Red Velvet Cake

Dessert, Recipes
on December 31, 2006
red velvet cake
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

If you have never made Red Velvet Cake, you are in for some surprises. To begin, you will use more red food coloring for a single recipe that most cooks use in a lifetime, and by the time the cake goes into the oven, your hands and every piece of equipment that touches the batter will temporarily be red. When the cake is baked, it will be slightly less red, and once it is frosted with creamy white frosting, it will be an absolute show stopper.

According to one story, Red Velvet Cake was originally on the dessert menu at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. In the 1920s, a California woman ordered the cake and was so taken with it that she wrote to the hotel asking for the recipe. The hotel chef sent it to her, along with a bill for more than $300. Because the woman did not ask if there would be a charge for the recipe or how much it would be, her lawyer advised her to pay the bill. In a case of sweet revenge, she began giving the recipe away.

Although many Red Velvet Cakes, sometimes called Waldorf-Astoria Cake or $300 Cake, are frosted with cream cheese frosting, our favorite version calls for an unusual buttercream frosting that starts with a milk and flour paste which is beaten into the butter. It spreads like a charm and is delicious with the soft, velvety cake. If you serve the cake to guests, someone is bound to ask for the recipe. In the spirit of sharing a good thing, we suggest you hand it over free.

By Jean Kressy.

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