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Oct 12, 2007 07:57 AM

need suggestions for coloring pastry dough

I am having a dinner party and making a trio of apple desserts, in honor of autumn. I am making a play on a candy apple with a three layered tower of apple gelee, caramel gelee and sugared almond gelee. Then, apple cider doughnuts with a brandy creme anglaise. Lastly, I wanted to do a play on a traditional double crust apple pie by doing a poached cinnamon apple filling and shaping pastry dough in the form of an apple, but I am having trouble thinking of natural ways to color the pie dough either red or green. I want it to actually look like an apple. Does anyone have any suggestions? I don't like using food coloring.


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  1. I don't know if this is possible or not, but maybe you could puree some bing cherries, or canned ones, and then drain the juice and mix that in the pastry dough. Or brush it on?

    1. The problem with natural colour additives is that they tend to add extra flavours. For example, pandan extract was the first thing I thought of when I saw green, but the pandan flavour is so distinct. The cherries, as mentioned above, have the same problem.

      Is there a reason that you're against just using regular food dye (allergy to red no. 40 or whatnot)? You wouldn't need more than a touch or two of the stuff, and it won't change the taste of your dough.

      1. Thanks. I actually ended up deciding to make mini traditional apple pie crusts, but, for the filling, I am making cinnamon apple caviar and hot vanilla ice cream using molecular gastronomy. A modern pie a la mode. Now, I just need to find a place in the city to get sodium alginate as I seemed to have missplaced it in my move.

        2 Replies
        1. re: offthebeatenpath1

          Where'd you get your recipe for apple cider donuts? I LOVE those.

          1. re: linz

            I actually just made regular jelly doughnuts with just a touch of spiced apple cider in the dough. Then, instead of filling them with jelly, I made a apple cider air using a really good store bought (can't make everything fresh) apple cider and lecitchin and filled the doughnuts. Then, I covered with an apple cider glaze and make a brandy cream anglaise (for those who prefer hard apple cider). I made them once before and it worked out well, and I have also made them filled with apple cider gelee rather than air, but I think the air is more refreshing and less overwhelming.

        2. I realize that you chose another direction to go with the pastry. I just wanted to remark on colouring pastry. Remember that pastry is basically pockets of fat in a paste of flour and water, and whatever other ingredients. That fat is what makes a pastry flaky. You can find oil based colourings, I believe that Wilton's would carry them. (I prefer to use these colourings for any decorating I do, of cookies or frostings, as the range of colour pastes available is far superior to the usual vegetable colours from the grocery store) Any shop that carries candy making supplies should have these colourings. However, in a flaky pastry, the colours would be inconsistent, and streaky. In a pastry that's more like a cookie dough, such as a shortbread type, the pastes could be used, as the fats would be completely incorporated, and you'd find a more even colour.


          1. For future reference, I think organic Beetroot Powder from Le Sanctuaire at 315 Sutter, Suite #5 would work well. I just bought some but haven't used it yet. It's a very vivid bright pink color and the label says: "Used as a natural substitute for artificial red coloring. The taste is slightly sweet and does not clash with other foods." I'm sure they would carry your sodium alginate too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Debra Stuart

              That's a good suggestion. I was actually on Le Sacntuaire's website yesterday looking for some ideas, but the catalog feature wasn't working. It would be nice if they opened a store in ny.