- A red velvet cake is a type of rich and sweet cake, with a distinctive dark red to bright red or red-brown color. Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa powder, and often either beets, or red food coloring.
- 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 and buttermilk tends to turn the cocoa a reddish brown color
- 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.
- Red velvet cakes seemed to find a home in the U.S. South and reached peak popularity in the 1950s
- A resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film Steel Magnolias in which the groom's cake (another southern tradition) is a red velvet cake made in the shape of an armadillo.
I think I'm going to try this recipe from Paul Dean this weekend, it's got to be wonderful!
*all images from flickr