Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

asked October 23rd 2018

adding colour to sugar paste

Hi... To colour my sugar paste I use the Sugar flair range of dyes, I use this on basic supermarket sugar paste. However, I notice that I can never achieve a clean smooth finish on the cakes and elephant skin is a familiar occurrence on the cakes. So I worked out that the dyes I use tend to absorb moisture hence the elephant skin and other problems rolling out the paste.
I have now ordered some premium sugar paste online but can I ask you of any recommendations on colouring my paste so it wont damage the paste.


Hi Rob

It's very difficult colouring white sugarpaste to obtain depth of colour without altering it's constistency. There are various ingredients in the dyes which will break down texture and taste when used in large quantites. Worst colours are the darker ones, especially red and black. The elephant skin is probably due to excessive use of icing sugar when rolling out and also the water content in the actual dye. A better grade of paste will certainly help as basic brands don't contain as many of the ingredients which help with elasticity.

Perhaps also try and experiment with more concentrated colour brands. An exellent professional food colouring is Rainbow Dust Progel. It's highly concentrated so use with care. Don't forget that colour develops, add a small amount to begin with. Let coloured paste sit overnight or for a few hours first. A little more can always be added if not sufficient but can't be taken away once it's done.

Avoid excessive use of icing sugar or corn flour when rolling out. Both will change the colour and consistency of paste. Corn flour in particular will dry paste out. Since it can not be absorbed into the sugar, the paste will dry out, crack, elephant skin and streak. Icing sugar will absorb back into the paste but it will still change it's consistency. It will dry out, loose elasticity, show crack and elephant skin.

I'm sure you already have a non stick roll out board and acyrilic rolling pin. If by chance you don't, they are both a great investment and do help reduce sticking when rolling out.

Finally, I would really recommend buying in ready dyed darker colours to save the hassle of colouring them without incident. Hope some of the suggestions help. 🙂