Red velvet cake

Red velvet cake

A Red velvet cake is a type of rich and sweet cake, with a distinctive dark red to bright red or red-brown color. Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa powder, and often either beets, or red food coloring. It is most popular in the Southern United States, though known in other regions. The most typical frosting for a red velvet cake is a butter roux icing also known as a cooked flour frosting. Cream cheese buttercream frostings are also popular.

Traditionalists believe that red velvet cakes must contain cocoa, [cite web | url= | title=So Naughty, So Nice, New York Times, February 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-25] although recipes are available that do not contain any chocolate flavoring. [cite web | url= | title=Rachel's Red Velvet Cake (Martha Stewart Online)] [cite web | url= | title=Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake (Martha Stewart Online)]


James Beard's 1972 reference "American Cookery" [cite book | last = Beard | first = James | authorlink = James Beard | title = James Beard's American Cookery | publisher = Little, Brown | date = 1972 | location = Boston ] describes three kinds of red velvet cake varying in the amounts of shortening and butter used. All of them use red food coloring for the color, but it is mentioned that the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to turn the cocoa a reddish brown color. Furthermore, before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes. [cite web | url = | title = It's All Mixed Up! The History and True Facts About Baking Devil's Food Cake | accessdate = 2004-10-10 | last = Scott | first = Suzanne | date = June 7, 2003 | year = 2003 | publisher = New Jersey Baker's Board of Trade | archiveurl = | archivedate = 2004-08-05 ]

A resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias" in which the groom's cake (another southern tradition) is a red velvet cake made in the shape of an armadillo.

Dye And Other Color Sources

The use of red dye to make "Red Velvet" cake was probably started after the introduction of the darker cocoa in order to reproduce the earlier color. It is also notable that while foods were rationed during World War II, some bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are still found in some red velvet cake recipes. Red velvet cakes seemed to find a home in the U.S. South and reached peak popularity in the 1950s – just before a controversy arose about health effects of common food colorings.

Secret Recipes

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York

There is a story attached to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It is a story which has been created into an urban myth about the Neiman-Marcus cookie legend [cite web | url = | title = (Costs a) Fortune Cookie | accessdate = 2004-10-10 | last = Mikkelson | first = Barbara | authorlink = Barbara Mikkelson | year = 1999 | publisher = ] has it that a woman asked for the recipe for the delicious red velvet cake she was served at the hotel restaurant, only to find that she had been billed $100 (or $250) for the recipe. Indignant, she spread it to all her friends as a chain letter. This genre of legend dates to at least the 1940s as a $25 fudge cake recipe given to a railroad passenger during the days of elegant rail travel.

Eaton's of Canada

In Canada, red velvet cake was a well-known signature dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. [cite book | last = Anderson | first = Carol | coauthors = Katharine Mallinson | title = Lunch with Lady Eaton: Inside the Dining Rooms of a Nation | year = 2004 | publisher = ECW Press | location = Toronto | isbn = 1-55022-650-9 ] Promoted as an "exclusive" Eaton's recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many Eaton's patrons mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Flora McCrea Eaton. Unbeknownst to Canadian shoppers, most of whom would have been unfamiliar with the cuisine of the American south, the recipe likely originated in the United States rather than in the Eaton's kitchens.


External links

* [ Allrecipes Red Velvet Cake Recipe with Butter Roux Frosting]
* [ Red Velvet Cake Recipes from]
* [ So Naughty, So Nice -- Popularity, legends, and history of Red Velvet Cake, New York Times, 14 Feb 2007]

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