Posts in Color History
"Cakes of Color" : Natural Food Dyes :

  Exciting news: The first book of the 7 {squared} Collection is now published and available to order online. The limited edition signed books will be in the store here in 2 weeks. I will announce.

While the "Cakes of Color" core theme is all about the multi-sensory experience of color and food ... what is less clear is that adding food dye into the cakes is optional and more importantly, there are organic options of food dye available to make or buy. An astute friend and subscriber brought this to my attention today and it's the perfect blog topic.

I personally love to play with color in baking. Here are a few ways to incorporate it.


This article, 8 Ways to Make Organic Food Coloring is excellent. I really like how she introduces other options besides beets for red. For instance, pomegranate or raspberries. In the case of the red cake, either of these options will only enhance the undertones of the cake flavor. While beet juice works nicely to deepen a chocolate cake or add color to the frosting.

Organic Food Dye Online:

For the red cake you purchase organic food dye from India Tree. I've tried it and like it. You need to use a little more than non-organice food dye, but that's okay.

For color mixing, use India Tree's 3 color set. Blue and red for the lavender cake and yellow and blue for the green tea cake and blue with a tad of red for the blue velvet cake.

Here is a recent article on FDA certified color additives and influences in children and behavior. I believe food dyes have evolved a bit from what they were but we still have reason to feel better about organic food dyes from vegetable extracts.

I hope this helps ease troubled minds about adding color to your delicious cakes.

The Color of The Universe

The book "Cakes of Color" has reached it's next step in production. I finalized the 7th test kitchen cake last week — red cake. Now I am deep into color research. Each cake recipe has an accompanying mono-print illustration and a historical note on the meaning and origins of it's dye-birth. Yesterday, I handed off some hex colors (a number) to a client to guide the specification of the product I recently designed and delivered to them. I felt slightly depressed afterwards. The colors, limestone green and ochre gray have history in ancient China's silk road and India's Hindu Gods. The challenges of making green from a vat of mud — stories of the Hindu God Krishna who charms cows with his flute; how Indian Yellow became deep ochre with earth minerals of brown and the herb Saffron. The mystery of color evolution is endless. There is no one answer or discovery — it all blends into a shared history of invention.

These stories, in addition to hard won color science discoveries are threaded into their names throughout history. Green can carry over 1k of variations and names — a history of discoveries very few know today. In * Mongolia there are over 300 names for horses. Pantone is removing names by the year. Because we are in a digital age and computers don't need names, they require numbers.

Scientists at **Johns Hopkins University measured the light of the universe and concluded the color was Pale Turquoise. They later corrected that (embarrassed) that this finding was a computer error and it is actually what they now call Cosmic Latte — off white. So there it is another side to the dark side of computing. We need it but accuracy is a tale of caution.

I'm a romantic and have a cozy affiliation with the processes and people that brought color alive in history. The dye pigments have stories within stories, adventures and lives and have earned their names that are now being slowly erased. My hope in my lil' "Cakes of Color" book is that the colors become taste memories. I imagine (colored with idealism, pun intended} the sweetness of the cakes and special notes on their color history and meaning ... that people will eat color with renewed appreciation wonderful celebration memories. I hope to give people a story to tell amongst friends at the dinner table.

Now, when it comes to the birds, it's a different matter entirely. I doubt they care about color history but take every affordance to squawk out their emotions. The yellow bird is a joiner — she's a follower all the way. Redbird is hungry — it's the attitude he carries with the most conviction. And so it goes with moody birds and the "Cosmic Latte" of our shared humanity.

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Footnotes: * "Color" Victoria Finlay p. 395 **"Color" Victoria Finlay p. 395, 429