Saturday, September 10, 2011

Purple, Oh How I Hate You

Purple is the color of royalty, and it's also the color of Tinky Winky. More important than either of those, it's the color that fades in a very annoying and unpredictable way when you use it in icing and fondant.

Purple food coloring is very volatile because of the red in it. It tends to fade to a blue color very quickly unless you do certain things to it.

I like purple as a color, but working with it can be complicated because of the fading. In addition, it doesn't photograph well, and it tends to look different in different lights. So you can match a color perfectly, then get it to the venue and the light there makes it look a lot darker, bluer, or whatever.

So how do you avoid this problem?

Some brands of food colorings are more fade-prone than others, so part of the solution is to just experiment until you find something that works for the applications you want to use it for. I find that airbrush coloring in general tends to keep its color better than paste colors. Your results may vary...

One way to be sure that your color isn't going to fade would be to use Crystal Colors, which seem to hold the color really well, to mix into the fondant or icing. The only drawback to that is that it would use a lot of the color to get a dark purple color.

The solution that I usually rely on for very dark purples is to make a lighter purple fondant or gumpaste as a base, then brush the piece with Crystal Color purple as an exterior color. The powder won't fade out, and if you start with a base of the color you won't need to use as much to get a true version of the color that you want. Doing it this way can emphasize surface flaws, though, so be careful!

Regardless of how you end up doing it, make sure to make purple items ahead of time so that you can make sure they're not going to fade or change color dramatically. It's better to have the thing you're working on fade before you put it on the cake instead of afterward.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Kristin said...

Thanks for the tips on the purple! My light purple always ends up more of a light blue!

Lena @ Miss Lucky Piggy said...

Hi Kara, may i know what is the different between Crystal Color with Lustre Dust or Petal Dust? thanks

kara said...

Lena, the Crystal Colors are FDA-approved food-safe colors that you can use to dust gumpaste or put in icing and fondant as food colors. They don't fade out, so for darker colors on gumpaste it's often easiest to just dust whatever you're making with the Crystal Colors instead of using a liquid food color.

Lustre Dust and Petal Dusts aren't approved by the FDA as food products, so they're not meant to be used to color gumpaste or icings. You can brush them on hte surface of the gumpate, but the colors aren't as intense as Crystal Colors are. For the Crystal Colors, a little goes a LONG way.

You can read the review of the new Shiny Crystal Colors on my review blog, which is located here:

Lena @ Miss Lucky Piggy said...

thanks so much, Kara. I live in Australia, I will have to find where to buy it or I just get it online from US. thanks again for your info and time, much appreciate it :-)