How to get deep colors in buttercream
Posted: 16 May 2010 11:43 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I know I don’t post here often, but I really appreciate coming here for advice. In that light, here’s something I can use some help with. I’m doing a cake for a friend’s anniversary. She asked to have the colors from their wedding on the cake: navy blue and silver. I’d like to do the frosting in navy blue and the decorations in silver. It’ll be an 8 inch cake on bottom with a 6 inch on top. For the bottom, she just wants standard American buttercream (butter and powdered sugar), and I suggested doing mousseline on the top tier (though she’d be fine with both tiers in the buttercream). I’m hoping they wouldn’t look too different, but I’m open to suggestions if anyone thinks they would. But my main question is how do I get the buttercream and mousseline (or just buttercream) a nice deep navy blue? Will the professional gel or powders available at cake supply stores work? Is there any particular tricks anyone has to recommend to get those dark colors?

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Posted: 17 May 2010 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I would use fondant instead of buttercream - because the amount of color you need to get the shade you want will change the taste of the buttercream.  If you use fondant, you can use airbrush color and paint it (carefully, so you avoid brush strokes.  With a dark color you’re better off airbrushing but if you don’t have an airbrush you can use a sponge or paintbrush to apply it.  With dark colors you have to be careful not to keep going over one area, otherwise you remove the color.)  Or use luster dust to paint (mix it with lemon extract) fondant.

Or would you be able to use ribbon to add color?

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Posted: 17 May 2010 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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She doesn’t want a fondant cover, so I’m working with buttercream. I didn’t think of that until a bit ago, but you’re very right that the amount of coloring it would take to get the color I want would certainly not only make the buttercream taste bad, it would likely also color the mouth of anyone who ate it. Dang it. It would look so good, but only with fondant. So as a modification on this idea, maybe I’ll use just some navy blue fondant strips (like ribbons), as I’d like to keep it as all-edible as possible. I have some ideas for how to make the design still incorporate her colors. As a related question, then, is if anyone has a good recommendation to get the fondant a navy blue. I’ve tried to get darker colors with my fondant (I make my own marshmallow fondant) with mixed results. I’ve seen some recommendations to mix just a touch of black in with a dark blue coloring. Any other tips?

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Posted: 17 May 2010 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I gave up trying to get a deep navy blue fondant; now I just use the super blue luster to paint on fondant.  Easier and tastier; and you don’t run the risk of making the fondant slack from adding so much color.

But, do you know the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook?  In it, Liv Hanson has a recipe for the “house buttercream” which the new owners inherited when they bought the bakery.  Because it contains shortening as well as butter, it holds color well and they use this for all their “whimsical” cakes with neon colors.  So you might be able to assemble and coat your cake with your usual buttercream (or a meringue buttercream) and then apply a final coat of the colored buttercream.  It will still not be great, and you’re correct that it will stain teeth and tongues for anyone who gets one of those outside pieces of cake but it’s another option.

Personally I am not a fan of shortening in buttercream because of the taste, but it has it’s usefulness and color is one of them!

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