Product Review: Nifty Shades of Gray

If you've seen Americolor's Nifty Shades of Gray in your local cake store, you're probably thinking "dude I have black food colour, what do I need a bunch of grey shades for??" I will admit, I thought that too, but here's where I was wrong.

Nifty Shades of Gray (10/10 for the name by the way), is not a bunch of grey colours, its greyscale shades OF colours. There's a bluey grey, and greeny grey, you get the idea. They are surprisingly difficult shades to mix and get 'just right'.

When I first tested the shades, I liked them, but I couldn't really 'see' them on cake, stuck as I was on the idea that grey is grey. I set myself a challenge, to use EVERY one of the Nifty Shades on a cake, and to MAKE it work.

I did this, partly because I'm stubborn, but also because I like to show people what can be done, and I think these Nifty little colours have flown under people's radar. 

So, the Gray's will see you now... (I couldn't resist)

Mixed using 1 Metric Tablespoon of Basic Buttercream, and 1 and 2 drops of colour per shade.
Mixed using 1 Metric Tablespoon of Basic Buttercream, and 1 and 2 drops of colour per shade.
The Lady Gray - 100% Buttercream - by Kerrie Wyer
The Lady Gray - 100% Buttercream - by Kerrie Wyer

Looks can be deceiving

As you can see, I mixed some colour into Basic Buttercream, both in mild and full strength, to get an idea of what the colours could do. With the exception of 'Fog", which is pretty much baby grey, even if you add a whole bunch of it, the shades give nice soft greyscale shades, and dark bold greyscale shades. At this point, you could be forgiven for thinking they look alike (I had to refer to this photo a couple of times to remember which shade I wanted), especially when they are all lined up, it just kinds looks like your printer is out of ink!

Where these colours really come to life, is in the subtlety of the shades. How just a pinch of Gun Metal's blue tone cools your cake, and the earthier tone of Taupe, warms it. I'll be honest, I started to get worried how I was going to pull these colours together, but also excited, BECAUSE they are so subtly different, I would have to really think about my use of colour.

The Lady Gray

100% Buttercream, and using ALL the Nifty Shades of Gray (and of course my signature Red Roses, because of course!)

Am I pleased with myself? Yes, yes I am. Not only do I love this cake (its a design that I have had in my head for a while, AND its ALL Buttercream!), but I tried something really different, and it worked.

Let me tell you though, there were some tense moments at the beginning when I had only the background colours on the tiers! It looked... meh. Bland, boring, and GREY. And this is kinda my whole point. Look past the obvious, or you could miss something incredible. Had I given up at that point, I wouldn't have this cake, and honestly, this is one of my favourite cakes that I have made.

Close-up-of-The-Lady-Gray-Columns.jpg

So which Gray is which?

For this cake, I used 'Gun Metal' for the top tier (which I textured with a foam roller to give the impression of stone), 'Ash' for the middle tier (textured with Kitchen paper), and 'Stone' for the bottom tier (which was textured with an impression mat, and hand painted for depth)

The 'columns' on the centre tier were made with 'Slate', and moulded using my cornstarch technique, using a mold from Caker's Warehouse. I dry dusted around the columns with edible dust, to give the impression of depth.

The clock was molded using a mold from Caker's Warehouse, and painted with Edible Art Paint Burnt Bronze*.

The flowers were hand piped, with the 104w tip from Loyal Bakeware for the Roses and blossoms (in Maroon/Super Red, and 'Fog' respectively), a 103 tip for the Ranunculus (in 'Taupe'), and 352 tips for the Hydrangeas (in 'Gun Metal'), and the foliage (in Cypress).

My two cents

These colours come as a set called 'Nifty Shades of Gray', but if you were to by them separately, I would highly recommend every shade, with the exception of 'Fog', which was so subtle, I think you could get by with another colour in very small concentration if need be.

I have to admit, I was surprised by this set of colours. I thought it was a killer name, but I wasn't expecting much. I'm thrilled to have been wrong. The set has really interesting shades, that as I said, are difficult to mix accurately yourself, especially consistently, and they are surprisingly versatile colours, for both background colour, and florals.

They get the offical Viva La Buttercream thumbs up.

Have you used these colours? I would to see what you have made with them! Share your Nifty Cakes to my Facebook page!

Laters Baby x (Viva La Buttercream)