Picking food colours

How to Colour Fondant

Every now and again I have to colour fondant. Sounds a bit odd from a cake maker, surely I do that all the time right…?

Well. Not really. Most of the time I work with white fondant and then airbrush where possible (read about my favourite airbrushes here), but sometimes a cake design or technique will call for coloured fondant.

Colouring

There are quite a few brands and types of colouring on the market including liquid, paste, gel and dust colours. The best choice for colouring fondant is either a concentrated gel or Paste colour. Dust colours are usually used to add colour to the surface of your icing, such as dusting a petal to create more depth to a flower, or used with vodka to paint onto a cake.

Paste colours are highly concentrated and only require a tiny bit to colour the icing. They also don’t change the consistency of the icing, meaning that you don’t end up in a sticky mess! I tend to use Sugarflair concentrated paste colours as they work well and come in a huge range of colours.

A big NO (yes I used shouty capitals!) is liquid food colour. Keep that for making some slime or other craft projects and keep it away from your icing! They contain a lot of liquid and not really much colour, so will make your icing rather sticky and you’ll need a whole load to get your green icing, well, green!

There are gel colours available now that are also really good. Some of my favourite are the Americolour electric gels – but if you’re in the UK do check they are ok for food use as some of them are only suitable for craft uses in the UK. The other brand I like to use are Colour Splash which come in a huge rainbow of colours, just remember a little goes a long way!

Kneading

This is where the hard work starts. Much as I’d love a big machine to do this for me, there really is nothing for it other than rolling up the sleeves and starting to knead.

I’ve found the easiest way to knead colour into a large block is to take about a handful to start and colour this a darker shade than you really need. Then add this darker portion of fondant back into the block, kneading the fondant by folding it inwards and pushing down – similar to bread kneading.  If the colour isn’t dark enough repeat this process until it is. Pretty simple right 🙂

It was recommended to me a long time ago to use the dough hook on my mixer to colour fondant. I tried it… But only once. To be honest, I found that it added a load of air bubbles to the fondant and I had to start again, which is not ideal. One day I might convince my husband to build me a fondant kneading machine, but until then – muscle power is the way to go.

Checking colour

Nothing worse than rolling out your lovely fondant to the perfect size for covering your awaiting cake to find a big line of colouring in the middle (unless of course you were aiming for a marbled effect – in which case – YAY!). To check that the fondant has been evenly coloured, roll the whole block into a fat sausage and then use a sharp knife to cut it in half. Look at the cut ends and check if there are any seams of colour – if there are then get those arm muscles working again. If not, you’re good to go!

Colour Removal Tip

Removing food colour can be a bit of a pain and there have been times when a trip to the supermarket for supplies has involved a lot of strange looks when I get to the counter with bright pink hands… but here’s my tip. Shampoo. Yes, that’s right  – shampoo. I don’t know what it has in it (not sure I want to know!) but washing your hair will get rid of the food colouring, and not onto your hair either!

Prevention is also better than cure, and whenever colouring fondant I would recommend wearing gloves.

If you get colour on your cake somewhere you didn’t intend it, vodka is my turn to – dampen some kitchen roll and gently dab at the colour to pull it off your icing.

Do you have any tips on how to colour fondant? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Jenni