I've always made the kids' birthday cakes. We don't do big birthday parties or buy elaborate gifts, so this is the little "thing" I do to make each child's birthday special. I used to use the Wilton food colors, which include artificial dyes. Last week we had the first birthday celebration since our food conversion and I was able to make birthday cakes for the first time using decorating colors made from vegetable colorants.
I purchased India Tree Natural Decorating Colors online. It included three small bottles of color: red, yellow, and blue. The back of the package gave hints on how to combine the colors to achieve other colors.
I think that if I had never used Wilton colors, I would have been extremely pleased with the natural colors. However, since I already had previous experience with the rich, vibrant Wilton colors, the softer, more pastel colors from the natural dye were less exciting.
This was Sarah's cake. She specifically asked for a butterfly cake, which worked out nicely since my mother-in-law had already purchased a butterfly cake pan to be part of my Christmas gift! Fortunately, pastel colors work out great for a 3 year old girl's birthday cake.
For Andrew's cake, I went for the simple and easy to transport approach. We celebrated the birthdays at the same time, so I had to make and decorate two birthday cakes in one day. It was my first experience doing that, so this simple cake is what he ended up with. We also had the party at my parent's home instead of our home, so having cakes that could travel easily was important to me this time around.
That number one is supposed to be blue. I kept adding more and more and more of the natural blue food coloring, but this bluish-purple color is the best I could come up with. With the Wilton colors, I could've created 1,000 different shades of blue, but I guess there's got to be some trade-offs when you go from artificial to natural.
Anyhow, I guess the most important thing is that they did taste good and the kids seemed pleased with them.
Here's a picture of Sam's birthday cake that I made before we removed artificial dyes. See how much more bright and vivid the Wilton colors are?!?
When I start getting all nostalic about Wilton colors, I have to remind myself: The dyes cause your 4 year old to act autistic and your baby to scratch his neck until he bleeds. It's not worth it, it's not worth it, it's not worth it.