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As you may be aware from some of my other reviews I have recently started a cake decorating class and am enjoying learning about all things cake. This has led to a range of purchases and each week I discover just one more thing that I am quite sure that I NEED... However one thing all cake decorators definitely do need is a good selection of quality colours for colouring sugarpaste, florist paste, marzipan and the like (you can even colour some modelling chocolate mediums). On one of my first shopping trips I purchased a few Squires Kitchen colours, simply because I needed some colours and that was the brand available in that particular shop, I have since discovered that they are a well known brand within the cake decorating world and produce a range of 30 colours. Each sold in 20g pots. To use you simply open the lid and remove the required amount- I use a cocktail stick. You then work the colour into your sugarpaste until the desired colours is achieved and is even throughout. I find that a pot lasts well, but I do find it a struggle to get the colour out as a pot starts to empty. The colour itself is a gel like paste and only a small amount is required. It has no smell and is simply a concentrated version of the shade you can achieve. It is difficult to determine how much colour to how much sugarpaste however- and I find it trial and error. Which can be frustrating as you may fully work it in and decide more colour is required especially when aiming for deep rather than pale shades however this is likely to be the case whenever colouring icing regardless of brand. ~Disadvantages~ Despite claims to the contrary I do find sometimes when trying to achieve deeper shades that the sugarpaste can become slightly wet and sticky. I find using a small amount of icing sugar at the same helps to counter act this. I also find that due to the narrow pot opening it can be fiddly getting the colour out especially as you get nearer the bottom. ~Price & Availability~ Squires Kitchen Colours are widely available from shops and online and cost around £3 for a 20g pot. ~Recommend~ These really do last a long time and there is a lovely range of colours. However I do find it a bit of a pain to get out of the pot, especially when you have been using it for a while and for this reason I think I will try the new Rainbow Dust Progel colours which come in a tube as I think this would be easier to dispense and reduce wastage. The Rainbow Dust Progel Colours come in bright vibrant shades and I would be interested to see if these in anyway make the sugarpaste sticky or tacky as I have found can be the case with the Squires Kitchen colours. This review also appears on CIAO under the same username.
I use these paste food colours for cake decorating purposes, as they are easier to work with than liquid colours. Colours which come in the form of paste are more concentrated, meaning that you only need to add a tiny bit to inject a good amount of colour. This means you don't run the risk of altering the consistency of the food you are working with, by adding too much liquid. The Squires Kitchen paste colours are the most well known in the world of cake decorating, and they have an excellent range of colours which are all quite specific. So, whereas you could go to the supermarket and find a basic range of colours such as red, blue and yellow, if you're looking for a more specific colour, you'll have a wider range to choose from in the Squires Kitchen range. For example, there is no yellow colour, but instead you have a choice of sunflower, marigold or daffodil. The pastes are packaged in a little pot with a very stiff flip top lid. The reason for the stiffness of the lid is obviously to contain the product and not allow it to leak or spill anywhere. When I first started cake decorating about four years ago, I used to be nervous about carrying these to college, but in actual fact they are very hard wearing, and I've never had any incidents involving leaks in my bag. You just have to make sure the lid is fully "snapped" onto the pot. The paste itself is thicker than food colour, and the consistency is a little like a watered down body butter. This means you won't be able to pour it, but instead it can be applied by using a wooden cocktail stick. The key to this is to remember that less is more when it comes to paste colours. You're best starting off with a tiny bit, and then increasing it if you need to, because the colours are very intense so the likelihood is that you'll need less than you think. I'm always very careful when using these pastes to try to avoid it coming into contact with my skin or work surfaces. This is because they are very concentrated, and take forever to remove. When I first started cake decorating there were a couple of occasions I had to go into work the morning after college with green fingers, after spending ages scrubbing trying to get the colour off my hands! Sometimes it can't be avoided, for example if you're kneading it into fondant, in which case it's advisable to wear gloves. The pastes themselves are very effective, and they do last a while due to only needing to use a little each time. You can build up darker colours by using more paste, or alternatively you can mix and match the colours to create your own colour. They create long lasting colours in fondant or buttercream, and are much easier to work with than liquid colours. Currently available for around £2.10 per pot, from the Squires Kitchen website (www.squires-shop.com), Hobbycraft, or cake decorating shops. Highly recommended. (Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)