ed velvet cake is traditionally a red, red-brown, crimson or scarlet-colored chocolate layer cake. Originally, at least that is what I’ve learned on the internet, traditional recipes did not use food coloring, and the reddish color came from non-Dutched, anthocyanin-rich cocoa. Dutch what and antho-what a what, you say??
Well, let me explain. You see, the cocoa bean processing comes in two varieties – so-called “Broma process” and “Dutch process”. Broma process is a method of extracting cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans that consists of hanging bags of roasted cocoa beans in a very warm room, above the melting point of cocoa butter (slightly above room temperature), and allowing the cocoa butter to drip off the beans, where it is collected. After the Broma process is completed, the remaining dry cocoa beans are usually ground into cocoa powder.
The Dutch process adds an additional processing step to the Broma process whereby, after the cocoa butter has been drained off the beans, the beans are soaked in an alkaline solution to make them chemically neutral. And – there is the catch! You see, natural cocoa is fairly acidic, and it is the acid that reacts to the buttermilk and vinegar, which are main ingredients of the red velvet cake, creating a reddish hue. Now we come to anthocyanins! These are water-soluble pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple, blue or black. Food plants rich in anthocyanins are – for example, blueberry, raspberry, black rice, and – you guessed it – cocoa beans! So, as you can see, in order to get a reddish cake, you need a non-Dutched, anthocyanin-rich cocoa! Simple, right? Hahaha, yes, I know – this is anything but simple, since today all around the world, cocoa is processed the Dutch way, meaning – it is chemically neutral, and buttermilk and vinegar do not react with it. So – we use food colors to make our velvety red beauties!
Now,a few words about history. It seems that velvet cake is thought to have originated in Maryland early in the 20th century. Beginning in the 19th century, “velvet” cake, a soft and velvety crumb cake, came to be served as a fancy dessert, in contrast to what had been the more common, coarser-crumbed cake. Recipes called for the use of cocoa to soften flour and make finer texture cakes. This smoother texture gave these cakes the name “velvet” cakes. When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers in United States used boiled beetroot juices to enhance the color of their cakes. Nowadays – we use food colors simply because it is easy! Sure, you can cook beatroots and make your own color, but I will not do that today! Also, thanks to the food colors, our red velvet cakes can be really red – like – fire engine red, and we like that, don’t we? I sure do, so let me show you how to make some cute, heart-shaped (of course), red velvet Valentine’s Day cakes!
Well, what do you think about this post?
I read and really appreciate all the comments, even though I do not always have the time to respond to each one. So – keep me in the loop and try to create some sweetness every day because – Sweetness is happiness!!