Red Velvet Cake

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Red velvet cake is a staple dessert that can be the centerpiece of a birthday party or serve as a romantic finale to a date night. This cake gets its color from a hefty amount of red food coloring that is dumped in the mix, staining it a vivid red.

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History

A classic red velvet cake, with its tangy cream cheese frosting, is a staple of Southern home cooking. The first recipes for dyed cakes appeared in American cookbooks as early as the 1870s. One called for cocoa powder and a few drops of liquid commercial food coloring. By the 1920s, such cakes were popular across the country.

When the United States entered World War II, government food rationing became an important part of American life. This limited the availability of some common ingredients, including sugar and cooking fat. During this time, cooks grew more creative in their efforts to make recipes stretch. Some cooks used ketchup, molasses or pureed beets to add color and moisture to baked goods.

By the 1940s, a crimson cake was appearing in restaurant dining rooms and in ritzy department stores. Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria, for example, claims to have served the first modern version of a red velvet cake. A recipe for the dessert also made its way into popular cookbooks such as Irma S. Rombauer’s “The Joy of Cooking” and Manhattan chef Fred Adler’s “Cake Book.”

The scarlet hue of this new cake is attributed to a Texas food-dye salesman named John A. Adams. He marketed the cake to generate more interest in his company’s red food dyes, which had recently been introduced for home use thanks to the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Ingredients

Red velvet cake is a light, fluffy, and moist cake with a subtle tang from the buttermilk. It is traditionally frosted with cream cheese frosting (affiliate link) or an ermine frosting, but many people are also fond of this cake with vanilla icing. Some recipes call for the use of cocoa powder but it is not necessary. The color of the cake comes from a combination of food coloring and acid reacting with the baking soda leavening agents in the batter. Originally, this cake had more of a dusty maroon hue that changed to the bright scarlet we see today. The cake’s roots stem from Victorian times when cake flour wasn’t available. In the United States, the first cakes used non-Dutch processed cocoa and a vinegar to tenderize it. A combination of these ingredients and a bit of red dye created the classic crimson color of this cake.

White vinegar sounds like an odd ingredient to include in a cake, but it helps the leavening agent activate. The acidity in the buttermilk and vinegar interacts with the baking soda to create a leavened 주문제작케이크 cake.

The amount of acidity needed differs between recipes, but it usually is just enough to cause a chemical reaction with the baking soda. The vinegar helps to make the cake lighter and more fluffy paired with the buttermilk.

Variations

Many bakers agree that red velvet cake originated in the South, though claims differ as to when and where. The storied kitchens of Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria—which also invented the namesake eggs Benedict and a famous salad, among other classic dishes—claim to have served one of the first modern red velvet cakes. At the same time, ritzy Toronto department store Eaton’s began serving a version of this cake in the 1930s.

These early versions of this recipe typically featured a dusty maroon hue that came from natural cocoa powder that reacts with acidic vinegar and buttermilk in the batter to reveal the color anthocyanins in the cocoa (similar reactions to those of devil’s food cake give that latter its intensely chocolaty flavor). As recipes evolved, bakers added more and more vinegar and, eventually, red dye to intensify the crimson color, which is what distinguishes red velvet cake from standard chocolate cake today.

The addition of beet juice, a longtime baking staple, has also been used to add a deeper, darker crimson hue to this type of cake. During World War II, when Dutch-processed cocoa (a less bitter and more refined version of natural cocoa that doesn’t change its natural color) became scarce due to government rationing, cooks substituted beet juice for the coloring in their favorite velvet cakes.

These days, you can find variations on this cake all over the Internet. Some use cake mix to cut down on prep, while others riff on the original with ingredients like coconut oil and whole wheat flour for healthier versions. These recipes, including a vegan version that uses Vegenaise instead of buttermilk and beet juice for the coloring, offer new takes on an old classic.

Recipes

While there are some who insist that red velvet cake is simply devil’s food with red dye, there are many differences between the two. Devil’s food cake is richer, more dense and usually made with a sour cream or coffee base in addition to the buttermilk and cocoa that are found in most red velvet recipes. Red velvet cakes use a combination of both buttermilk and natural (unalkalized) cocoa powder to create their signature soft texture and their deep, chocolatey flavor. They also contain a bit of acid to help the baking soda leaven the cake. The tang in the recipe is often provided by white vinegar, an ingredient not typically found in devil’s food or classic chocolate cake recipes.

It’s unclear exactly where red velvet cake originated (some claim it came from the South, others from New York) but by the early 1920s it had become a popular Depression-era dessert. At this point, bakers began experimenting with food coloring to enhance the color and produce the bright scarlet shade that we know today.

While many recipes today call for red food coloring, it’s easy to make the cake without it. Simply omit the red dye and use a dark brown sugar or molasses in place of the white, and you’ll end up with a cake that is closer to a traditional chocolate layer cake.