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The Use of Coloring in Icing

Aug 17, 2007
Although several coloring agents are available, paste colors have been found to be the most generally satisfactory. The range of colors available to the decorator, in addition to the primaries - red, blue and yellow - includes violet, green, brown and pink. The color wheel, of course, shows us that we can get along very well with only the 3 primaries.

In using paste colors, it is well to remember that a little goes a long way. A relatively small amount of the intense paste color will tint a large amount of white icing. The colored icing and not the paste colors are used in mixing other colors, since paste colors by themselves are too intense for accurate color blending. We do, however, use paste colors full strength when we add them to water to prepare a colored spray. The illustrations on the preceding page demonstrate step by step the approved method of color mixing and blending.

The color wheel tells us how to obtain any color from various combinations of the three primary colors. It remains now to modify the colors obtained (dark or light - warm or cold) to suit our requirements. For example: we mix a small amount of blue icing and a small amount of yellow icing and blend the two together to obtain a green icing. Chances are that the resulting color will be too deep (too green) for, let us say, spring foliage. We simply add more yellow to the mixture to get a "spring" green and then blend in enough white icing to obtain the light tint required.

After we have learned to produce any color we require, we can then consider some refinements in the use of color. For example: a cake decorated with bright colored flowers may appear too "contrast" because of the strength and variety of the colors used. The contrast can be reduced and the color scheme rendered more harmonious by adding very small amounts of the colors of each flower into the green of its leaves. This is called "graying" and is very effective especially when the color is left in streaks rather than thoroughly mixed into the green.

In general avoid deep colors except for small areas (accents) and perhaps in Christmas and Halloween cakes. Follow nature in choosing color schemes and allow your creative imagination to guide you.

Spatula Striping is the most usual color blending method. After placing a tube in the cone, use a small bow knife and put a one inch strip of colored icing down the entire side of the cone. After striping the cone, fill the remainder of the cone with white icing. As an example, let's say you want to make some pink and white roses. The pink will appear on the inside, of the rose and the white should be out at the tips. This simulates the way nature bleaches out the rose at the tips of the petals. In this case you would strip the large side of a No. 104 tube in pink icing with a strip approximately 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch wide and the remainder would be filled with white icing. Then as you make your rose, the petals will be pink except for the tips which are white.

This method of striping can and should be used on borders. In making a shell border with a large star tube, the cone should have a narrow strip of colored icing on one side. The rest of the cone is filled with white icing. This gives the border a beautiful two-tone effect.
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