What is up with Red Velvet Cake?
Undoubtedly, red velvet cake is STILL one of the favourite flavour. So really, what’s the deal? What is it about this cake that it has garnered so much attention, especially this past couple of years?
What I do know is that historically, red velvet cake derived from many different recipes, dated bake in the 19th centuries. It appeared in several recipe books, though it is not the actual red velvet cake that we eat now. The predecessors of the red velvet cake is essentially a simple butter-based cake, blended together with whipped egg whites and ground almonds for texture – far cry from the ruby red cake we are familiar with. Somewhere along then and now, the recipe has been tweaked, most significantly by the addition of dissolved boiling water and soda (now known as baking soda), before being added to a batter that contained sour milk (what I imagine is the buttermilk).
Renowned food writers has commented that from then on, cocoa was incorporated into the cake and with the combination of buttermilk, which leaves a reddish hue due to the reaction of the cocoa pigments with the acid present in the buttermilk. Theoretically, a combination of this apparently creates the reddish hue. In practice, far from the truth.
From what I’ve read, there are many rumours surrounding the origins of the red velvet cake. The most popular (but unsubstantiated) was that Waldorf Astoria sold the recipe to an unsuspecting customer for $100 (bear in mind in those days, that is a lot of money for a recipe), which the customer then distribute it freely in retaliation of having to pay for the recipe. That was how the red velvet became popular.
From then onwards, the recipes for red velvet cake appeared across United States in major newspapers, especially in the 60’s. Somehow red food colouring was introduced as part of the recipe, along with the existing buttermilk and cocoa powder. Though famous, red velvet cake seemed to be more more prominent in the southern of United States.
According to Wikipedia, a resurgence in the popularity of this cake is partly attributed to the 1989 film, Steel Magnolias, in which the groom’s cake (a southern tradition) is a red velvet cake made in the shape of an armadillo. More recently, it was selected by Jessica Simpson as her wedding cake when she weds Nick Lachey back in 2002 (now divorced). Since then it has been featured in… Well… Everywhere.
So having that said, I tweaked my version of the red velvet cake. Since I’m promoting a phenomenon, why not combine another phenomenon into this recipe while I’m at it - the cupcake. So here you go, the Red Velvet Cupcake.
If I may be so bold, please DO NOT add any sprinkles on the cupcake. It is tacky.