Once upon a time there was a crazy home baker who liked to experiment with breads. And then, while out on a walk with friends discussing potluck dishes, the idea struck to try to make rainbow bread using vegetables as the food dyes. And since this crazy baker is unable to let a crazy idea like that sit and fester, she decided to make some rainbow bread. As soon as she got home. On a very hot day (90 degrees) in a house with no AC. With the oven on at 500 degrees for several hours. Like I said, CrAzY! Thankfully, this crazy baker had a friend who wanted to participate in the craziness, and who even had a spare KitchenAid to help speed up the process. After a full day of mixing, shaping, laughing, and baking, and giggling some more, four GINORMOUS free-form loaves of craziness emerged, just as marvelous and crazy as the crazy baker had imagined!
Vegetables and spices make some wonderful all-natural food dyes! And, if you use the right ones, not only will the colors be vibrant, but the flavors will meld together in an amazing cacophony of flavors. The flavors in this bread were very mild. While you could taste each “color” the flavor wasn’t overwhelming or intense. Just a mild hint.
Here are some ideas of what you can use to color food naturally:
Pink/Reds – Beets
Greens – Spinach
Orange – Carrots
Deeper Orange – Tomato Paste
Yellow – Saffron or Turmeric (or Curry powder)
Purple – Boiled Purple Cabbage (using the water)
Blue – Boiled Purple Cabbage Water with a little baking soda added at the last minute
I didn’t have the purple cabbage available, but the other items were on hand!
Rainbow Bread (makes a very large batch- 8 to 10 standard loaves)
Base Bread Recipe
- 3/4 c warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp (one envelope) yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 T EVOO
- 4 - 5 cups bread flour, or more as needed (use a mix of whole wheat and bread flour as desired. I used 1 cup whole wheat flour with this recipe)
For the colors, to be added to each base recipe
- For Pink: 1 1/2 c Beet puree (1 large beet purees with about 3 T water)
- For Light Orange: 1 1/2 c Carrot Puree (this was about a pint of canned carrots, with about 3 T water)
- For Darker Orange: 1 small can of tomato paste thinned out with water to equate 1 1/2 cups liquid
- For Green: 1 bunch of Spinach, cooked in 1/4 c water, pureed. Add water to equate 1 1/2 cups liquid
- For Yellow: 1/2 tsp Paprika, 1/2 tsp Cumin, dash Cayenne, 1/2 heaping tsp Turmeric, 1/4 tsp Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp Ginger, or instead of all of those, 1 tablespoon Curry Powder
You will need to use one base recipe for each color
- In your mixer bowl, add the warm water, the salt, yeast, oil, and the puree.
- Add 4 cups of flour.
- On low, using a dough hook, mix the ingredients until well blended. Add more flour or water as needed to make a smooth, elastic dough.
- Knead until the dough passes the window pane test, which demonstrates the gluten in the dough has been sufficiently developed. This should take 8-10 minutes.
- Shape dough into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, spray the top with some cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let it raise until doubled (60-90 minutes), punching down as needed until all of the different colors have been made.
Once all of the colors have been made and raised:
- Preheat the oven between 450-500 degrees (if you have a stone, heat that as well)
- Separate each color into the desired number of loaves (4-10 loaves, depending on how large you want them.)
- Shape each color into a rope, then braid, or roll out to swirl, or twist and shape as desired. For some ideas, you can braid the bread, roll the bread, twist the bread by placing all the strands together and twisting like a rope.
- Place each finished loaf onto a cornmeal-dusted sheet of parchment paper if free-form, or into a greased breadpan for normal loaves.
- Spray each loaf with some cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, between 60-90 minutes.
- Before baking, spritz each loaf with water (optional)
- Slide the free form loaves with their parchment paper either onto a cookie sheet, or onto the stone and place in the oven. Or, put your bread pans into the oven.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the loafs are a nice golden brown, sounds hollow when tapped, and the internal temperature is between 190-200 degrees.
- Let cool for at least an hour.
- Enjoy the Rainbow, and eat!
It is much quicker to make this bread if there are at least two mixers available (and a friend) and you can make at least two different colors of dough at once!
Copyright 2007 - 2020 Tanya Jolly & Sally Stevens
I think what
I the crazy person loved the most about making this bread was that not only were all of these food colors natural, BUT also that my her kids were getting vegetable IN their bread. The fun colors WERE the veggies! Not just the juice, but the whole vegetable.
Who can complain about that?