It's always frustrating when you've baked a perfect cake, but you just can't get your icing to the color you want. To figure out how to solve this problem, we sat down with Alchemy Baking's owner, Niki, to talk about her favorite icing tips and tricks. As a former chemist, she has a deep knowledge of how chemicals react with one another and uses this to her advantage in her cottage bakery business.
There are many different types of food coloring out there, but the Browns Kitchen Team is very loyal to the LorAnn Gel Food Coloring. Their colors are highly concentrated, yield consistent, vivid results, and blend seamlessly into any recipe. They have a wonderful color blending chart to help you achieve your dream color with their products.
If you've ever tried to make a dark red or a black icing, you know that you often end up with a neon pink or gray tone. Classic bakers will tell you that time is the best solution for this problem because if you let the icing sit with the food coloring over night, it will eventually reach the deep, rich tone you are looking for. But we know that sometimes you don't have that much time, so we asked Niki what to do when that happens! She walked us through why the colors become darker over time and what she does when she's short on time! It is important to note that Niki works exclusively with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so her methods may not transfer the same to other icing recipes.
Niki explained that the food coloring molecules want to bond to the water molecules in the icing. When the icing is in a solid state, the food coloring has to make its way past the fat molecules before it can bond to the water molecules, which takes time. To speed up this process, Niki recommends taking a small bowl of your icing, half a cup or so, and adding your food coloring into it. Once your small bowl of icing and food coloring are mixed, microwave it until the icing is melted. Once it is melted, add it back into the rest of the icing. If the color is still lighter than you want, repeat these steps until you reach your ideal color! During this process, your icing may reach a warmer temperature than it should be. If this happens, place your icing in the refrigerator until it comes back to the proper temperature and texture for decorating!
Some of her other favorite coloring tips are to use a tiny bit of brown coloring to reduce the vibrancy and create more muted tones. She also suggests using burgundy, rather than red, to create soft, pretty pinks!
If you're interested in learning more from Nikki, you can find her at www.alchemybaking.co or in a cake decorating class here at Browns Kitchen! To see her upcoming classes, visit brownskitchen.com/pages/cooking-classes.