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As a stay at home mum I am often making lots of fun cakes and cookies not only for my kids and husband to enjoy but for the many birthday parties and mummy and baby get togethers we have. One of the easy ways I find to decorate my fares is with good colouring and I use the Dr Oetker range.
Dr Oetker say that, "Food colours can be added to sponges, icings or chocolate to add fun and colour to any creation." They have a range of different bright colours that can be achieved by using the easy bottles for drop by drop dosage.
I like to use the liquid food colouring as I find it really easy to use and it works with the icing I like to use. I like to make my icing with icing sugar so I will quickly whip up a bowl or two of icing and then I can make exactly the shade of colour I want. For example with red food colouring you can use just a few drops and you get a really nice pink but then if you add a lot of the liquid colouring you get a nice deep red.
The little bottles are glass with a screw top lid which is easy to take on and off. At the top of the bottle is a little plastic stopper that means the liquid does not pour out but comes out drop by drop instead meaning you get exactly the amount you need rather than a lot of the liquid pouring out and messing up your icing.
Each little bottle costs in the £1-2 region so they are not too expensive and are a really nice way to decorate cakes and cookies.
I've recently taken to baking cakes - I don't do it very often but seeing the 'Great British Bake Off' return recently made me get the scales out and get baking some basic recipes! I bought some of Dr Oetker's food colourings from Tesco last year (to help make some Halloween goodies) and have recently used them again a few times in cake decoration. At the time, they were on a 3 for 2 offer in Tesco, but today I don't think that offer is available. It costs around £1 for a bottle containing 38ml. The bottles I have, which are the 'natural colouring' ones from their range, state that they are suitable for vegetarians.
Today, I'm reviewing the Dr Oetker natural red colouring as that's the one I've used the most so can give the best opinion on but they are very similar. There are a wide range of colours available - I've used blue, green and black before now too. I used the red colouring first last year for my Halloween cakes, to decorate 'eerie eyeball' cakes for a party we had and I used the red to represent blood on them. The recipe I followed recommended using a paintbrush to decorate so that's what I did - this red colouring did the trick and looked fantastic. It's great for decorating with a paintbrush due to it's gloopiness - I find that it's quite thick if the bottle isn't shaken so it's easy to gather on the brush to decorate fondant icing. On that occasion, I dipped the brush into the pot directly and didn't encounter any problems. The colouring dries quickly on the whole, I'd say under an hour, although I found that the thicker parts I painted on the icing took longer to dry and some parts that were very thick didn't dry completely even after waiting a good few hours. It results in a very bright red, but if applied thickly will look a bit darker.
I have also used this colouring on a teaspoon to add to a mixture to dye it's colour although great care is needed when using it like this. The bottle needs shaking before use (with care!). On most occasions when I've used it, the colouring has blobbed out of the bottle so fast that it's been lucky not to spill everywhere. I've learnt to place the colouring onto a spoon over the sink now rather than over my mixture - otherwise it would end up ruining the mixture by adding far too much to it. I find a very small amount of this goes a long way - for example last week I made cupcakes with a pink buttercream topping and I only used two very small dots of this in the mixture to turn it pink. That was in buttercream to cover 12 cupcakes. 38ml of colouring doesn't seem a lot on the surface but my bottle is still half full and has been used as part of around 10 recipes so far, in differing amounts. Obviously for darker red colouring, more would be needed.
I find that the colouring has a very sweet taste, so on the whole I don't tend to use a lot unless the cake needs to be decorated with red specifically, like in the case of the Halloween ones I did. It's so sweet that I don't find it's particularly nice tasting although if I'm adding a small amount to a mixture, like to buttercream, the taste isn't that noticeable.
One final thing to note is that it can get extremely messy to use! I often end up with bright red hands no matter how careful I am taking the lid off, using and then replacing it. The colouring tends to gather around the top of the lid so it's inevitable that some ends up over my hands. The good thing is it washes off easily. Luckily I've not managed to get any on my clothes so I'm not sure how it comes out of clothing.
All in all, I would recommend this food colouring with careful use - it's made a nice addition to some of my recipes and helped decorate some of my cakes nicely. It just needs a careful and steady hand to use it. I've rated it four stars overall, I feel the bottle could be designed slightly better to include some sort of stopper so it doesn't blob out so quickly.
Ingredients - Beetroot Red, Paprika Extract, Mylose Syrup, Emulsifier: Polysorbate 80, Glycerine, Water, Antioxidants: Disodium EDTA, Sodium Ascorbate, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate
Thanks for reading :o)
I used Dr Oetker food colourings a few times in the past because they were readily available from my local Tesco. I don't do loads of baking, just little bits here and there (e.g. birthday cakes or special occasion cupcakes) so I'd never really considered looking for an alternative until the Christmas just gone.
For around £1 per bottle, these seemed like good value. Having previously had no experience with other food colourings, I couldn't really judge the standard and just assumed that since these worked, it didn't matter that the colours came out a bit different to what I was expecting. I just assumed it was perhaps due to my not adding enough colour or using an inferior oven etc.
When I used the red colouring and came out with vile smelling, horrific tasting cupcake icing at Christmas though - I realised it was generally a load of rubbish and decided to look into what other colourings were available.
After that incident, having binned a whole tray of cupcakes I'd spent hours working on, I asked on my facebook page if someone could recommend an alternative - and they suggested I buy Sugarflair colours. They were over twice the price but I decided to give them a go anyway. Suffice to say I have never, and would never, go back to Dr Oetker colours after discovering that there are real food colours out there that actually work as expected and leave no funny smell or after taste! I've also found that I only need to use a tiny bit of a good quality food colouring like Sugarflair, whereas I was using large quantities of the much cheaper Dr Oetker - it's a false economy.
I can't bring myself to give this product more than a single star. The blue comes out like a green once baked, the red tastes vile, and none of the colours I've tried from this range come out even close to the colour expected. I won't ever use it again.
I poured and I mixed and I poured and I mixed a bit more and more and more and still my butter icing was a dingy washed out pale green colour. Possibly this would be fine for a delicate cake, but when I brought my Dr Oetker green food colouring from Tesco, for £1.04, it was with the plan of making my daughter a cake with a pony's head on and bright green butter icing as the background to resemble grass. This pathetic insipid colour was not going to make acceptable grass at all. I therefore had to dig out my old bottle of Langdale green food colouring instead and use this. Fortunately I'd not yet thrown it out, but had planned to as I'd brought the new one when I realised that this was a full two years out of date, but needs must and I didn't have time to go back to the shops so I just had to chance it (we're all still alive so hopefully no harm done!). No more than a quarter of a teaspoon later and the icing had acquired the rich vibrant green that I'd intended and grass was achieved.
Marzipan carrots also featured on the cake and green was again needed for the stalks. I decided to give Dr Oetker the benefit of the doubt and see how it coped in colouring marzipan. A mistake; there was no way that this was going to be strong enough to overcome the yellow colour of the marzipan and all it achieved was a few wishy washy stripes, so again Langdales came to the rescue.
Two days on and the cake made for the children's party was all gone, but with a family celebration due and half of the sugar paste and marzipan still left, I decided to resurrect the pony cake again. This time I left the Dr Oetker colouring well alone, but experimented with my butter icing to make a comparison of the pastel colours that could be achieved. With just two drops of the Langdale colouring I had achieved a very pleasing clean fresh pale green that was so much more appealing than the slightly greyish one that had been achieved with the use of far more Dr Oetker. A few more drops on and we were back with the striking bright green again. This confirmed for me that even if my need was for a pastel colour I would choose other brands and avoid Dr Oetker.
The Dr Oetker food colouring bottle is a standard shape and size for this kind of product and contains 38ml of dark green liquid. It has a red screw on lid featuring the lot number and sell by date and a yellow neck label with the Dr Oetker logo. The main label is green and also states that it contains green food colour. The directions state not to exceed one teaspoon per 250g icing. Ooops I think I exceeded this by about three times in my belief that If I added a bit more colouring then my icing may begin to resemble grass. The label also states that this is suitable for vegetarians and provides customer service contact details and a list of ingredients.
I made a comparison of the ingredients in the two products and was surprised to find that with the exception of water there were no common ingredients. This is where I found the one positive point about the Dr Oetker product; there appear to be no E numbers. This is obviously a major positive factor especially if you are catering for anyone who does not respond well to food with E numbers in. The Langdales product contains both colouring and acidity E numbers. I am sure that it is this objective of not including E numbers that gives the lacklustre appearance of the foods coloured with Dr Oetker and the Tartrazine and brilliant blue colourings in the Langdale that enable it to achieve a greater spectrum of green shades. It therefore can only be personal preference and how strongly you feel about the presence of E numbers that guides your decision of whether to use this product or not. Personally, with no awareness that I am feeding anyone with adverse reactions to E numbers I would choose the E number rich product to allow me to create a more pleasing end product. I am pleased, however, to know that there is food colouring on the market catering for those with allergies and I therefore award it one more star than I would otherwise have done.
Food colouring is a staple item in my house, but not just for food. Dr Oetker produces a range of colours available in most grocery stores. You will usually find the basic, red , yellow, green and blue, as well as black.
The colours are available in a natural range, which is of course more expensive, and the ordinary range. I am not sure about prices but think the ordinary colours are near 40p and the naturals about twice that at Tesco.
I have found the natural colours are also far less concentrated, so more will be required to produce the same results. Black on the other hand, is only available in the artificial colour ranges, and is still not at all concentrated and very difficult to get a true black result from. In fact I do not recommend this colour as I think melted dark chocolate gives a much better result in most cases - and tastes better too. I have used black though to die cake icing, which was then shaped much like plasticine into Pingu and his family for the top of a cake.
Some of the foods I use food colourings for are - cakes and cookies ( they do bake out some though, much of the colour is lost in cooking), home made ice cream, and icing. I also colour the rolls of ready to use icing and make cake toppers with these. Coloured ice cream is very fun when making cones shaped like animals, pink pigs, green frogs, or blue fish. You can also colour ice cubes, using a good bit of food colour. When dropped into a white lemonade they will colour the drink - fun for Halloween parties and such. I suppose the most unusual food we have coloured is green eggs and spam. Yes, spam, I found it much easier to colour than ordinary ham, and while it tastes exactly the same, there is just something about eating green meat that my body seems to recoil from. I am afraid I do not like Green Eggs and ham.
At Easter we always make old fashioned coloured eggs with these colours and a bit of vinegar as well.
My sons absolutely love colouring the eggs and while they get plenty of chocolate eggs as well, at least the hard boiled eggs are healthy.
Our biggest use for food colour at the moment though is baths. My sons love each getting a tiny bit in a bottle to colour their bath water. Sometimes they both get the same colour, other times they get different colours so they can mix them to make a new colour. I find this less expensive then most bath products, more fun , and easy on my sons delicate skin.
Food colouring is also handy for crafts. Mixed with a standard school glue it can make a very nice paint, especially for things like clay as it also holds the project together. A clear drying glue mixed with blue and painted over aluminium foil will create a lovely effect for water in pictures or other art projects. I plan to use clear drying glue and food colour over foil for planets in my sons space book as well. This paint will obviously stick very well on many surfaces, and yet is usually washable if cleaned up wet. Because of the food dye though there is a risk of staining so obviously a child should not use this in their best clothes.You can of course mix food colours right into home made play dough. Another really fun use is to colour saw dust green. This then makes the perfect substrate for dioramas. I have also coloured fine sand for sand painting, or even salt. You just let it dry completely, make designs with glue and sprinkle the coloured sand or salt over the paper. Coloured sand or salt can also be layered in small bottles for a pretty effect. Even washed out bottles from food colour will do :)
I do find the artificial colours work better for most crafts projects, and since you will not be eating it anyway, it is hardly worth paying extra for natural colours.
I will note it can be difficult to get this completly off skin as well and it usually takes a couple of days after Easter before my sons hands are completey free of colour. Many years ago my husband used to drink ( he no longer drinks at all). I did very much want to get him passed out sometime when he had a holiday from work coming up and paint him yellow. He would have looked just like Homer simpson :) I would not advise this for Halloween or anyhting unless you want to risk staying whatever colour for a few days though.