Red velvet cake is probably familiar to anyone who has ever eaten dessert. It’s lustrous and exquisite, giving you the feeling that you are eating a delicious dessert. Have you ever wondered why red velvet cake is red or what causes it to be red?
If you continue reading, I will give you the answer to a question that many people don’t even know or don’t care to ask. Let’s start, shall we?
You may think that this dessert is a vanilla or chocolate cake because you are thinking about the frosting. But it is not.
WHAT MAKES RED VELVET CAKE RED
You must first understand what red velvet cake is to understand the concept.
THE ORIGINS OF RED VELVET CAKE
It would help if you looked back in history to appreciate red velvet cake fully.
Cakes have existed for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the Victorian Era (the 1800’s) that they began to get fancy.
During this period, people began to use cocoa in desserts.
During this time, chefs and bakers began adding cocoa powder to cakes for a sweeter taste. Cocoa was expensive, and only the rich could afford it.
The cocoa powder breaks down the coarse texture in the flour, resulting in the final product having a smoother texture.
The “velvet” recipe would use cocoa powder, a luxurious ingredient. This would make the cake stand out from other types and give it a smooth texture.
The name “velvet cake” is used because of the soft and smooth texture that feels like velvet on your tongue.
The name “velvet” might sound strange, but it is a good way to describe the soft, smooth texture of these cakes.
You now know that the red velvet cake is made with cocoa powder. The word “velvet,” as used literally, was chosen to let guests know that this dessert will be soft and smooth (because it is made with cocoa).
TRADITIONAL RED VELVET CAKE
Each original red velvet recipe shares a few common ingredients:
- Cocoa powder
- Baking Soda
It’s important to come up with a unique recipe using only these basic ingredients.
It is important to note that cocoa powder was not added in the same way as it is today, but rather very subtly and minimally.
Even though red velvet cake is a chocolate cake, it’s not your normal chocolate.
When these ingredients are combined into a cake batter, the reddish color of the cake is easily visible. This unusual color is believed to be the result of a chemical reaction, which we will explain today.
WHY IS RED VELVET CAKE RED?
The red color of the cake comes from a chemical reaction between cocoa powder and buttermilk or vinegar. This is the short answer.
The longer and more detailed explanation includes words like polymerization, pH reactions, etc. But don’t worry! Here’s a breakdown of what I said.
It all boils down to anthocyanin – a flavonoid found in cocoa powder.
Anthocyanin is the name of the red pigment that can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes.
Anthocyanin’s chemical structure is sensitive to acid and base compounds.
COCOA PUDDING HAS CHANGED
Over the years, cocoa powder has evolved a great deal!
Cocoa powder is treated and neutralized today.
The anthocyanins in cocoa powder will not turn red if there isn’t sufficient acidity.
Modern cocoa powder cannot turn red cake batter. The more cocoa powder you add, however, the less it will turn red.
Red food coloring became popular today because of the change in cocoa.
WHY DID MY RED VELVET CAKE NOT TURN RED?
Okay, let’s be honest. This is the last thing I want you to hear as you stare at a red velvet cake that should be red, but it’s not.
Or you added too much food coloring. You may not have used enough food coloring.
Okay, okay, okay. Breathe. I know that it’s a sad situation.
We were also all very excited about your cake. We’ve all experienced this: looking down at food that is supposed to be vibrant and colorful but instead appears dull or grey (or even black). It hurts, right?
It won’t be like this forever, I promise! I’ve got you covered.
See, I have some insider information that will make sure you never experience this type of situation again. Ready?
1) Do not overdo it with the cocoa. It has a rich flavor that makes the cake delicious. But if you use too much, you will create a basic atmosphere instead of the acidic one that turns the cake red.
In my recipe for red velvet cupcakes, I have pointed this out to you. You must use at least two teaspoons of red gel food coloring.
Liquid Food coloring gives a more diluted result and is not as vibrant as gel food coloring. You end up adding way too much food coloring, which can also cause a bitter taste. !
Red velvet cake turns red when anthocyanin, a pigment in cocoa powder, is exposed to acidic conditions. The color of this cake is mainly due to the addition of buttermilk, cocoa powder, and vinegar to the cake batter.
The cake’s characteristic color and flavor come from the combination of ingredients.