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 Red velvet cake is a rich, moist, sweet cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is usually prepared as a layer cake somewhere between chocolate and vanilla in flavor, topped with a creamy white icing. Common ingredients are buttermilk, butter, flour, cocoa, and either beets or red food coloring. The amount of cocoa used varies in different recipes. A typical frosting is a butter roux (also known as a cooked flour frosting). Cream cheese or buttercream frostings are also used.

James Beard's 1972 reference American Cookery describes three red velvet cakes varying in the amounts of shortening and butter. All use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. Before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and similar names for chocolate cakes.

While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Boiled grated beets or beet baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture.

A red velvet cake was a signature dessert at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City during the 1920s. According to a common urban legend a woman once asked for the recipe for the cake, and was billed a large amount. Indignant, she spread the recipe in a chain letter.

In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an "exclusive" Eaton's recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton.

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.

Traditionalists believe that red velvet cakes must contain cocoa, although recipes are available that do not contain any chocolate flavoring.
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review by . December 15, 2008
Red Velvet Cupcake
Yes, as my headline states, red velvet cakes are indeed, LOVE.  Whenever I happen to be passing by a bakery, I never pass up the opportunity to get a cupcake one.  I've also been known to drive miles out of the way to pick up one of these babies; they're just that good!      The red velvet not only has a gorgeous name, but if made right, has a gorgeous color and texture, not to mention amazing taste and richness.  My favorite frosting to go with it is definitely …
review by . March 16, 2010
In the last week I have made no less than three four red velvet cake recipes with three different frostings and two moms (one biological, one in-law).        The main thought that I leave you with after my experiements is that red food coloring is weird and should be eaten in moderation whenever possible...       That said, Red Velvet Cake is a delicious flavor and a wonderment of science.  Technically, it is a sort of very light tangy chocolate.  …
Quick Tip by . May 29, 2010
Don't bother snagging one of those normal frosting varieties; cream cheese frosting or BUST! It really does make or break the experience...
Quick Tip by . September 02, 2009
Red velvets are my favorite cupcakes of all. Will definitely be my wedding cake. The frosting must be SUPER cream cheesy!
review by . December 16, 2008
The best thing about red velvet cupcakes is undoubtably the cream cheese frosting.  I first had red velvet cupcakes at a friend's wedding this summer...I just found out they're now filing for divorce, which is awful....but I don't blame the cupcakes.  
Red Velvet Cake
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