In the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) paper titled Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives & Colors, the reasons for adding colour additives include: offset colour loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in colour; enhance colours that occur naturally; provide colour to colourless and “fun” foods.

Natural colours are provided by spices, insects (carmine – deep red), plants (anthocyanin – red, purple, or blue depending on the pH), chlorophyll – the green pigment found in leaves, vegetables and grasses, and tree seeds (annatto – bright yellow to deep orange). In synthetic form, colours are available as dyes.

For confectionary, within the natural colour spectrum, the popular shades of yellow, red, green and violet come as caramel, turmeric, natural carotene, carmine, chlorophyll, anthocyanin and, in countries where its use is allowed, annatto – a good orange-yellow colour solution.

The main colour shades used in fruit applications are red and yellow-orange, which can be achieved with turmeric, paprika, anthocyanin, carmine and annatto.

Yellow fats come in the yellow and orange shades, which can be obtained from beta-carotene, natural carotene, annatto and turmeric, and blends of these.

According to natural colour and flavour producer Kalsec, when colouring baked goods, cereals and snacks, often a yellow, orange, or red-orange hue is desired. Annatto, turmeric, paprika and carrot, and blends of these pigments, provide a wide range of yellow to orange shades. Orkila is the exclusive distributor for Kalsec’s line of natural ingredients in South Africa.

Dyes are the synthetic form of food colouring and are available as:

• Liquid dye – popular for tinting icings, batters and dough.
• Liquid gel dye – used for cakes and icings that require substantial amounts of colouring and minimal liquid.
• Gel paste dye – basically the same as liquid gel dye, but often preferred when a more robust colour is required for baked goods and confectionery.
• Powdered dye – utilised in tinting crystal sugar, colouring chocolate and preparing dry mixes. It is excellent for tinting macaroons and meringues since these delicate goods will be ruined by added liquid.
Flavours add a specific aroma to food, while flavour enhancers heighten aromas already present in foods. Using a flavour extract or flavour concentrate is often easier and yields a tastier result than adding the actual ingredient itself in a recipe. For example, blueberry flavour can be achieved without the need for obtaining and chopping blueberries and, as a bonus, the extract or concentrate better distributes the flavour than the actual fruit.

Gum acacia-based flavour concentrates usually have stronger aromas than alcohol-based extracts. Because of their gum base, concentrates can have a cloudier, more opaque appearance and hence extracts are best used when product clarity is important.

Since extracts are set in an alcohol base, they evaporate easily and are less heat stable than concentrates when exposed to high heat or prolonged cooking. Extracts are at their most potent when they are used with a high alkaline ingredient like salt.

The latest trends

BBC Great British Bake Off 2013 winner Frances Quinn predicts that this year will see the shunning of synthetic fondant icing and unnatural colourings in favour of rustic, au natural ingredients. RHe commented: “For instance, instead of using fondant icing I use traditional ganache, and also make my own marzipan using pistachios or orange blossom.”

Edd Kimber, the first ever winner of Great British Bake Off, predicts that one recipe that will hit the headlines is the choux pastry. “Parisian pastry chefs have been showing us that there is so much you can do with choux,” he said.

Hardwick demonstrates with a choux bun recipe filled with popcorn-flavoured cream and “the sauce that refuses to slow in popularity”: salted caramel.

BBC Good Food assistant food editor and resident baking expert Cassie Best sees South America as a big influence this year. She commented:“With the World Cup knocking on our doors I can see lots of Brazilian and (other) South American bakes being popular.”

She recommends trying bakes like alfajores, a South American biscuit sandwich with dulce de leche caramel. Another suggestion is pão de queijo – small Brazilian cheese-flavoured rolls.

For Creative Flavors International in South Africa, flavouring trends in the bakery industry will be sweet-spicy combinations such as cocoa-chilli, sweet basil and chilli-tomato, and sweet-chilli and cheese. – Source: “Rising cake stars: The top baking trends of 2014”, by Natalie Hardwick,
Going the natural route

A global shift towards healthier eating has increased the demand for natural food ingredients. In response to this, Sensient Colors introduced DustPro NXTTM natural colour powders, an “innovative product line that reduces dust levels while improving colour solubility, compared with traditional natural colour powders”.

Chr. Hansen supplies natural colors to the beverage, confectionery, ice cream and prepared food industries.

In addition to Roha’s flagship synthetic brand “Idacol”, the company markets natural colouring offerings under the “Natracol” and “Futurals” ranges, which are described as “brilliant and stable shades extracted from vegetables, fruits, edible flowers, herbs, spices and algae”.

Some common flavours, extracts and their uses

* Vanilla extract – from vanilla beans that have been steeped in alcohol – is widely used to flavour especially baked goods and ice cream. Concentrated vanilla flavour is extra rich and creamy, which is particularly useful for baking.

* Anise flavour gives a liquorice aroma to candy, but can also be used in cookies and cakes.

* Butter flavour can be added to many baking recipes to boost the butter flavour.

* Butterscotch – the result of a blend of butter and brown sugar – is well loved in not only candy, but also in pudding and cookie recipes and icings.

* Cinnamon flavour is used when the powder would interfere with the moisture or clarity in recipes.

* Coffee flavour is the choice ingredient in tiramisu, brownies and hot fudge. Using coffee flavour concentrate allows a strong coffee aroma without adding large amounts of brewed coffee to a recipe.

* Maple flavour gives aroma to fudge, toffees, brownies and frostings.

* Mint and peppermint with chocolate or ice cream are matches made in heaven, but mint flavour is also great in icings, cakes, puddings and biscuits. Peppermint flavour can be used to liven up cupcakes, scones, brownies and frosting.

* Popular nut flavours and extracts include almond (in pastries like croissants and cookies) and walnut (in pancake and waffle batters, or sweet roll, brown bread or cookie recipes).

* Prevalent fruit flavours are banana (in chocolate sauces, fruit smoothies and milkshakes, waffles, pancakes and French toast batter); lemon (in cakes, cookies, muffins, icings and frostings, puddings, sauces, ice creams and sorbets, candy), orange (in cookies, muffins, breads, puddings, icings and ice cream) and coconut, which adds a tropical twist to frostings, pancake batter, syrups, cookies and candy.

• Colouring: natural derivatives, confectionary, fruit applications and yellow fats – Lake Foods, a division of Lake International
• Dyes: – “Dye Another Day: Types of Food Coloring”
• Flavour extract / concentrate: Frontier Natural Products Co-op – “Baking Flavors and Extracts 101”


Suppliers of flavourings and colourings

Bakery Network Services, Cape Food Ingredients, Carst & Walker, Cell-Chem, The Lemon Company, Danlink Ingredients and Sensient

Suppliers of flavourings

Creative Flavors, Chempure, Janndoree, McCormick, Nichola J Flavours and Unique Flavors & Fragrances

Suppliers of colourings

IMCD, Lake International, South Bakels, Entreshar Enterprises and Savannah