Red velvet cake is actually quite similar to chocolate cake, with the addition of red food coloring to give the cake its well-known appearance. Red velvet cake is commonly paired up with either cream cheese or buttercream frosting to accent light notes of vanilla present in the breading of the cake.
During early development of the cake, it was originally the reaction between vinegar and buttermilk that created the cake’s red appearance when this combination was added to cocoa powder. During World War II, many foods and products were rationed and beet juice was added to red velvet cakes to retain its classic color, instead of vinegar and buttermilk. Through accidental use, during World War II, bakers discovered that beet juice helped red velvet cakes to not only maintain their proper color, but moisture as well. However, in modern times, red velvet cakes no longer call for the use of vinegar, but for the use of alkaline Dutch processed cocoa and red food dye, instead.
Although some studies suggest that red food coloring (as well as blue and yellow dyes) may contain traces of aluminum, and high levels of aluminum in the body has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, this cakes rightful color can also be maintained by using beet juice, instead of harsh/unnatural food dyes.
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