When I was growing up, my mother would use artificial food colouring for only two dishes: deep red for the Tandoori chicken; and every other food colour dye was used for a sweet rice with raisins, coconut and almonds (dubbed rainbow rice). Both these dishes were made for special or celebratory occasions.
I have never used artificial food colouring in any of my cooking ever, but a little while back I had wanted to experiment and make some novelty cakes with colour. I have struggled to find decent natural food colouring, those that are available via specialist stores are either too expensive, or not very good as the colours are not intense you want. I even did my research and read of ways to get natural colouring into your food without resorting to artificial food dyes.
Yellow – mix powdered turmeric with a little hot water.
Pink – The liquid of canned beetroot will give a pale pink.
Red – cook raspberries over a gentle heat, until very thick, the colour would be a reddish pink.
Violet – cook blueberries over a gentle heat, stirring often, until very thick.
Green – Use freshly juiced spinach.
Brown – Use sifted cocoa or carob powder.
Which is all fine and dandy if all you want is one particular colour, but what if I wanted a range of colours to be on hand for when I had the desire to conjure up some iced cakes. Plus I have to admit, I do know if I would have the patience or dedication to always make these from scratch. So I was nearing to making a compromise with myself to use artificial food colourings. The justification to myself was because I don’t use food colouring that often, I would only use it tentatively and on certain occasions. But then fortunately, I came across one of the supermarket stores in the UK that had its own brand of natural food colouring. The colour red was achieved with a balance of paprika and curcumin. Pink colouring includes beetroot extract, while yellow has turmeric root and blue with spirulina.
Oh my goodness could it really be true and for a fraction of the price from those specialist stores on the internet charging extortionate prices. Well I picked up some of the tiny bottles. I had tried the red in a meringue to achieve a pink cream, not a red cream and a green in my St Patricks day scones. Well a few months ago, I attempted to have a go at the famous rainbow cake, from which many other versions including cupcakes have evolved.
Oh my goodness, not only did it come out of the oven looking like dirty sponge, it tasted pretty awful too. It was so terrible looking that I dare not take a photograph to share with you, just in case it left you with a shudder and eeky feeling and that’s not good on a food blog. Plus the last thing I want to do is put anyone of a rainbow cake. To be fair, these may have been designed purely for colouring cake icing, but that is not made clear on the label. Mmm I may have try that, if it doesn't work, then I may have to go back to my original plan and compromise in using artificial colours, a little and not too often. I’ll think about it.