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Should You Use Organic Ingredients in your Cakes, Fillings and Icing?

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Should You Use Organic Ingredients in your Cakes, Fillings and Icing?
Used with permission from Michelle Anderson

There are many professional cake designers who are very visibly advertising organic ingredients on their websites as an advantage for their finished products. Home bakers might be wondering if it really makes a difference and what organic products should be included in their recipes. There is no question that the majority of our food ingredients have some type of genetic alteration and pesticide contamination. This is a fact we have to live with that might be disturbing because as of right now there is no definite information about what these alterations and additions might be doing to us long term. With this fact in mind and the goal of producing the best highest quality cakes, cookies and cupcakes it might be recommended to at least try to limit the exposure to certain additives or pesticides and buy organic. To be honest cakes made with organic sugar, dairy and flour are still not beacons for good health because cake is a luxury item and not really meant to be healthy. However, the choice to buy and use organic products is better for the planet and does produce a product less laden with additives.

Some of the food ingredients that should be purchased organic whenever possible from a reputable supplier can include:

  • Milk, Cream and Butter: Dairy products are one of the easier choices to go organic because the "healthier" version is readily available in most stores, although it is more expensive. Dairy is also one of the more contaminated produces due to the feed that is consumed by the cows in this product chain. Chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are commonly found in most commercially produced milk, cream and butter and we consume them in large quantities because many other food products also contain dairy.
  • Eggs: Eggs are crucial in many recipes for cakes, fillings and icing. This product is produced by chickens, obviously and those chickens can pass antibiotics and hormones into the eggs similar to cows producing milk with similar additives. Organic eggs do not have the same concentrations of additives and limit the exposure of harmful elements.
  • Sugar: Organic sugar can be slightly confusing because even sugar produced "naturally" often is treated with chemicals in the production process to remove impurities and improve quality. Sugar produced with beets can also come from beet seeds that have been genetically enhanced so it is important to find raw sugar from raw sugar cane.
  • Wheat: Flour is a critical component of cakes because this is a staple ingredient. Most cakes call for all purpose or cake flour which is treated and bleached to produce a fine product. Unfortunately most wheat products are sprayed quite heavily when stored because wheat is a very popular food source for pests and vermin. Organic flour can be tricky to bake with so try a trial run before making the final cake for presentation.
  • Strawberries: Strawberry flavoring and filling is one of the most popular components in cake design. Unfortunately, strawberries are a seriously compromised crop with serious exposure to pesticides, upwards of five hundred pounds sprayed per acre. Try to buy these berries in season and organic to protect the quality of your cakes.
  • Apples: Cakes with spicy apple filling or flavoring in the cake itself are very popular in the fall. This lovely homey fruit is also heavily contaminated with pesticide so it is advisable to buy organic. Organic apples are not as visually perfect as their sprayed counterparts but this is not an issue because you will be cutting them up or grating them anyway. If you cannot get organic apples take the skin off whenever possible because that is where there is the highest concentration of pesticide.
  • Stone Fruits: Peaches, plums, apricots and cherries are sweet, delicate and bugs love them. This means they are sprayed regularly with pesticides. Stone fruits have very absorbent skins and cannot be washed to remove contaminations because the pesticides are also found on the inside.
  • Pineapple and Mango: A trend in cake design is using unusual or exotic flavor profiles which include pineapple and mango. These lovely products are often grown in countries that are not regulated as strictly as North American which means pesticides are used more frequently. These fruits also have pesticides inside the skins because they are very absorbent. Try to find organic counterparts when using these flavors for your cakes.
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