(Nancy Kaufman) #1

Red Velvet Cake

Once upon a time, red velvet cake was a reddish-brown delicacy favored by the Victorians. Natural cocoa
powder and tangy buttermilk gave red velvet its signature fl avor as well as its russet hue, with the acidic
cocoa and buttermilk reacting with basic baking soda to create a touch of red. So how did the barely red
velvet cake transform into the gruesome red velvet armadillo groom’s cake featured in Steel Magnolias? Cocoa,
like everything else, has changed over the years. Natural cocoa powder has been superseded by Dutch cocoa
powder, which makes a run-of-the-mill brown-hued cake. By the 1960s, the mild red produced by cocoa
powder was traded in for the brilliant results of red food coloring. Today, anything from beets to wine can be
used to color a velvet cake—just as long as it's red.

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