The history of cake dates back to the 13th century.

Hundreds of years ago, cakes were a sweet type of bread. Many times, people would put dried fruits and nuts in their cake recipes. As a result, the desserts were rough and had an abrasive texture.

It wasn't until 500 years later when bakers began to make dessert more appealing. They were able to find ways to break down the flour in the recipes so cakes could be softer and tastier.

Do you want to know where the traditional red velvet cake originates from? There's a lot of controversy behind who should receive credit for the recipe.

Read on to find out the fascinating history behind red velvet cake – one of the world's favorite desserts.

Traditional Red Velvet Cake

To understand the traditional red velvet cake, you must go back in time. Velvet cakes first came into existence during the Victorian Era. It was during the 1800's that recipes would frequently call for the use of cocoa for luxury cakes.

They would call the cakes "velvet" cakes and serve them at fancy dessert parties. The word velvet lets guests know the cake will have a smooth and soft texture. describe the soft, smooth texture of the cake.

Devil's food cake was also wildly popular during the Victorian Era. Devil's food cake was another recipe that requires cocoa as an ingredient. The cooks in the 1800's were hard at work, trying to get the perfect cake recipe.

The ingredient of cocoa would help break down the coarse flour. As a result, the flour was softer and the cake was velvety. Some people argue that the red color comes from a chemical reaction.

A chemical reaction between the cocoa and acid give the cake it's red color. Natural cocoa has a lot of acidities and works well with the baking soda and buttermilk.

Along with a delicious chocolate flavor, the cocoa makes the cake nice and soft.
Around the 1900's cake recipes with cocoa as the main ingredient began to surface. People were finding recipes for cocoa velvet cakes, red cocoa cakes and other "cocoa" types of cakes.

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Finally, around 1943, a popular cookbook, "The Joy of cooking" debuted a red velvet cake. The maker of the cookbook, Irma S Rombauer, comically states she doesn't care for the cake.

However, Irma felt she had a duty to her customers to include the red velvet cake recipe. The Joy of Cooking, 1943 recipe was the cake's first national mention.

World War II

During WWII soldiers and civilians had to ration off food and supplies. Baking products like sugar and butter were a part of the rations. As a result, some bakers chose to use beet juice in their cakes.

You can still find red velvet cake recipes today that call for beet juice. The red color of the beets makes the cake have a more delicious appeal. However, not only do the beets make the cake pretty, but they also make the cake soft.

Beets work as a filler that keeps the cake from being dry. People were happy to buy a red cake because it felt more special. The red color of the dessert isn't very important to the flavor of the cake.

Instead, the dramatic red color is more of an eye-catching statement piece to impress guests. Today, people go crazy over being able to add red velvet to their menu items. You can find red velvet cake, pie, cookies, cupcakes and in some places even red velvet chicken!

Who Deserves Credit?

There's a lot of different theories as to who can take credit for the original red velvet cake. The Adams Extract company claims they are the ones responsible for the cake ever existing. The Adams company was able to make a lot of money selling red food coloring to make red velvet cake.

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel also says they are the ones who should get the credit. According to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, they are the birthplace of the Red Velvet cake.

While there's a lot of theories, there's no solid proof as to who deserves credit for bringing the red velvet cake to the United States.

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Original Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Cocoa powders have become better over the years. Now, most of the cocoa powder you buy has to undergo special processing. During the production phases, the cocoa interacts with an alkalizing agent.

The base (alkalizing agent) causes the cocoa's acidity to neutralize. As a result, the other cake ingredients no longer have a chemical reaction with the cocoa.

Every original red velvet cake recipe should always include:

  • Real butter
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil
  • White vinegar
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Cocoa

Many people enjoy adding cream cheese frosting to their recipes. The smooth cream cheese texture pairs well with a silky red velvet cake. People are also finding ways to use red velvet flavors for unique gift ideas.

Fun Facts About the Waldorf Astoria Cake

Did you know that red velvet cake has hundreds of different names? Other names for the cake include:

  • Red carpet cake
  • Red mystery cake
  • Flame cake
  • Authentic red velvet cake
  • Waldorf Astoria cake

When the Adams Extract company was selling the cake they came up with their own name. They had fun using the tagline "The cake of a wife time".

Life's Better with Treats

It's fun to learn all about the history of the traditional red velvet cake. 

Sunflower Baking Company is happy to help you with all of your bakery needs. Our menu has a variety of tasty treats and meals for you to choose from.

Enjoy taking your time as you choose between breakfast sandwiches, exquisite desserts, coffees, teas and more! We also provide catering for parties and weddings.

Take a moment to explore our site and see everything we have to offer. You are also more than welcome to visit us locally or place your order online.

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