Sunday, November 25, 2007

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hello blog world!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday. I'm recovering from the long weekend by doing absolutely nothing, it's splendid.

Yesterday at the market, although cold, went really well, we totally sold out once again. The Red Velvet winning the disappearing act.
I was asked multiple times about what makes red velvet cake so special, or different from other cakes, and so I've decided to post a blog on the matter. But since today is Sunday, and I am quite lazy, i've decided to simply copy and paste from the great world of Wikipedia.......

image taken from New York Times

A Red velvet cake is a type of rich and sweet Chocolate Cake which has a distinctive dark red or red-brown color. Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, shortening, flour, soda 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, and buttercream frostings are also popular.


James Beard's 1972 reference, American Cookery 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, baking soda 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.

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 babies 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 1950- just before a controversy arose about health effects of common food colorings.

There is also a pretty fun story in the NY times about the resurgence in popularity of Red Velvet Cake today:

Happy Resting!