Cake decorators rely on a variety of ingredients and tools to create works of edible art. From flowers and fruits to marshmallows and frosting, the options are limitless.
These toppers add a little flavor and a massive visual impact.
Yet, one of the most popular options for cake decorating is fondant. Chefs from all over the globe rely on this icing to beautify their cakes and pastries.
That’s because the topper is incredibly easy to use. Plus, it comes in a wide range of colors, from subtle hues to bright, bold shades.
So, at this point, you may wonder, how do you paint, dye, or color fondant? If that’s the case, I’ve got an answer for you.
In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about coloring fondant. I’ll also cover a few painting techniques you can use.
Yes, simply put, with the right ingredients and tools, you should be able to change the color of fondant.
In fact, there are several ways you can go about dyeing the icing. These methods include painting, dry brushing, kneading, dipping, and airbrushing.
Each one of these requires a unique set of tools and special skills. Although, it won’t take much to learn any of the methods.
That means whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced baker, you shouldn’t face many issues.
Food coloring is one of the most popular options for dyeing fondant. Although, you should use a specific type.
Fondant is incredibly sensitive to moisture. Because of that, you have to stay away from any ingredients or additives that contain a lot of water.
That means traditional liquid food coloring and natural dyes are out of the question. Instead, you’ll need to use gel dyes.
These are vibrant enough to change the color, but they won’t affect the consistency of the fondant.
Besides that, you may use powdered food coloring. Yet, depending on how much you add, this can dry out your icing.
Now that you know you can change the color of fondant, I’ll move on to the how. In this section, I’ll talk about all the different ways you can color fondant.
Plus, I’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
No matter which technique you use, there are a few steps you need to take first. These will ensure that you don’t make a mess or stain your countertop.
First up, it’s always a good idea to wear protective gloves. These will stop the dyes from changing the color of your hands.
You don’t need anything fancy. Simple latex gloves will do the trick.
Besides that, you want to work with room-temperature fondant. This will ensure that the icing is soft and malleable enough to make your life easier later on.
So, if you live in a particularly cold area, you have to knead the fondant for a few minutes before you start coloring.
After that’s done, you’re ready to start playing with shades.
Finally, it’s a good idea to color all of your fondant at once. That way, you won’t have to worry about shade matching.
One of the most common methods used to dye fondant is kneading. That’s because it doesn’t require any advanced skills.
To start off the process, cover your counter with icing sugar. Then, roll your fondant into a ball. After that, grab your favorite shade of gel coloring.
Next, add a few drops of the dye to your icing. Be sure to spread out the drops as much as possible.
If your gel coloring is on the runny side, then you may want to use a toothpick to distribute the shade. This will give you much more control over how many drops you use.
Once that’s done, it’s time for kneading. Based on your upper body strength, this part of the process can take a few minutes.
So, take your time and keep kneading until the fondant is one homogenous color.
Besides being time-consuming, this method also requires a lot of elbow grease. Because of that, if you’re dyeing large quantities of fondant, this may not be the best way.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of dyeing all your fondant, you can paint it instead. With this method, you’ll only need to cover the outer layer of the icing in color.
Not only will this save time, but it’ll also help you use less gel coloring.
All you’ll need for this method is a rolling pin, paintbrush, and a little food-grade alcohol.
Begin by lightly dusting your counter with icing sugar and rolling out your fondant. Next, place a few drops of the gel dye into a small cup or container.
After that, add a little alcohol to thin down the paint. For this step, you can use vodka, gin, or any other clear liquor that you have in your cabinet.
With that out of the way, you can start painting. Although, it may be best to test out your shade before you start coloring.
Remember, the alcohol will dilute the dye a bit. So, the color you see in the container isn’t necessarily the shade that’ll show up on the icing.
For that reason, it’s good practice to test the dye out on a piece of scrap fondant. Then, spend a little time finding the perfect hue.
Once that’s done, grab a paintbrush and unleash your creativity on the icing.
While this method seems easy, it requires quite a bit of skill. It’ll take a minute for you to master how to use the liquid paint without making mistakes.
Even though the previous methods are effective, achieving vibrant shades may take effort. For that reason, if you’re after a bright pop of color, you may need to use dipping.
This combines both the previous methods into one.
Start off by creating a paint solution using vodka and gel dyes. You’re going to need quite a bit of this liquid, so don’t be shy with the food coloring.
After that, gently place your ball of fondant in the paint and roll it around. As soon as that’s done, it’s time for a workout.
Transfer your icing to your countertop and begin kneading. The final result will be vibrantly colored fondant.
Yet, this method can be exceptionally messy. Because of that, it’s a good idea to cover your countertop in plastic wrap before you start.
To paint fondant, you typically need to dilute gel dyes. This will thin down the coloring and make it easier to work with.
Most people will use alcohol as a diluting agent. That’s because it doesn’t affect the shade of their dye.
Although, there are a couple of issues with using spirits. For starters, they’re incredibly fast-drying.
As soon as you pour out the alcohol, it’ll begin evaporating. That means you won’t have much working time with the paint.
So, beginner decorators may find it difficult to use the solution. Besides that, alcohol will leave a shiny film on your fondant.
Sadly, this isn’t appropriate for all applications. For these reasons, bakers are always on the lookout for alternatives to alcohol.
Luckily, there are quite a few options.
One of the most popular substitutes for alcohol is lemon juice. That’s because it’s readily available and evaporates much slower than spirits.
Aside from that, lemon juice doesn’t give your fondant a shiny finish.
Yet, there are several problems with this solution. First up, lemon juice has a pale yellow tint.
So, you’re going to have to use more gel food coloring. Plus, after you apply the paint to the fondant, the color will slightly fade.
For that reason, you’ll need to apply a few coats of the paint to get the shade you’re looking for.
Lastly, lemon juice will add a subtle citrusy aftertaste to the fondant.
Instead of alcohol, you can also use cocoa butter and shortening. Place the ingredients in the microwave for a few seconds until they melt.
After that, add a couple of drops of gel dye and mix thoroughly.
This will create a paint that’s slightly thicker than the alcohol version. So, learning how to use it may take a lot of practice.
Besides that, cocoa butter and shortening take much longer to dry. That means it’ll be more challenging to ensure you don’t smear the paint.
Finally, since the ingredients are oily, they’ll leave a blinding sheen behind on the fondant.
If you don’t have any of the ingredients on this list, then you can use water in a pinch. Although, this should only be a last resort.
That’s because the liquid can distort the shape of your fondant. Plus, in severe cases, the icing may completely melt off your cake.
So, when you have to use water, make sure you use it sparingly and paint in thin coats.
If you’re skilled with an airbrush, then you can use the tool to paint fondant. It’ll help you achieve gradients and other cool designs.
On top of that, with an airbrush, you can cover large sections of the icing in a few seconds.
If you’re wondering how to paint, dye, or color fondant, there are a few methods you can try out. These include kneading, painting, and dipping.
All you need is the right type of dye to make any of these methods work. Ideally, with fondant, it’s best to use gel food coloring.
This will ensure your icing doesn’t warp out of shape. Plus, you can dilute the dye with alcohols like vodka to make it easier to work with.
If you prefer to keep alcohol away from your fondant, there are several alternatives. Some of the most popular examples are lemon juice and cocoa butter and shortening.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.