Train Cake: Using Natural Food Dye

By : | 5 Comments | On : July 2, 2013 | Category : Fussy Eaters, Kids Cooking

I was flicking through the Woman’s Weekly Cookbook, the old school cake book, thinking about what cake to make for Harry’s 2nd Birthday Party – sorry, thinking about what cake I was going to ask Sarah to make, for Harry’s birthday party. We got to the “choo-choo-train” cake and Harry very nearly dropped a number three.

So that was it, the train cake it was.

Me: “Sarah, I think Harry would like the train cake.”

Julia (vegan sister): “*Snort*. Good luck, I’ve made that before.”

Sarah (baking sister): “The one with the carriage?”

Me: “Yes. Three carriages. Actually.”

But there was one other thing. Cakes that look neon, loaded with synthetic food dye, do scare me a bit.

Me: “Oh, and I think we should try with natural food dye.”

Sarah: “….”

Me: “I’ll make the dye.”

A bit of food colouring every-now-and-then is OK. But it’s not necessarily good for anyone (some would even say it’s very bad) and many parents have noted behaviour changes in their kids who consumed certain colours. To purchace natural food dye can be expensive when you only need a drop. And, making your own is genuinely easy, and fun, so why not?

Check out our full post on making natural food dye.

Train Cake:

  • Create the cake using the Woman’s Weekly “Choo, Choo, Train Cake” recipe.
  • Pink/red – Beetroot: Juice or puree the cooked beetroot and push through a sieve or use the juice from quality canned beetroots.
  • Purple – Blackberries/Blueberries: Microwave berries until the skin bursts, then pour the juice through a sieve.
  • Orange – Carrots: Juice raw carrots in a juicer, or puree, and push pulp through a sieve to extract juice.
  • Yellow – Orange: Juice orange using a juicer. Or push pulp through a sieve to extract juice. Add a pinch of dried saffron.
  • Green – Spinach: Juice spinach leaves in a juicer, or puree adding 1 tsp water, and push pulp through a sieve to extract juice.

Other Tips:

  • When making your own food dye you may need to use more dye than the recipe requires (usually double).
  • You may need to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe to compensate or add a little more dry ingredients.
  • Remember a white base is always best, if you are making icing for example opt for a white based recipe rather than a yellow buttery one.
  • Natural food dye has a paler colour than synthetic dye.
  • You can use natural food dye to replace synthetic in baking too, we’ve seen some great all-natural rainbow cakes!

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Nutrition Note: Our natural food dyes are 100% natural. You can feel good knowing there are no artificial flavours, no artificial colours, no preservatives and no additives and you can feel even better knowing you are adding in some wonderfully healthy vitamins and minerals from the fruit and vegetable juices. How good is that.

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  1. posted by Leanne on July 2, 2013

    Allie/Sarah, that cake is phenomenal! Looks (and I’m sure tasted) incredible. Happy 2nd birthday Harry x

    • posted by Allie on July 2, 2013

      Thanks Leanne 🙂 Ax

  2. posted by Tara on November 4, 2014

    Do the flavours of the dyes go into your icing? Berry and orange are not so bad, but spinach icing?

    • posted by Allie on November 10, 2014

      Hi Tara, I have found that with the pure vanilla any flavour is masked. Ax

  3. posted by Meg on October 17, 2022

    Hi Allie! Did Julia make her train cake vegan as well? Any tips if so?


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