Red Velvet Cake

레터링케이크 A few ingredients give this cake its vibrant color. White vinegar, which helps baking soda leaven the batter, pairs with non-Dutch processed cocoa powder to create a reddish hue.


The cake’s name ties into its history: Back-of-the-house cooks at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Joy of Cooking cookbook author Irma S Rombauer all included recipes for red velvet cakes in their early editions. Today, this cake is paired with cream cheese frosting.


The story behind the cake’s distinctive red color has roots that go back hundreds of years. At the time, cakes were a type of bread, and often had a rough, abrasive texture. Around the 1800s, recipes surfaced for velvet cakes that used cocoa to soften flour and create a finer texture. These cakes were sometimes called mahogany or coffee cakes.

By the 1940s, some bakers started to add boiled beet juice or red food coloring to their existing velvet cake recipes to achieve a deeper color. This trend was likely a result of WWII rationing, when less alkaline “Dutch processed” cocoa became scarce. Beets provide a natural reddish tint and also help to retain moisture.

While the Waldorf-Astoria hotel claims to be the originator of red velvet cake, this is highly debated. It seems more likely that a black pastry cook brought the recipe to the hotel from home, and white chefs claimed it for their own.

Regardless of where the recipe originated, there is no dispute over its 레터링케이크 popularity, particularly with African American communities. It’s common for families to serve the dessert at Juneteenth celebrations, a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The red hue also has symbolic meaning, a tribute to the blood of those who lost their freedom. It’s also worth noting that while the cake has become a luxury for many, it originally served as a way for struggling Americans to make a fun and extravagant looking dessert within their budget.


Few desserts have such a storied (and contested) history as red velvet cake. While it is often mistaken for a chocolate cake, red velvet actually contains very little cocoa. Its color, instead, comes from a chemical reaction between natural cocoa powder and acidic ingredients like vinegar. The result is a rich and beautiful scarlet hue.

Traditionally, most recipes call for buttermilk as one of the liquids. This not only helps with the leavening, but also adds a subtle tang that gives the cake its signature texture. Other recipes may call for sour cream or even coffee to give the cake its depth of flavor.

In addition to the acidic ingredients, most traditional red velvet cakes call for a significant amount of food coloring. This is used to achieve the bright scarlet color that the cake has become known for. Some people choose to use natural red dyes such as beet juice, cranberry powder or pomegranate powder. These tend to be more muted in color, but still work well.

Liquid food coloring works well for this recipe, but you can also try using gel colors. Just be sure to use a very small amount, as the paste and gel versions are much more concentrated and intense than liquid. Lastly, a softened block of full-fat cream cheese is preferred for the frosting. Low-fat cream cheese has a higher moisture content, which can make the frosting runny.


When it comes to red velvet cake, few desserts have a more storied—and contested—history. While it might be easy to assume that this crowd-pleaser is simply a chocolate cake with red food coloring added, the truth is far more interesting.

Originally, this show-stopping confection was a little more brick-colored than the more familiar variety—and that color came from the particular cocoa powder used and the acidic buttermilk or vinegar in the recipe. These ingredients helped to bring out the natural anthocyanins in the non-Dutch processed cocoa, which created a reddish hue. However, as time went on, the cocoa powder was more often alkalized (meaning that it no longer turned red when combined with acids), and recipes began to call for red dye to create a vibrant cake.

Today, red velvet cakes are often made with all the standard cake ingredients but also include buttermilk and red food coloring. Buttermilk helps tenderize the batter and add moisture, while the vinegar provides another acid to activate baking soda and bring out the color of the anthocyanins in the cocoa powder.

The addition of red food coloring also ensures that the finished product is a vibrant, rich shade. Many bakers today also prefer to use all-natural dyes, such as beet juice or powder (ground dehydrated beets), cranberry juice or powder, or even pomegranate juice or powder. Choosing these natural colors will help to maintain the integrity of the cake and can help create a more authentic, homemade-looking cake.


The best red velvet cake is a moist, light, tender confection that’s a little tangier than chocolate and traditionally topped with white cream cheese frosting (affiliate link). It also has subtle hints of cocoa from the natural (non-Dutched) cocoa powder used, and can be made in a variety of shapes including rounds and squares.

A good recipe for this dessert is a must-have for any baker. It uses all the standard ingredients found in a regular cake (flour, sugar, butter), plus cocoa, vinegar, and red food coloring. Many recipes use the classic creaming method where the butter and sugar are mixed together first, then the wet and dry ingredients are added alternately. Some recipes call for vegetable oil instead of the butter, which can yield a lighter, fluffier cake.

The acid in the vinegar helps the baking soda leaven the batter. It’s usually white vinegar, but other kinds of vinegar or acid will work too. Red food coloring gives the cake its stunning color, although it’s not essential. You can also achieve the same effect with natural dyes like beet juice. The cake has a long and storied history, with its roots in African culture as a symbol of freedom and power for enslaved peoples. Red velvet cake has become a staple of Juneteenth, an annual celebration for American black families that commemorates the emancipation of their ancestors.