Red Velvet Cake

레터링케이크 Red velvet cake is a classic in the Southern kitchen. It is a moist cake that has hints of chocolate and a creamy frosting.


During WWII, ingredients like sugar and butter were rationed. Recipes started to incorporate vegetables like beet juice, which added color and made cakes more moist.

Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria credits itself with inventing the modern red velvet cake. But the hotel may not be completely honest about it.


The garish modern red velvet cake may look like it jumped from the pages of a chick flick, but its roots are surprisingly Southern. The first red cakes (of any type) probably surfaced in the late 1800s with recipes for “cocoa velvet cake” and others that use cocoa as the main ingredient. But it wasn’t until 1943 that a recipe for a red velvet cake appeared in the classic cookbook Joy of Cooking. Its name wasn’t a reference to a velvet dress, but rather the red hue of the cake that comes from the natural reaction of acidic buttermilk or vinegar with non-Dutch processed cocoa.

The recipe was a hit, and by the 1950s, it was well established in the South. At the time, sugar was in short supply due to World War II rationing, so bakers searched for filler ingredients that could give cakes their characteristic soft texture and red color. One of the more popular finds was beet juice.

The food product company Adams Extract used the popularity of the cake to promote their line of red food colorings. 레터링케이크 They printed simple in-store recipe cards and displayed them with their food dyes to entice customers. In this way, the red velvet cake became an advertising tool that helped companies weather the Depression and thrive in post-war prosperity.


A moist cake with a soft crumb is one of the hallmarks of a good dessert. Red velvet is no exception. Its richness comes from a combination of ingredients, including buttermilk and white vinegar, that aren’t typically used in chocolate cakes. This gives the cake a distinct tanginess.

The use of vinegar helps the batter leaven. It also pairs with baking soda to create a chemical reaction that tenderizes the flour and makes the cake extra soft and silky. The acidity of the vinegar is key to keeping the cake moist. It also binds the ingredients together and helps the cake keep its shape once baked.

In addition to the sugar, buttermilk and vinegar, red velvet cake is often made with vegetable oil (like canola) to add moisture. This keeps the cake from becoming dense when paired with a heavier frosting like cream cheese.

While modern recipes rely on food coloring to give the cake its signature scarlet hue, the original cakes didn’t. Historians believe that the natural red color was due to a chemical reaction between non-dutched cocoa powder and an acidic ingredient like vinegar or buttermilk. When the anthocyanins in un-Dutched cocoa powder combine with acid, they turn a deep reddy color. This is thought to be the origin of the term “red velvet.” During the 1920s, Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria and Toronto department store Eaton’s started serving their version of the cake, using natural tinting instead of food dye.


Red velvet cake is a variation on chocolate layer cakes that has an added bit of acidity from the buttermilk and vinegar. It has a tang that makes it not quite as rich or heavy as a traditional chocolate cake and it is a bit lighter than vanilla. It also has a touch of cocoa flavor, which adds to the richness of the cake.

The acidic ingredients in the cake help give it a more subtle chocolate flavor than a typical cake with the addition of vinegar, which isn’t typically used in devil’s food or classic chocolate cakes. This is what gives the cake its signature tang that some people find so unique and is also one of the reasons why it isn’t as heavy or dense as those cakes.

In the past, bakers tried to use natural colors such as beet juice for their red velvet cakes to avoid using the harsh chemicals that are now banned from most food dyes. However, beet juice isn’t very effective at giving the cake its signature color, and it does alter the taste of the cakes a little as well.

Unlike most cakes, red velvet has a very distinct buttery and oily texture due to the large amounts of oil and butter in the recipe. If you prefer your cakes less oily, try using a different icing or adding more milk to the batter. If your cakes tend to dome, try using cake strips to keep them flat as they bake.


Red velvet cake is one of the most beloved—and contested—desserts in America. It has a rich and storied history that is constantly being debated, with many theories on how it came to be.

The cake began to gain popularity around the 1900’s, when recipes with cocoa as the main ingredient started to surface. It gained even more attention during World War II, when it was suggested that the cake’s deep scarlet color could be achieved using rationed food such as beet juice.

In the 1920’s, a recipe for red velvet cake was published in the James Beard cookbook. This recipe called for vinegar in the batter, which caused a chemical reaction with non-Dutched (unprocessed) cocoa powder to give the cake its color. This was the first time a red velvet cake was documented, although other cakes with a similar color (like Devil’s Food) had been in existence for much longer.

During the 1940’s, a red velvet cake made its way into the popular Joy of Cooking cookbook. The recipe was written by the famous Irma S Rombauer, and it is believed that this was the first national mention of the red velvet cake. The cake gained even more attention when it made a cameo appearance as the armadillo groom’s cake in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias. It was at this point that cream cheese frosting became the preferred icing for the dessert, as it has the perfect balance of tangy and sweet to compliment the cake’s bright red color.