m. c. de marco: The New Kitchen Cookbook

Caramel Coloring for Pumpernickel Bread

I understand that you can get caramel color from the King Arthur store in Vermont, but I haven’t yet. Instead, I resorted to the dangerous procedure explained below by the 5-minute bread folks, which I got from their blog. The conflicting messages about whether to decrease the liquid or increase the flour were in the original.


  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T water
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • ¼ c. boiling water


Yes, caramel color can be made at home, but not as a powder—what you make will be a liquid that is added to recipes; you should decrease the liquid a bit to account for the extra. Here’s what I’ve done at home (it won’t be quite as dark a result as powdered caramel color):

Put 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon water into a saucepan. Melt the sugar over a low flame, then increase heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and continue to boil uncovered until the mixture becomes very dark. Remove from heat and allow to cool partially.

Very carefully, add a quarter cup of boiling water to the pan (it may sputter and water may jump out of the pan so wear gloves and keep your face away from it). Dissolve the caramelized sugar and cool to room temp. Use about a quarter-cup of this mixture in place of commercial caramel color powder in our Pumpernickel recipe on page 67.

If you use liquid caramel coloring like this, you need to add extra flour to make up for it––about twice the volume of flour as liquid. Otherwise the dough will be too loose.