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Is Red Velvet Cake Really Made From Beets?

Jun 23, 2008
The answer is that it all depends upon who is making it.Where did this cake come from? There is one story, which I leave you to decide whether authentic or not, that it was made at the request of a guest at the Waldorf Astoria for a guest. They made the cake and charged her $100 for the privilege of receiving the recipe. In revenge she passed it out to anyone who would take it.

The Waldorf version is said to use beets for color. Nowadays it is made all over the place, but especially in the South Some of the attraction is at least the slightly unusual ingredients. One theory is that the red food coloring was added when Dutch cocoa began to be used as this has an alkali added so is less likely to produce the traditional mahogany red.

A quick search reveals there are a number of variations on the theme Usually these include a cream cheese or cooked frosted icing, but for a less rich version a simple drizzle of glace icing works as does just a sprinkle of icing sugar. Try doing this through a doily which, if you remove it extremely carefully, will leave a beautiful pattern.

Ingredients for Red Velvet Cake

cup of low fat spread

1 cups of granulated or castor sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder ( drinking chocolate is a little too sweet).

2 teaspoons of red food coloring

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of cake flour or self raising flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of buttermilk or plain yoghurt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of vinegar

Method.

Cream the sugar and low fat spread. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks. Incorporate them into the creamed mixture. Sieve the cocoa and mix with the food coloring before adding to this mixture together with the vanilla. Add the salt to the flour and mix this in alternately with the buttermilk or yoghurt. Beat the egg whites to a fluff and fold this in to make a light mixture. Mix baking soda with vinegar and mix this in stirring well. Bake in 2 9 inch pans for 30 minutes at 350F, 190C, Gas 5. If you use smaller pans you will need 3 and a slightly shorter cooking time. Allow to cool and then fill and glaze as you like. Strawberry or apricot preserves are good.

A fluffy topping can be made by combining ingredients in a double boiler and beating as it cooks. You will need :-

The whites of 2 eggs,1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup water, 2 teaspoons light corn syrup. Cook this mixture for about 7 minutes, stirring all the time and then mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Let it cool before using. The result has been described by one writer as 'the Dolly Parton' of cakes. Well it is certainly a star - it even featured in the film 'Steel Magnolias' although there it was armadillo shape and had
grey icing. It probably tasted just as indulgent nevertheless.

Variations

Other recipes use the eggs whole rather than separated. Almost all versions include cocoa which contains anthocyanin, a natural coloring which appears redder in the presence of acid, hence the vinegar. One recipe unbelievably uses half a bottle of coloring - which I think is a bit over the top - but then it is that sort of cake.
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