Red velvet cake

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Red velvet cake
Red velvet cake.jpg
Three-layer slice of red velvet cake
Origin
Place of originUnited States
Details
TypeLayer cake
Main ingredient(s)Flour, butter, sugar, buttermilk, cocoa powder, vanilla or cream cheese icing, beetroot or red food coloring
 
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Red velvet cake
Red velvet cake.jpg
Three-layer slice of red velvet cake
Origin
Place of originUnited States
Details
TypeLayer cake
Main ingredient(s)Flour, butter, sugar, buttermilk, cocoa powder, vanilla or cream cheese icing, beetroot or red food coloring

A red velvet cake is a popular cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese icing. The reddish color is achieved by adding red food coloring.

Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa, and beetroot or red food coloring. The amount of cocoa used varies in different recipes. Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are commonly used.

History

James Beard's 1972 reference American Cookery[1] describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter. All use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. 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 similar names for chocolate cakes.[2][3]

While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture. Adams Extract, a Texas-based company, is credited for bringing the red velvet cake to kitchens across America during the time of the Great Depression by being one of the first to sell red food color and other flavor extracts with the use of point-of-sale posters and tear-off recipe cards.[4][5] The cake and its original recipe, however, are well-known in the United States from New York City's famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. However, it is widely considered a Southern recipe.[3] Traditionally, the cake is iced with a french-style butter roux icing (also called ermine icing) which is very light and fluffy but time-consuming to prepare. Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are variations which have increased in popularity. Beetroot or beets are not used in the Southern version of the red velvet recipe.

In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an exclusive Eaton's recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton.[6]

A resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film Steel Magnolias in which the groom's cake (a southern tradition) is a red velvet cake made in the shape of an armadillo.[3] In recent years, red velvet cake has become increasingly popular and can usually be found in most cupcake bakeries.

References

  1. ^ Beard, James (1972). James Beard's American Cookery. Boston: Little, Brown. 
  2. ^ Scott, Suzanne (June 7, 2003). "It's All Mixed Up! The History and True Facts About Baking Devil's Food Cake". New Jersey Baker's Board of Trade. Archived from the original on 2004-08-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20040805042002/http://www.njbbt.org/ripoff1161.htm. Retrieved 2004-10-10. 
  3. ^ a b c Fabricant, Florence (14 February 2007). "So Naughty, So Nice". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/14/dining/14velv.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  4. ^ The Unknown History of the Red Velvet Cake
  5. ^ Red Velvet, the 'Lady Gaga' of cakes, wears well during the holidays
  6. ^ Anderson, Carol; Katharine Mallinson (2004). Lunch with Lady Eaton: Inside the Dining Rooms of a Nation. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 1-55022-650-9. 

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