I have a very vivid memory from fourth grade of sitting by a boy, Marvin, during lunch at the school cafeteria, and many times he would have a sandwich made from this rainbow marbled bread. It certainly got my, and everyone at the lunch tables, attention. I don’t know if his mom made the bread; I know you could buy it at the grocery store sometimes. But I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever while I ate my not-colorful-at-all school lunch. And I kept thinking about that while I was working on this post. I wanted to find the easiest and best method for making rainbow marble bread, and I’m happy to share my findings with you.
We partnered with Nutella® for this post. If you’ve been reading this blog long, you probably already know that I am a long-time fan of Nutella. But, who isn’t? And I think spreading a little over some rainbow marble toast and topping with fresh fruit sounds like the most fun breakfast ever. Right?! It might be so fun that you need to make a loaf for your next brunch get-together with friends and make a colorful toast bar complete with all the good stuff: Nutella hazelnut spread, cut fresh fruit, and maybe sliced avocado for those who want to go the avocado toast route. There’s always one in the group, right? You could use this bread in all sorts of ways really… this is just my #1 suggestion.
And here’s one of my favorite things about Nutella, other than the taste (obviously). I LOVE the gold foil top when you open a new jar. It’s just fun!
OK, back to the bread. I’m going to share a basic bread recipe and my full technique. But if you wanna do a little homework ahead, check out this tutorial for making a marbled clay ring dish. The process for making this marbled bread is actually pretty similar in a lot of ways. So, check that out if you want another visual.
Random side note: this was unintentional, but I sort of think this loaf turned out to look kind of like Van Gogh’s Starry Night in a way. So… #art
Marbled Rainbow Bread (a.k.a. a classic white bread loaf that’s gotten a great paint job:)
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, but I’ll tell you which I prefer below)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Place in a lightly buttered loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise for another hour.
Then bake at 400°F for 25-28 minutes until the top has lightly browned. Allow to cool before slicing.
Here you can see one of the heels of my loaf. I didn’t roll my yellow section as long as the other two and so that one color didn’t make it all the way to the end of the loaf. Not really a big deal, but just showing you how that can affect some pieces.
Once the bread has cooled some, you can slice, use for toast, use in sandwiches, or frame as artwork. OK, just kidding about that last one. Enjoy! xo. Emma
P.S. You know Marvin, the little boy I mentioned in the opening story? Well, later that year (again, fourth grade), he became my first ever boyfriend. Was it the bread? I don’t know. Maybe?