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Marbled Rainbow Bread


  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • a big pinch of sugar 1/8 teaspoon or so
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 + colors of food dye, liquid or gel


  1. First stir the sugar in with the water. Then sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let that sit and activate for a few minutes. The yeast should start to foam a little bit, like in the photo above. That’s how you know it’s working. The sugar in the water just gives the yeast a little something to get it going. Think of it like a cup of coffee in the morning—not necessary, but it certainly helps to get things started.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour and salt. Pour the yeast water in with the flour mixture and stir until just combined, so the mixture is like a loose dough. We’re going to knead the color into the dough, so you only need to stir it enough here so that it’s combined.
  3. Divide the dough into three or more equal parts, depending on how many colors you want to use. I would recommend at least three, but you could use more if you like. Place the dough section on a cutting board or covered surface dusted with flour. I also recommend wearing gloves during this part. Add the food coloring to the dough and knead it in so the color gets well dispersed throughout. If you’ve ever colored fondant before, this will be a very similar process.
  4. I tried both gel and liquid food colors because I was curious if one would be easier to work with. I actually had assumed the gel would work better, as that’s usually what works best in fondant or frostings. But I actually liked working with the liquid food dye a little better. It’s easier to spill, so do take care to cover your surfaces and wear gloves (an apron doesn’t hurt either), but I thought it blended into the dough a little better. For the teal and blue doughs (above), I used gel coloring, but the yellow was a liquid coloring.
  5. Both work well though, so if you already have one or the other at your house, don’t be afraid to use it. Oh, and if you want to mix two colors together, I would recommend mixing them in a small bowl or something first and then kneading that into your dough as it will more evenly create the color you are going for.
  6. Once you have colored all of the dough, roll each section into a small log or thick snake (think elementary school pottery class). Then twist them all together and roll into a ball. Again, this is pretty similar to the marbled clay ring dishes I linked above, but you just don’t flatten it like you do for the bowls. Just leave it in a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for an hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Gently deflate the dough (it will have risen by this point) and shape into a loaf. If you can shape in a way so the darker colors are on the outside, I would recommend it because the crust will brown as the bread bakes, so it will be more noticeable on lighter colors. But this is just something to try if you can, no big deal if not.
  8. Place in a lightly buttered loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise for another hour.
  9. Then bake at 400°F for 25-28 minutes until the top has lightly browned. Allow to cool before slicing.