A Christmas Favorite – Red Velvet Cake

December 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM | Posted in dessert | Leave a comment
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I can’t ever remember a Christmas Dinner without a Red Velvet Cake for one of the desserts when my Grandmother was around! White Icing with Red and Green Sprinkles and so moist. It’s been many years since she passed away but every time I see or hear about Red Velvet Cake I always think of her.

 

Red Velvet Cake Waldorf Astoria

Red Velvet Cake Waldorf Astoria

 

 

Red velvet cake is a cake with either a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It’s traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese or cooked roux icing. The reddish color is achieved by adding beetroot or red food coloring. Before more alkaline “Dutch processed” cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced.
Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, cocoa, and flour for the cake, beetroot or red food coloring for the color.

 

 

 

James Beard’s 1972 reference, American Cookery, describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter, also vegetable oil. All used red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in cocoa and keeps the cake moist, light and fluffy. 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.
When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beet juices to enhance the color of their cakes. Beets are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture. Adams Extract, a Texas 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 coloring and other flavor extracts with the use of point-of-sale posters and tear-off recipe cards. 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. 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 butter cream frosting are variations which have increased in popularity.
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.
In recent years, red velvet cake and red velvet cupcakes have become increasingly popular in the United States and many European countries. A resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film Steel Magnolias which included a red velvet groom’s cake made in the shape of an armadillo.

 

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