal Icing's application on a sugar cookie
Egg whites, icing sugar and acetic acid; these are the components of royal icing. However, you should be cautious when adding royal icing because it becomes really hard once it’s set and adjustments will be impossible. The hardness gives you an advantage though; the cake won’t be easily messed up if it will be moved around. It is also very good for piping designs on the cake and adding decorations.
1½ cups pure icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white
4 drops acetic acid
- Lightly beat egg white in a small bowl.
- Add icing sugar one tablespoonful at a time, beating well after each addition.
- When icing reaches the desired consistency, add acetic acid and beat well.
You might want to try one or two of these recipes sometime. The processes are quite easy, and the ingredients can be easily sourced. Don’t forget to get creative with food coloring. Now go make memories!