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I'm wanting to make a layer cake for a birthday WITHOUT food coloring. Specifically, I'm wanting to make red and blue. Could I add raspberry juice or puree to a basic white cake recipe or would that turn out pink? For the blue, would blueberry work? How would the recipe need to be adjusted to accommodate the extra liquid?

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  • i realize you asked for solutions without food coloring, but you did not mention the nature of your objection. See this question for some alternatives: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/30104/…
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 23:23
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    I would consider any edible thing that colors food, food coloring - including raspberries and blueberries.
    – Erik P.
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 1:05

5 Answers 5

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As a note I'm answering this question based on avoiding artificial food dyes (Red #40, Yellow #5, etc) rather than all food coloring.

Raspberry puree will produce a pink result, and I have sucessfully done a very dark pink with ground freeze dried raspberries. Achieving the depth of color needed to provide a true red or blue would require not only several food sources to blend the color correctly but a large quantity of, for example reducing juice to make it more concentrated since what you are going for is a color concentrate.

Another option is to let someone else do the blending and extracting for you. Chocolate Craft Colors and a few other companies make plant derived food colorings, and I like the chocolate craft ones since they disclose all of the plant sources (cabbage in the blue, and beets with carrots for the red) and they sell liquid, paste, and powder so you can achieve the color you want without throwing off the balance of the recipe.

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  • Chefmaster (a major manufacturer of food coloring) also has a line of natural colors now that are almost as good as their regular colors.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 20:28
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It will be very difficult to match the range of intense colors that food coloring can provide with only fruits and vegetables as coloring sources. Blue will probably be impossible. Pink to reddish-purple may be achievable.

Beet juice would be red-to-purple, and probably intense enough to color moderately without adding too strong a flavor. For a more pure reddish hue, I would suggest making a raspberry cake, but that would tend to be more pinkish than red--getting intense color is difficult.

If you do choose to make a raspberry colored cake, I would recommend getting a recipe that is raspberry all the way, instead of substituting. For beet juice, I would replace some of the water or milk with beet juice, up to about half of its volume, although if you are replacing milk you may loose some tenderness.

There is no natural food in existance to the best of my knowledge—with the possible exception of blue corn—that is blue.

Blueberries are actually a deep purple inside; it is an irridescent effect on the surface that makes them appear blue. Trying to color a cake with them will give you purple. Think of the color of the stains inside a blueberry muffin...

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  • Red/Purple cabbage goes blue in an alkaline solution. Must taste disgusting though?
    – TFD
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 1:07
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    Butterfly pea leaf powder gives a very satisfying blue color that is used to produce vibrant blues in baked goods and cocktails. In acid pH the color goes to purple. Bartenders exploit this property to great effect in high end cocktails.
    – scottb
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 0:04
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I did SEVEN different experiments to create a pink cake for my daughter. Beet juice will lose it's color when baked. Fruit purees will keep their color, but they aren't great for the texture of the cake. Freeze dried fruits, ground in to a powder, will color the cake, but it will be faint. Hopefully this will save anyone who reads this a few wasted ingredients. If you want to see pictures of my mad experiments... http://www.luckynumber3.com/2016/02/pink-cakesixth-seventh-attempts.html.

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Butterfly pea powder makes a great blue. Blue Spirulina does too but does not stand up to heat. You can also boil red cabbage and add baking soda for blue.

For red you can use red beet powder. There are different shades available. You can also mix some beet powder with cherry and raspberry to cut back on the earthy flavor

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Caramelize the sugar. It will give you a reddish brown natural color.

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    I can see this being golden, or even a pale brown, but... I don't think it's going to actually be red.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 16:44

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