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If you remember learning about colors in primary school, you learned that the primary colors can be mixed together to make other colors. Yellow and red make orange, while blue and yellow make green. What colors make silver? Silver is all around us – there's silver paint on cars, silver-colored wrapping paper and silver icing on wedding cakes – so it must be possible to combine colors to make the color silver.

Making Icing the Color Silver

What's a 25th wedding anniversary cake without the color silver? It's some other year, no doubt. As it turns out, color charts for icing say to combine one drop of blue and one drop of black to make the color silver. Simple, right?

Not so fast. Depending on what type of icing you're using, it may or may not turn out to be the color you want. However, it's a very good place to start.

If you use liquid food coloring, you can add one drop of each color. If you're using gel or paste food coloring, which doesn't come out in drops, the secret is to make sure you're using equal parts of each color. So, whether you use a dab or a smidge on your toothpick, make sure each is the same size.

Refining Your Color

After adding one dab or drop of black and one dab or drop of blue and mixing very well until your icing is all one color with no streaks or off-colored patches, you may decide it looks too blue or too dark. Simply add a smidge or drop of the color it seems to be lacking.

It's best to experiment with a small amount of icing until you get the color you want. That way, you haven't used all the icing, ended up with the wrong color and have to try to fix the whole batch. Speaking of batches, once you have the shade of silver you want, be sure to mix up all the icing you will need for your decorating in one large batch. If you have to mix up a second batch, it's very difficult to get the exact same color the second time.

Making Your Icing Sparkle

Silver is basically gray, which can look flat. If you want your decorating to shimmer like silver, especially when you're celebrating a momentous occasion, try adding edible sugar or edible glitter to the icing after you color it to your liking. As your cake sits on display, it will sparkle when people walk by from a certain angle and will pick up the light in photos.

You probably don't want to ice your entire cake in silver. It might be best when used as a highlight color, such as on a border or ribbons or bells. Use a white or cream icing as the base color for the cake and add a complementary color such as pale pink for some of the ribbons or flowers.

Follow Expert Tips on Icing

Pastry chefs and food-color experts know lots of do's and don'ts when coloring icing, such as:

  • Color icing one to two hours before decorating with it because the color may change. Colors deepen in buttercream icing and fade in royal and other icings.

  • Lemon juice and cream of tartar cause colors to change. If your icing has either of these ingredients, omit it.

  • Water in some geographical areas will change the color of icing. If possible, use milk instead of water in your icing.

About the Author

Barbara Bean-Mellinger

Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area and writes about food for eHow.com and leaf.tv. She started baking on her own at age nine, creating appetizers at 10, and making family meals by 14. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she often cooked elaborate meals and desserts for friends.