Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lime Cake Shouldn't Be Green

If you squeeze a lime, what color is the juice? It's not bright green. So why would you think that a lime cake should be green?

If lime juice or oil is used to flavor the batter, it isn't going to change the color of the cake unless food coloring is also involved.

Same goes for strawberry, lemon, orange and any other number of cake flavors. The bright colors that people associate with those flavors come directly from food colorings, not from the natural flavorings that come from the fruit itself.

Look at these two buttercreams. One is unflavored Italian meringue, the other is lemon. It has both lemon curd and lemon juice in it. They look remarkably similar, don't they? Now, if I had taken yellow food coloring and added it to the one on the left, you might think that was the lemon one. But no, the one on the right is lemon.

So what's a scratch baker to do? I know that a lot of people use jello to flavor their cakes, which would give you the fluorescent color that people associate with laffy taffy and other candy flavors. I only use natural flavorings though, so they don't usually include food colorings.

Well, I don't do anything. I just make sure that the cake tastes like what it is. Strawberry cakes might be a little pinker than usual because of the strawberries that are in the batter, but they don't look like dayglow cotton candy. My lime cakes aren't green at all, but you can rest assured that they taste like limes.

I know that "people eat with their eyes first" but I'm not willing to add food coloring to something just to make people think they're eating a specific flavor. To tell the truth, many bland cakes have food coloring in them to make people think they taste more like what they're supposed to be, even if they really don't.

I'll stick to making cakes using the actual natural ingredients, and if people are confused by that then the grocery store is down the road. You can get an artificially-flavored, food dyed jello cake with no butter in it there if that's what you prefer.

But I guarantee that the lemon buttercream would have made you cry for more, even if it wasn't lemon yellow.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA


Grace Cake Arts & Crafts said...

When I made a shower cake recently, I used natural colorings to tint the icing. After the colors set a while the deepen or may fade some but I like using soft colors without chemicals. makes vegetable based colors and naturally colored modeling chocolate.

Kara Buntin said...

Thanks for that link...that site looks like a good source for natural food colors. I book marked it!

ChatterBlossom said...

I agree! I don't need neon colors to enjoy a delicious cake!

AmysCakes said...

Its funny how people percieve flavor with thier eyes. I had (past tense unfortunately) a fairly regular custome who always ordered my pink lemonade cake. The recipe I used adds red food coloring to create a pink batter. Well I decided to start leaving out the food color because it really was unnecesary. Well she became irate when she got her last order. Called me mad that I gave her the wrong flavor cake. When I told her that there was no longer red food coloring but everything else in the recipe remained the same she got mad at me calling me a liar and that i should just fess up to the fact that I messed her order up and give her money back. Some people just expect a ceratain color for things and if its not that color it "tastes" wrong to them. Crazy

Jamie said...

Oh so right you are! I keep my recipes simple, but use good ingredients. None of this tutti frutti cotton candy nonsense!

Amanda said...

I can attest that your Lime cake is DELICIOUS even if it isn't green. :)