Who doesn’t love a good slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? The name even sounds so luxurious: velvety smooth, rich red cake that sounds so much better than regular old cake.
Even though this cake is so incredibly popular, most people don’t really know much about it. So is it just chocolate cake with red food coloring? Let’s find out.
Red velvet cake was more of a rust color before the 1920’s as opposed to the bright red color we are used to now. Several key ingredients caused a chemical reaction that would create the reddish tone naturally. In the 1920’s, Adams Extract food coloring company introduced food dye and they released the new version of the recipe with the red food coloring, creating the cake hue we know today.
So what is red velvet cake after all? It includes the classic cake ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, but it also includes cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vinegar. When these ingredients are mixed together, the cocoa powder and acids react, creating a reddish hue.
However, if you try this method today, you likely won’t end up with the reddish hue because a lot of cocoa powders that are sold today and alkalized, which means that there is not the same chemical reaction happening that in the early 20th century.
However, the buttermilk and vinegar should still not be excluded from the recipe. They give the cake a light, fluffy, and tender texture. Of course, what is red velvet cake without cream cheese frosting?
The white frosting gives a brilliant contrast to the bright red color of the cake, and the tang rom the cream cheese complements the buttermilk in the cake batter beautifully.
For all these reasons and more, it’s no wonder that red velvet cake is truly the ultimate dessert option.