Titanium Dioxide: The Secret Ingredient.

Everything a Cake Baker Needs to Know About It
  1. Titanium Dioxide: What Is It?
Titanium Dioxide E171 is a chemical substance functioning as a white pigment and whitener. It's a white, odorless, and tasteless powder. In terms of mouthfeel, pure titanium dioxide is quite similar to chalk.

In nature, anything not naturally white but appearing white has been tinted with titanium dioxide. It's a part of our daily lives, commonly encountered but often not explicitly disclosed by many manufacturers.

Where Do We Encounter It?
  • Cosmetics: Soap, creams, toothpaste.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Tablets and gelatin capsules.
  • Paper manufacturing, paints, and plastics.
  • Food industry: It's used to color cheeses, ice cream, powdered milk, chewing gum, and various other products, giving them an appealing snowy white color.
  • Cake bakers also use titanium dioxide to color frostings, especially in decorating wedding cakes, as many brides desire a pristine white cake.
Photo on the left: the matte opaque yellow part of the capsule contains titanium dioxide. We can explore this effect in more detail below in the article, using isomalt as an example.
Photo on the right: natural capsules and tablets without any coloring.
2. Harm or benefit?

Not long ago, the European Union banned the use of titanium dioxide. The reason was a long-term study conducted by French scientists on rats. However, as of now, there isn't a single reliable study confirming its danger to humans.

3. Why do cake bakers use titanium dioxide?

Cake bakers use titanium dioxide to lighten or whiten the color of frosting, and also in coloring white chocolate, as its natural state tends to have a slightly yellowish hue due to cocoa butter. By combining titanium dioxide with cornstarch and vodka, it's possible to create a trendy dessert coating called "craquelure." This mixture is applied to ganache or fondant. Titanium dioxide helps create a beautiful "wave" and "leopard" effect on mirror glaze.

On the left photo: "leopard" effect on the mirror glaze of a mousse cake. On the right photo: "craquelure" effect on the bottom tier of the cake.
4. Dry or Gel-based?

What are the available forms of titanium dioxide?
Powdered/Dry titanium dioxide: Most commonly used among cake bakers due to its cost-effectiveness and concentration. However, the downside of this form is the need for skillful dilution to ensure no particles of the powder are felt in the frosting or chocolate.

Gel-based titanium dioxide: Essentially, this is a diluted powdered form available in a gel-based coloring. These colorants vary in concentration based on the manufacturer. They contain additional moisture, which might significantly impact the consistency of the frosting.

5. How to properly whiten frostings with titanium dioxide.

Firstly, among cake bakers, there are three primary types of frostings.

  • Chocolate ganache: As we've previously mentioned, white chocolate contains yellowish cocoa butter, so the natural color of ganache on white chocolate is more yellow than white. To achieve a snowy white color, a higher amount of titanium dioxide is added to the ganache.
  • Cream cheese frosting: Its natural color is not as yellow as ganache, but it still has a noticeable yellow tint. If a customer desires an impeccably white cake, using titanium dioxide here becomes essential.
  • Meringue-based buttercream: This type of frosting, which had somewhat waned in popularity, is regaining attention. One of its major advantages is its naturally whiter appearance compared to the previously mentioned frostings. It's made from Italian or Swiss naturally white meringue. When paired with the least yellowish butter, this frosting becomes naturally white even without using colorants. Employing such a frosting for cake coating can become a marketing advantage, especially since it's the most cost-effective.
Lessons on basic cake coating creams can be found on our website.

The standard average coloring proportion for frosting or chocolate: 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of titanium dioxide per 200 grams (7.05 ounces) of the frosting. The colorant can be added to food products in either dry form or diluted in a small amount of liquid (water, cream, milk) to prevent lumps in the frosting.

The natural color of uncolored ganache
6. Why does titanium dioxide crunch in frosting and chocolate, and how to avoid it:

  • Use titanium dioxide according to recommended proportions.
  • When adding titanium dioxide, sift it carefully to remove clumps or coarse particles. This will help achieve a more even distribution of titanium dioxide in the frosting or chocolate.
  • Mix well or use a blender on the frosting or chocolate coating after adding titanium dioxide. Ensure that it completely dissolves and is uniformly distributed throughout the mass. You can re-whip the frosting to better incorporate the titanium dioxide.
  • If all other steps are correctly executed and there are still issues with granularity, consider trying a different brand or type of titanium dioxide. Certain brands or particle forms might be better suited for achieving a smooth and homogeneous frosting or chocolate coating.
  • By following these recommendations, you can avoid the crunchiness of titanium dioxide on your teeth and achieve the desired uniform texture and visual effect.
To prevent titanium dioxide from crunching in your frosting, we recommend checking out our instructional video on achieving the perfect white frosting on our YouTube channel.
7. How to dye chocolate with titanium dioxide.

As we know, chocolate is colored only with fat-soluble dyes. It's important to remember that titanium dioxide can be purchased in two forms: dry and gel.
The dry form is versatile. If you see 'Dry fat-soluble white dye' on the package, know that it's simply titanium dioxide powder. It is both fat and water-soluble. Therefore, this label is simply marketing.
Gel titanium dioxide can be both water and fat-soluble. These are two separate containers of dye.
Each dye may have its own peculiarities in usage, so we recommend testing it on a small portion of chocolate before using it on the entire batch.

Natural and titanium dioxide-dyed white chocolate
8. How and Why to Add Titanium Dioxide to Isomalt.

A very common question on our YouTube channel: How to make matte lollipops? With titanium dioxide! This is the only way.
To achieve this, add titanium dioxide to melted isomalt. As a result, you get an opaque matte color. If you don't add any additional coloring, the lollipops will simply be white.
On our website, you can find a Mini-Course on working with isomalt, where we explain how to properly color isomalt and work with it skillfully.

In this photo, you can see transparent lollipops without titanium dioxide and matte white lollipops colored with titanium dioxide.
In this photo, the white matte isomalt is colored with titanium dioxide, and the pink matte isomalt is colored with both titanium dioxide and a pink dye.
9. How can titanium dioxide be replaced?
There is currently no complete alternative to titanium dioxide for whitening frosting or chocolate. While there are other white colorants that can be used for this purpose, they won't have the same effectiveness in covering other shades. As a result, the outcome may be less effective compared to using titanium dioxide.

10. Conclusion.
Summing up, in small amounts, the use of titanium dioxide is entirely safe. We encounter it more frequently while brushing our teeth or when taking supplements, most of which contain titanium dioxide in their white capsules.
As for custom-made cakes, we consume them far less frequently, so a thin layer of frosting is unlikely to cause harm. Moreover, there's always the option to leave it on the plate.
We've been delighted to share all the information we know about titanium dioxide with you. Your knowledge base has expanded, and you're ready to step into a new level of professional growth!

We'd be thrilled to meet you at our Basic Course!