Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!
OK, here comes the FOURTH cake post this month! My goodness.
I’ve been mildly obsessed with red velvet cakes for the past little while – you know, the American Southern classic bright red cake spiked with cocoa powder and frosted with cream cheese frosting – only upon looking through several recipes, there was one ingredient that put me right off: red food colouring. We’re not just talking a few drops here – we’re talking a few tablespoons or ounces! I figured there had to be a way to make this cake without all the food colouring, so I started searching. I found a post with a recipe for a red wine velvet cake (yes I’ll be trying that soon!) and a really interesting history of the red velvet cake as we know it (ie, chock full of food colouring). Apparently, way back when, “velvet cakes” were called that because of their velvety texture, and red velvet cake would have been appreciated for that rather than for its colour. In this particular cake, the acidic buttermilk caused a chemical reaction with the small amount of cocoa powder in the batter, making the resulting cake a slightly reddish brown. As well, the cake was usually made with brown sugar, which at the time was known as “red” sugar. The bright red velvet cake we know today didn’t come about until the enterprising owner of a food colour-producing company decided to boost Depression-era sales by creating a recipe for red velvet cake that included two whole bottles of red food colouring.